noI am thinking of starting a new support group for folks addicted to ministry.  The introductions would go something like this: “Hello.  My name is Jane and I am a ministry whore.”  The name of the group would be Ministry Whore Anonymous.

Whoa.  Did I really just say that?

Yup.  And all 12 steps are applicable.

I give you that I am may be a bit over the top with my terminology, but it really hits home with me.  I am no longer a ministry whore, but I have been.  If you are even a little bit active in a local church you probably know at least one person who fits into this category.  These are the people who seem to be involved in everything.  The ones who are always frazzled because of the amount of time they spend in ministry because they are the ones who “get things done.”  So people often go to them to ask them to do other things because as the adage goes, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person.  But I am hoping the term “ministry whore” will hit home with some of you out there in the blogosphere just as it did with me.  Whether you are one of the ones putting out or one of the ones soliciting service, no means no.  After all, if someone can’t respect your no, your yes is really worthless. 

Many times this kind of behavior is justified as being “sold out for the kingdom” or a “Jesus freak.”  And sometimes this is true.  But it seems like many other times it is a twisted sort of “indulgence” that we use as penance to secure our place in the kingdom and earn God’s good will and approval.  We build a sense of pride in the ministries we participate in or lead.  Our identity becomes more dependent on what we are doing for the kingdom than on the one who established that kingdom.

It was helpful for me to realize that Jesus told people “No.”  He told his disciples no, he told his family no, and he told those who wanted to follow him no.  And there were no apologies.  The only person Jesus didn’t say no to was God the Father.  Profound.  Jesus often failed to meet expectations.  He walked away from expectant crowds without telling anyone where he was going, he failed to free Israel from the Romans, he failed to be the messiah the Jews wanted him to be, he failed to do as his parents expected him to.  But he never failed to do God’s bidding though he sweat blood under the pressure of that burden.

For those of you who have read Boundaries by Townsend some of this will be familiar.  For the rest of you, I highly recommend this book.  And remember, no means no.

Photo by: b.fhram


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10 Responses to “MHA”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    i wonder if it is common for women from a fundamentalist background who want to be ministers to work too much at church

    at the expense of the true Self who God has Called; at the expense of things they need to do to take care of themselves, or things they just want to do for themselves

    in order to help justify their role in teaching men.

    not to the church they’re working in, but to thos from their past lives who are not supportive of the women’s calling, for whatever reason.

    i can imagine the way voices might echo in the women’s heads “you are not to teach men you are not to teach men you are not to teach men.” (or whatever the lack of support is about)–

    but the voice of God tells you you are to serve Him by teaching for him, by ministering for him, by preaching for him.

    that must be a hard place to be. it must be hard to shut down one set of voices so you can hear the voices of those who are supportive of your calling, &

    it must be hard to hear the voice of God at all with all those other voices bouncing around in your skull.

    there is a poem i know that has something like the following lines:

    “i would not be martha
    in the kitchen. i would clutch
    the alabaster box to my own breast until i could
    pour it on his head and rub it through his long hair
    my self; or i would have the long hair
    and i would find a way to sneak
    into that room and i’d be so overwhelmed with joy
    and love i wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears;
    yet Somehow i’d know to wash
    his feet with my long tears; to dry them with my long hair;
    to warm them with my hands, my self. and

    if i could really serve him then, or now,
    i would look for a way to serve him
    my self,

    in person, of course. i would be selfish
    that way: i would be the one to touch
    his head, his face, his hair, his feet; to make his heart clench
    in his chest; i would be the one to ask him
    the questions that make him laugh; i would be the one to ask him
    the obvious ones no-one, not even he, could answer;

    i would be the one to feel free to say yes
    or no to almost any question
    he might ask us all; i would be the one to say
    what i thought of this

    or that. and in my heart, i would scream no no no no no
    to what was about to come, though i like
    to think i’d love him enough not to say it

    (what would he say, having read first my heart and then my mind?)

    i would be with him, right next to him, or at his feet;
    i’d find a way to hold his hand: i’d use what god gave me
    to become the disciple that Jesus
    loved: after all, God made me

    a woman who can’t cook;
    my name would be mary, one way, or one of the others.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    ” oops. punctualtion issues.

  3. Ruth Says:

    PH — did not have time to read thoroughly/digest — but just want to give a quick shout out and say that I like how you’re thinking. At the risk of sounding like a Buddhist, energy is everything. Boundaries are for the sake of preserving energy and being honest about energy. I think we like to lie to ourselves about our motives. (yes note applicability for dear “brother in Christ” and beware energy sucking) take care, friend!

  4. EJ Says:

    You know, I’m both laughing and saddened.

    I have known people who, at various times, have become MWs. For some, it is because they are brand new baby Christians, are on fire, and it is their way of exploring their new faith. And then, when the newness wore off, they disappeared, because they were burnt out, or they never understood what it was for.

    For some, it was because they had a WHOLE lot of inner personal stuff to sift through and so, they did that by being at church ALL of the time. (Mega church, they could do that, there.) The problem was, they all had teen aged children who needed them to be present, and, unfortunately, THEY felt they needed to be at church — it was their lives, their very meaning for living. Their children actually suffered because of the parents’ relationship with God.

    I would like to see entire congregations go through the Ministry PIMP anonymous. For, while I’ve met pastor’s who have certainly used excuses to become immersed in their ministry, more often than not, I have seen congregations who don’t realize that Jesus said, “no,” at times, that Jesus needed spiritually re-tool and re-fuel — these kinds of congregations generally believe that God is not present unless he is in the form of the pastor, and therefore, the pastor as to be present at EVERYTHING, and they are angry when the pastor cannot be.

    Or maybe the Church at large is the Pimp for encouraging such behavior, the minister the “whore” and the congregation, the Johns. I DON”T KNOW. Clearly, I never worked in Nevada —

    But you get the point. I love the 12 step idea.

  5. fishclamor Says:

    pink, i just cannot help but think of martha & mary. two kinds of service. and you have to choose sometimes. you know what i mean about that passage?


  6. Heather Zempel Says:

    Sometimes I think the most spiritual thing we can do is to stop creating “to do” lists and create a “stop doing” list instead.

  7. Sara Says:

    Amen, Heather! I think you are right on!

  8. Pickle Person, Yellow Says:

    yeah, heather, i think you’re right on, too.

    it makes me wonder how applicable good advice for mommies is for ministers? i mean, it’s a lot of caretaking, both jobs. a lot of love on the way out, both jobs, satisfaction, sure, but not that much love on the way back in…

    anonymous wrote a pretty cool poem. i’m going to plagiarize it and polish it up–clearly it’s a first draft…

    take it easy. really. bye, love pp,y

  9. My Favorite Blog Posts for 2008 | LifeVesting Says:

    […] Are You a Ministry Whore? Bet that got your attention!  It sure did mine.  The Pinkhammer has decided she needs to start a […]

  10. Energy: A Precious Resource « Says:

    […] I sat there in the pew amazed at the energy we waste on things that we can do nothing about when we could be putting that energy to use for the Kingdom.  And then I tangented to think about what my friend and mentor Ruth has said a few times about not letting people suck the energy out of us.  I think this usually happens because we worry about what others will think about us.  As in, “If I don’t participate in the Adult Ministries Pancake Breakfast, they will think I’m not committed.”  And then I starting thinking about my post on MHA. […]

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