It was during my sophomore year in college that I really began understanding what it meant to walk with Jesus in relationship. It was God’s grace through faithful men and women who pursued me with the love and truth of the Gospel. I couldn’t outrun it, and believe me, there were many times I tried.
God’s grace captivated my heart and I was ushered into a great Gospel-centered campus ministry that helped me crawl, and eventually take my first steps as a believer in Jesus.
My involvement with the ministry continued to grow and grow, until eventually I was asked to help play a role in our weekly meeting. That invitation led to another in a different area of the ministry, which led to another somewhere else, which led to another elsewhere.
Most of my life I’ve been called the class clown, and I can’t deny it. I love making people laugh and have always been telling corny jokes years before just recently becoming a dad. I think one of the words people would use to describe my life is fun.
Duty vs. Delight
So, years into having led within this campus ministry as a student, my mentor sat down with me one day at a restaurant near campus. We had a lengthy conversation, but one of the things that struck me, and that I still remember over 8 years later, is how we talked about my leadership and how that impacted my joy.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you had a conversation like that? Where somewhere in the process of leading (even leading in great areas for the Lord) it’s become a duty instead of a delight? Its sucked all the life out of you, instead of helped you be even more of a conduit of God’s blessing to others.
Now I think the reasons for this are manifold. If you’re like me, when I know that I’m starting to feel burnt out, I usually just push even harder. Which only goes on to set a poor example for my family, my team, and especially those I’m mentoring.
But I think the other extreme that we can fall into is clearing our calendars completely. We cut off, throw our smartphone in the river, and run into the forest. Maybe not, maybe you’re more normal than me. You set a vacation months in advance, and without knowing it, ask that vacation, leading up to it, and while you’re on it, to be the savior to restore your joy.
In Matthew 11, Jesus, surrounded by men and women in an agriculture that knew what it meant to work hard, says the following: “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (v.28). The immediate context speaks not just to the physical reality of labor, but the spiritual. They were surrounded in a culture of religious legalists trying to earn God’s approval through good works. That picture seems awfully close to how I would describe the culture I work in, and can add to, today.
What is the motive of your labor?
Each of us needs regular checkpoints in our life. Checkpoints that help us to finally be still and allow what’s been brewing inside to be heard. Checkpoints that allow us to press in with the Holy Spirit to reveal the motive of our labor.
These checkpoints for me look like asking and inviting my wife, and godly men, to ask me questions about my schedule and heart motivations. Even with these checkpoints, my life hasn’t been perfect, but I’ve seen God’s sweet grace give me opportunities to confess and repent, before I burn out and take the ship with me.
God’s approval of you, me, our family, team, and even those we’re ministering to, comes only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. If you’re reading this and feel the burden from not trusting in Jesus, but trusting in yourself or anything else, then hear those sweet and powerful words Jesus spoke in the passage above.
“Come to me…”
He won’t turn you away.
Vinnie Casanova helps lead the Lone Star Epic Team in Austin, TX. Vinnie is husband to Kimberly, the most beautiful, gifted woman he knows. He is also the proud, and often frantic, father of Clara, his second sweetheart. He has been on staff with Cru since 2007. He’s passionate about running, drinking good coffee, teaching God’s Word, and developing leaders who want to see The Great Commission fulfilled in their generation. For more information on Epic Movement visit: www.epicmovement.com. To contact Vinnie, email firstname.lastname@example.org