When Naivety in Ministry Wears Off

Naivety–characterized by a lack of critical judgement and understanding of the world

In college and afterwards, I had youthful, naive notions of what I would do for God in ministry. I had grand visions for my role in my home and church. I got caught up with anyone who had similarly grand visions for the new and different things we would be doing for God. Along with this attitude often came a disdain for those who had long been at work in the trenches. The old timers seemed bogged down in their old ways, and I was suspicious of their attempts to speak into my life. Like so many reacting to legitimately wrong practices, I managed to throw out the baby with the bath water in my reaction to traditions that strangled the church from effectively ministering to a new and quite different generation. Certainly there are unbiblical practices to correct. But there are several principles that must be kept in mind when self correcting.

1) There is something about age and experience that trumps youthful exuberance.

Proverbs 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

2) It is stupid and naive to think I am doing something new and different for the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

My naivety has now worn off. I realize that God has been doing His work for many, many years. There is nothing new and different going on now, and I am naive and foolish to assign too much importance to what I am doing compared to those who have gone before. God has been building His church, is building His church, and will continue to build His church until He presents it gloriously at the marriage supper of the lamb. Lord willing, I am just applying myself to the work God has been doing since long before I was ever born. God instructs me in Scripture to value the wisdom of those who have gone before. They have watched the cycles of churches and institutions grow and fail. They have endured the hardships of raising families. The ones who have spoken most profoundly into my life speak humbly from hard lessons learned through failure rather than success. And I am wise to listen to their words and ponder their experience, for there truly is nothing new under the sun.

4 Responses to When Naivety in Ministry Wears Off

  1. Sharon Hodde November 14, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi Wendy, I just discovered your blog and it is such an encouragement. I work in college and women’s ministry on the east coast, and women studying theology is kind of a soapbox of mine. πŸ™‚ I just plugged your book on my blog (sheworships.com) so I hope you get some traffic!Blessings on your ministry!

  2. Wendy November 14, 2008 at 4:11 pm #

    Thanks for the plug, Sharon. I willingly accept and appreciate all free advertising I can get. πŸ™‚

  3. Julie A. November 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    Your comment exactly echos a truth that has become very real and clear to me recently as well. Thank you for sharing it so eloquently.

  4. bekahmae November 17, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    Sharon plugged your book and I bought it! Thanks to both of you for writing and posting your thoughts and encouragement for those of us neck deep in theological study. You are much appreciated!