Finding The ‘I’ in I AM
- Dave Wike
- 2015 23 Sep
Several years ago I stepped into a leadership and sales position with Pastor Resources (part of JCA Company), feeling ill-prepared, to say the least. I was faced with a multitude of overwhelming expectations, deadlines and financial obligations. This was also the same year our economy tanked. Our fourth kid was on the way, and I was wondering how I was going to handle it all. I even threw in a two-week missions trip to China, just because there wasn’t enough going on.
My calendar was full of all the things I thought I should be doing, but I was neglecting the ones I thought I was doing all of this for. So, how did I get to this point?
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I simply forgot I served a God who called Himself I AM. So I decided to be i am. I worked harder and longer in order to grow my kingdom. After all, this is success, right? Don’t stop. Ever.
I had my phone in hand for every sales opportunity. Whether a call or an email, I was ready. This meant that even though I was at home and had one arm around my wife and the other one around the kids, I was checking my phone incessantly. I was totally connected, and yet completely disconnected. Don’t miss that sale! Don’t forget to make your staff feel appreciated. Don’t miss that meeting. Talk to your clients regularly. Keep trust with your big vendors. Check your cashflow. Oh yeah, is your line of credit in good standing?
As a leader in ministry, what is it for you? What constant stream of reminders float through your head? I can’t disappoint that member whose mother is in the hospital. Don’t miss the counseling session with the couple that really has no intentions of making things right. I’m supposed to have a mind-blowing sermon ready for Sunday. Don’t forget that wedding in two weeks...
This performance cycle had its season for me, but then I turned to escape. In my entitlement, I was convinced, “Hey, my wife’s got the kids. I’m ‘managing the world,’ so I’m justified with hanging out with my buddies all night, right?”
This mindset started to change during the holidays that winter. I was trying to get the majority of my ads sold before Thanksgiving and was planning on busting it into December. That means while my family was waiting for me to be excited about Christmas, I was still consumed with my own kingdom. I was busy wondering, What did I miss? Who’d I disappoint today? Why aren’t they responding?
Then God graciously stopped it. He started with my boy. “Don’t you see your son looking into your eyes with a precious question while you’re staring straight through him? And he’s the only boy you’ve got!”
So I spontaneously decided to pull my son out of school for a day during the busiest week of the holiday sales cycle. He also wasn’t doing well in school at the time, so logically speaking, this was a really bad idea on several fronts. But it was a blast. We spent the day doing some silly stuff. I took him bowling, and we visited a rock wall because he could climb like a monkey. Most importantly? My phone wasn’t with me.
You know what happened when I got home that evening?
Not i am.
While I was loving on my boy, apparently Papa was out taking care of business. I had a record day of sales all sitting in my inbox.
So what am I saying? Because I loved my family right for one afternoon God opened up the windows of Heaven? No. Not at all. What I am saying is when I quit believing I could control it all, Jesus lovingly showed up and said, “Watch this, bro, I’m going to blow your mind.”
And He keeps doing it, whether I get it right or not. And boy, do I keep screwing it up. I drop in and out of performance mode daily, but I’m working on trying not to beat myself up about it, because even my Creator compares us to stupid sheep––the same stupid sheep He loves so much He ignores all the others just to help the lost one.
It basically all comes down to one thing: who do you trust? If you’re in ministry, you presume it should be easy for you to trust God. But my guess is you’re still putting way too much trust in yourself and your own ability to fix everything. Stay on that path, and burnout is inevitable. But trust that Jesus cares for you and all the people you’re trying to help, and you’ll have the ride of your life.
Sometimes the first step is lowercasing the ‘i’ and submitting our anxieties, our dreams and our to-do list to I AM.
Dave Wike is the president of JCA Company, the parent company of Pastor Resources, which recently launched a brand-new website at PastorResources.com to provide encouragement, inspiration and emotional support to church leaders and their wives.