In May of 2016 I was completely and utterly exhausted but I didn’t know why. As I journeyed to discover the cause it led me to one of the most difficult decisions of my life – to step away from a job that I loved. Now, a little more than two years later, I have been granted this opportunity to share my heart.
To some degree I feel like I have always been a busy person. For as long as I can remember I have been driven and motivated to do well in school, music, sports and church. I have also always been a people pleaser. I always want everyone in my life circle to be happy with my work. Looking back I can see that being a driven person AND a people-pleasing person has created challenges for me. For whatever reason this personal discovery took me nearly 40 years to figure out.
It began in September 2012 when Pastor Brent Ingersoll called to offer me the role of Worship Pastor at Kings Church. I had been leading worship at Kings since 2001, but I’m educated as a Pharmacist, not a theologian, so part of me felt under qualified even though Brent reassured me that he did not share that sentiment. In light of that reassurance my heart began to fill up with excitement with this invitation because never in a million years did I ever imagine I would be given this incredible opportunity to be on staff at my church. After much discussion with God and my husband I decided to accept. The position started as part-time and eventually led to a full-time opportunity for which I was very thankful. It was a dream come true.
While the worship team seemed to be growing and thriving, I was reluctantly starting to see that my home life was suffering. Most days I felt like a terrible mother. I remember being so exhausted trying to help my kids with their homework or hoping desperately that they would want to watch TV so I could either fall asleep beside them or go back to work on my phone or laptop to tie up loose ends with the worship schedule for that week.
Andy and I also began to struggle in our marriage. That was definitely new to us as we had always enjoyed a healthy marriage, yet in that season our relationship was becoming very strained. Our church was growing rapidly over these few years which meant the addition of more worship events which demanded more of my time and the more I gave myself to the job the more it seemed our marriage was suffering.
The irony was the more people I tried to please – Andy, Lucas and Monica, my extended family, the worship team, Pastor Brent and the church staff – the more I felt like I was actually pleasing no one. Many days I felt like a street performer trying to keep 20 plates spinning at the same time all the while knowing deep down that the inevitable could happen. A plate could fall and shatter.
Finally in May 2016 I came to the realization that there were some important plates in my life that I could not let fall to pieces. One being my marriage and another being my role as a mom.
I began to sense God asking me to let go of my role as worship pastor. However it was a plate that I loved to spin, which left me confused. I could not understand why God would ask me to give something up that He called me to just four years before. So I pulled a Gideon (Judges 6) and told God that I needed confirmation – confirmation that it was His voice I was hearing on this. I needed to know without a shadow of a doubt that I was to leave this job I loved and the worship team members I enjoyed serving with every week.
God in His goodness and like He always does, came through for me. I would need to write a book to tell you ALL that He did but here is one powerful moment where He spoke so clearly.
At the beginning of June 2016, Andy and I were in Buffalo, NY at the General Conference of the Wesleyan Church where I was attending as a delegate. God had already been speaking to me in many ways that week about the job and on Sunday June 5th He put the words of Jesus from Matthew 10:37-39 on my heart. I could not shake these verses all day. Nor could I completely understand what they meant for me personally.
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” – Matthew 10:37-39 (NLT)
These verses had me perplexed because I felt like giving up this “ministry” job meant that I might love my family more than God. I was sharing my confusion with my mother over the phone and God spoke so clearly through her. She said she felt like God was saying the “mother” or “father” in this passage was the job and that it was possible to “cling to” even something like a ministry position. All of a sudden I was fully aware that for months I had been clinging to my worship pastor role not wanting to let it go even though it was beginning to cost me dearly at home.
Then, that very evening during the worship service at the conference, Hosanna Poetry delivered a message through spoken word (Video Here). It was all about Matthew 10:39! The same verse that had been on my heart all day. The worship night ended with the entire room singing “God Is So Good” and in that moment I felt like God was giving me a giant hug from heaven reassuring me that this decision was good even though it was hard. I knew what I needed to do. God gave me a supernatural peace and removed any fear I had of letting the position go.
Over the last two years God has shown me in more ways than I can describe that it was in fact the right decision. My marriage has been restored and the strength in my parenting resurrected. The biggest surprise of all was how He brought me into true rest.
He revealed to me that He loves me…just me…without the busyness. He loves my worship and that I want to serve Him but He loves ME more than the things that I do for Him. He loves to be with me. He loves when I relax and He loves when I have fun and laugh. This was a MASSIVE revelation. Could it be that at the end of the day this driven, people-pleasing wife and mother might stop spinning all the plates and God would still be pleased? Yes! In fact, I feel that I have become a better follower of Christ in whatever role I’m serving because I am finally applying this lesson to my life.
In my “busy” days as a worship pastor/pharmacist/wife/mom, people used to often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!”. If I’m being completely honest, that used to make me smile with pride just a little. But now I hope to never hear that again. I should not have felt proud in those moments. Hearing those words should have been a warning that I was doing too much. I was spread too thin. I was unwell.
But God offers true wellness to His children. He called me out of my busyness. He rescued me like only He could. He brought me into a rest and freedom like I have never known and I will be forever grateful.
Find more True Wellness stories HERE
Hi Kelly, I am also a pharmacist. And recently question my profession as whether or not it’s part of God’s will. Are you still a pharmacist through all you went through. As a mom too I want to make sure I am able to provide and be there for them too.
Kathy Hamilton says
Oh, Kelly, what a wonderful thing it is that you are willing to share this. I was always willing to dust the pedestal I put you on, as it just amazed me how many things you were doing well! Of course, I only know ‘the surface,’ not the struggles, so it’s enlightening for you to share about the struggles beneath the surface. So often we think we ‘know’ someone, but until we know their battles, we know them not. I, too, am a ‘burning bush’ kind of girl, as I explained to God: I don’t take hints well; I need SIGNS. In a time of strife, chaos, and stress, I literally cried out to God for a visible sign, and He sent it. God bless you as you continue to grow in your roles as wife, mama, and Christian!
Kelly Jay says
Thank you Kathy 💖God bless you too!!
Debbie McKinley says
I love how God works when you really want to know his heart. It seems it always leads to “wonderment” as you see how he’s woven so many things together so we can find the road he’s designed for us. Most often obedience comes first (after your understanding) and blessings follow; delights that would never have been known otherwise. As your Mom said, thank you for your transparency and vulnerability. I’m sure countless others will benefit.
Thank you Debbie! I feel like you have described the journey of obeying God’s voice so very well. God bless!
Donna Leonard says
This could not have been written at a better time for me. Thank you so much for sharing Kelly. I too am guilty of wearing too many hats and the pull to do what I always feel is the work the Lord is directing me to do is ever so attractive. I too need to reassess and listen more closely to what God is actually saying to me, not what I want him to be saying!
Hi Donna! Thanks for your note. A book that reaffirmed what God has been doing to bring me into His rest was Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist. I highly recommend it! A fast and amazing read!!
Michele Breen says
This mom will be forever grateful too that you not only heard His voice you did what He asked.
Thanks for your transparency Kelly ❌⭕️
Mama I love you more than words can say. You were the first one to teach me that the most important voice in my life is God’s and that He will always lead me into a place that is good. And He is still using you daily to help direct my path. I am so thankful for our friendship. 💖