January was a month of many significant spiritual milestones for me. This year marked the 8th anniversary of my coming out of denial and realizing that I couldn’t do life on my own terms. It was the anniversary of my demotion. It is funny how easy I can say that now. At the time, I was so humiliated. I was also incredibly relieved.
I knew something had to change in my life. I was working 6-7 days a week. At one point I worked 20 days in a row trying to fix the mounting system problems that were causing so much work and stress for me and my staff. I worked long hours at my office. I worked on the bus. I worked into the early morning hours from home. I was exhausted.
When I walked into my boss’s office on that Friday afternoon, January 30, I was thrilled to have met our deadlines. I was proud of myself and the people on my team that worked so hard to overcome huge obstacles—all for the sake of accurate and timely W-2s. (Let’s just say that my employer had a history.) I was greeted with the news of my demotion.
There is a huge story behind all of this, but the point is that God used this life-changing event to transform me. He used it to point me toward Him and He used it to help me take responsibility for my decisions and behaviors that had led me down this path of self-destruction. It has been a long process. During January, I don’t even give W-2s or working in that kind of environment a second thought. There was a time that I loved it and thought it was my mission in life—that I would be lost without it. It was my idol.
As I started to work through my work addiction that first year—while still being employed, I had to set boundaries on the number of hours I worked, I had to not try to do everything and be everything for everybody. I had to learn that it was just a ‘job’—that it was just a ‘paycheck’. I had to learn that my value was not dictated by what my boss, peers or staff thought of me. I had to learn that my value was dictated by God and His unconditional love for me. That took lots of time and lots of love being poured into me from the outside—by other followers of Christ who also struggled seeing themselves as God sees them.
What is so ironic—and humorous in hindsight—is that although my boss demoted me for my lack of people skills, God has ‘promoted’ me and abundantly used me in this area. He has taken me out of my analytical walk to one of faith and obedience from my heart. Sure I am very detail oriented. I am a good organizer and highly capable of managing projects. But the area that I get the most satisfaction with is in the trenches of working through the struggles of life—of connecting one on one or in small groups with others who are hungry for spiritual growth.
That is where I give back in ministry. I love to facilitate life change. I have served in various ministry roles since my demotion. Even now I am part of a team that is launching a ministry that has been near and dear to my heart since I was demoted. It is Celebrate Recovery.
Celebrate Recovery is a biblical 12-step program based on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10). At first I attended for my compulsive work habits, but I soon came to realize that these principles were needed in all areas of my life. It was about embracing a lifestyle change that put Jesus first in my heart, mind and soul. It was about the character building that I needed to become more like Christ. Lastly, it was allowing Him to turn my failure into victory.
Eight years later, I am grateful for that experience and still sold out for Jesus. My identity is no longer wrapped up in what I do, but is now based on who I am. My identity is in Christ.
Celebrate Recovery launches at Timberlake Church in Redmond, WA on Wednesday, February 29 at 7PM. Check out CelebrateRecovery.org for a meeting in your area. Or join us, if you live locally, to help us celebrate the launch of this new ministry of hope and healing.