This post was originally a note that I wrote on my Facebook page. We wanted to share it here on the site, in hopes to encourage others. – Branden
I never thought I would be here, but I am thankful that I am. I began to follow Jesus with all my heart in the spring of 2008, as a freshmen at Florida A&M University. I began to lead small groups, spearhead outreaches, lead prayer meetings and more. I knew this god was the god that I wanted to follow. This god was the god that would fulfill my life’s purpose. Why would I want to choose anything else?
I LOVED serving in the same campus ministry that played a major role in my life when it came to finally submitting my life to Jesus. I could not imagine doing anything but becoming an official minister in that same organization and changing lives on the college campus. I had friends go off to the school of ministry and begin serving on their campuses. I met my lovely wife in this ministry! This is all I wanted. This has been all I’ve known.
As I stated above, I wanted to be apart of this team so badly. When I was 12, I felt that God told me that I was going to be in ministry full-time. Six years later, I saw my opportunity to make that word a reality. I felt like if I was going to do ministry with this organization, the only way I can do it is by being a full time missionary. That’s all I knew. That’s what I wanted to be apart of.
During this journey, my wife and I got married and planned to go to the school of ministry (where they train the missionaries), then become full time campus missionaries. My wife knew this was all I talked about because this was all I knew, all I wanted. I had to pursue the call of ministry on my life.
After not going to the school of ministry due to having our first child (Elijah), we decided to go during our second year of marriage. We were in a bit of a financial bind, but this was what I wanted so we decided to use all of our savings to go and just push through.
The school was AMAZING. I learned SO MUCH! I was one step closer to being what I had always wanted to be, a minister on a college campus.
The Journey As A Missionary
Now that Elijah, Courtnee and I were on our way to be full time missionaries I sensed some caution from my wife. However, I did not take it serious because we had to do this. I had left my job. There was no turning back. This was all I knew. This was the way to get to where I dreamed to be.
The organization that I was apart of does a WONDERFUL job at training their missionaries and helping them see that it is not just about you. It is about inviting others into the great commission. That was such a comforting thing to know because it kept me from feeling like a beggar (something that I wrestled with internally).
However, building our team of partners seemed to be going slower than we expected. Throughout the journey my wife would express that she was not fully on board with this part of the process. Well, I felt as if she was not having enough faith, so we had to keep pushing. We had many moments of frustration due to this. BUT, this is what I wanted, this was how I was going to enter my calling.
I never thought I would be here, but here I am. I was forcing my family down a path that they did not want to go and ignoring all the signs along the way. Ministers hear and preach about family being first and here I was placing my pursuit of ministry over my family’s wants and needs. I wanted to get to that sweet spot, my “calling”, so bad that I would downplay my wife’s concerns as “She’s just not having enough faith.”
There was nothing right about that. Period.
Secondly, I was trying to be a missionary without a conviction that I was called to be amissionary. I truly felt (and still feel) called to ministry, but I was trying to be a missionary without a conviction from God to do so. This was apparent when times got tough. I could not muster motivation to just “get out there and go get it” because I had no real conviction that this was the way I was supposed to go. However, this was the ONLY way I knew to get to be a campus minister and join the elite class of good friends that were doing it. I felt that the only way I could make it into my calling was by doing it the only way that I saw possible. That led me to feeling I was dragging my feet along in a dutiful way and not inspired by a call from Jesus. That matters. A lot.
After taking some time to pray and fast and allow God to show me these things, my wife and I are no longer full-time missionaries.
This decision was not a decision that was made easily, but it was one that was needed. Courtnee and I needed to be on the same page and I could not place ministry above our family. For some, it may have seemed like my wife chose this out of the blue, but the reality is that I was ignoring the obvious signs and failed to lead our family properly.
Also, I am no longer following God. Let me rephrase that. I’m no longer following the god that I created in my life. My god, my idol was the path to being in ministry full time. I felt that I had to be a missionary because that was the only way I saw possible. I looked to the god I created in my heart (the specific path) as the source to get me to where God was calling me, instead of looking to God.
I am no longer following the god created in my life so that I can fully follow the God that gaveme life. Now that I have laid down the only path that I thought was possible to do ministry, I have to trust that the God that called me to full time ministry when I was 12, is the same God over my life at 24 years old.
God will never call us to pursue something in ministry in such a way that it ruins our first ministry, family.
I hate that I have let people down that have invested in Courtnee and I. I hate that I may have led people to believe that I was leading them on, but that is not the case. This was a matter of God re-priotizing my life so that when he opens the door for full time ministry in my life again, my family will be first and ministry will not challenge His spot in my heart.
I am (and have always been) a very passionate person. I can say that I am now more passionate than ever to impact students (and people in general) in the way God sees fit because I have so much trust in His plan for my life and the family that he’s entrusted me to lead.
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” (ESV)