Written By Yunus Kurniawan, Indonesia
“I will dedicate my life to serve Jesus.”
I made this promise to God and myself after overcoming my addiction to pornography. I had been struggling with pornography addiction for some time. But by God’s grace, He opened my eyes and delivered me from it. So I decided to serve Him with my life.
I started with serving in a ministry in my church. Everything went well for me—I was serving joyfully and growing in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
One day, my leader approached me to ask if I would like to serve in more areas and even lead a ministry.
I had not seen it coming. What a huge privilege it would be to serve as a leader! But the excitement was short-lived. I was soon overwhelmed with self-doubt and fear, knowing that the responsibilities of a leader are not to be taken lightly. What crippled me the most was the thought that I would have to make major decisions for the ministry as a leader. What if I make the wrong decisions? What would the repercussions be?
Moreover, I’ve also been struggling with anxiety, and I worried that my struggle disqualified me to lead because I did not have the essential traits that a leader ought to have—stability and confidence.
Soon after the invitation was extended to me, I got into an argument with a friend in church. He had played a trick on me and mocked me for falling for it.
I knew that it was just harmless fun, but the humiliation was unbearable and my anger consumed me. I gave him the silent treatment and it strained our friendship.
While I was stewing in my anger, I thought about how a leader would have responded if he were in my shoes. Would he have responded with anger and hostility like I did, or would he have brushed the joke off lightly and responded with mercy? There was no doubt in my mind that the latter was the right way to respond, but why was it difficult for me to do so?
My self-esteem plummeted as I spiraled into more doubts about myself. I couldn’t forgive myself for ruining our friendship. This made me even more convinced that I was not worthy to take on the leadership role that was offered to me.
As I served in church over the next few weeks, I constantly felt jittery. It seemed to me that everyone in church was casting disapproving looks at me and judging me for how I had responded to my friend’s joke.
I felt so guilty and ashamed that I began to lose my fervor and joy in serving. In fact, I wanted to give up serving altogether because every moment spent in church was painful and lonely.
As my anxiety over this matter grew, I could only turn to God in prayer. As I did so, He taught me three things:
1. God can use my fears to grow my dependence on Him
As I reflected on all that has happened, I began to realize how much I yearned for validation and comfort from the people around me. When I fell out with my friend, I bashed myself up mercilessly over my response. When the people around me in church seemed to look at me disapprovingly, I felt out of place and miserable.
My loneliness and despair pushed me to cry out to God, knowing that He listens to my prayers (Psalm 120:1).
As I brought my fears to God, He helped me see that I should be relying on Him in my evaluation of myself, instead of the opinions of my friends. As Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” This shifted my perspective and focus.
2. God desires for me to grow in Christ-likeness
When my leader asked if I was keen to lead a ministry next year, I felt extremely anxious. I was worried about the heavy responsibilities it entailed. Furthermore, I became more anxious after the conflict with my friend as I realized that I didn’t have the character to “qualify” for the role.
However, God opened my eyes to see that I have been called to serve not because I am perfect. Rather, He desires to mold me through my service so that I may grow to become more and more like Him. Serving as a leader may be challenging but I believe that God is sovereign above my anxieties and challenges. He will be the One to sustain me as I serve Him.
3. God loves me and is always with me
As I was doing my devotion one day, I came across the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. Her story comforted me greatly as I could identify with her loneliness and distress in her predicament. Even though she was an Egyptian slave, God reached out to her and comforted her in her misery.
The same God who sees Hagar (Genesis 16:13) sees me too. In the midst of my anxiety attacks, He is with me. And because He cares for me, I know that I can always bring my anxieties and struggles to Him (1 Peter 5:7).
I felt strengthened after submitting my fears to God. Instead of running away from the issue at hand, I decided to reach out to my friend and honestly share with him about how his joke affected me. After hearing me out, we reconciled and are now friends again.
Through this episode, I realized that some of my fears are unfounded, and going to God with them instead of giving in to my emotions or fears helps me understand how He wants me to deal with every situation or decision I have to make. Even though I still struggle with anxiety, and have not decided if I will take up the leadership role, I’m encouraged to know that I can always run to God and look to Him for strength and help.