It is not my work

by Michael Clancy

A long time ago, while I was still working as the aftercare supervisor for Jubilee Ministries, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my calling was not going to be easy. It took many years of trial and tribulation to accept that and settle into this calling. 

What does it take to walk side-by-side with so many people who seem to fade away back into addictions? How much can the human heart invest into another’s life before wanting to call it quits? 

In the past, I would wrestle with God. My desire is for people to confess Jesus as Lord and never fall away again. But that just isn’t the case for so many. It seemed like I would invest my time, talent, and resourcing over and over again only to watch someone make another bad decision.

After years of being confused, I became bitter, angry, and resentful toward addictions, God, and systems. I was oppressed on many levels. I remember my counselor at Jubilee Ministries would always find ways to get me to look at my own sinful heart, to see how I am only responsible for my response toward God and others. He reminded me that one of Jesus’s names is “Jehovah Tsidkenu,” which means The Lord, Our Righteousness.”

 It was His righteousness, never my own.

My counselor would ask me if my response demonstrated my trust toward God or myself. Ouch! It was often myself — I needed to repent and believe that God was the one on the Throne. This has become a building block for how I do ministry today, but it came only after years of God teaching me this lesson.

You see, freedom for me came through an ongoing relationship with Jesus through the Word of God. What God showed me was the good news of Jesus.

Jesus ultimately trusted His Father, which caused him to be willing to lay down His life for me, a worthless sinner. If Jesus, the name above all names, the one having all authority, is willing to submit to the Father, who am I not to do the same? Who am I not to trust God solely? Now, I can see opportunities to bless regardless of others, regardless of their responses. It is not about me — it’s about Jesus. That’s the gospel: what I could never do, Jesus did. “The Lord, Our Righteousness.”

As I reflect on the many discipleship relationships that I have had over my 18 years of ministry, I am reminded that it is not my work, but it belongs to God through the Holy Spirit because of His finished work of Christ. 

I am only called to spill water on people’s feet. In this call of walking alongside others, it appeared at times to be fruitless. But like Jesus, I can press onward. When so many fall back into addictions or a lifestyle far removed from God, I can press forward with hope knowing that Christ is at work. The freedom to continue walking  with others regardless of failure is believing that what God has done and is continually doing in my life, He can and will do in others. It’s His will, not mine. And because I believe this, I can move forward! 

So, when a man I have been discipling for some time relapses and calls me to curse me out for trying to help him, I don’t grow bitter, angry, or resentful. It is not my work but God’s work. I know that God has hope and a future for this man. But that hope is not mine to give — it’s God’s hope to give. And it’s His to give when He desires.