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18 - The Heart of Ministry

Michelle Doucoumes


Ministry and leadership forever changes the relationship that we have with God. Often, being involved in leadership creates challenges which force us to dig our roots deeper in the word. But what happens when people let you down or your ministry doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would?  In this episode of the GYC Beyond podcast, Michelle Doucoumes and Esther Louw have a heart-to-heart conversation about the ups and downs of ministry and how to keep Christ at the center.


Michelle Doucoumes

Assistant Professor of Business at Southern Adventist University


  • October 7, 2018
    11:00 AM


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Ministry and leadership forever changed the relationship that we have a God often being involved in leadership crazed challenges which force us to get roots deeper in the word but what happens when people let you down or your ministry doesn't turn out the way you thought it would high this is as low in this episode at the podcast Michelle do Komisar joins us to discuss the heart of ministry. Hi Michelle welcome to the podcast and thank you so much for coming here for Atlas's before we start and I find out a bit about you what are you currently doing. I teach a business at Southern Methodist University so I'm a professor there and what's your background how did you get there and I have you know it's a great question I studied at selling it as a student myself and I studied accounting and while I was at Southern though got started to work in my life when I got to that point I had always just kind of gotten jobs done what I try to get experience to get a good job and very different things being one of them got really started to lay on my burden hard to do more than just like make money and do business as usual and that was huge I became really convicted I do I see 2003 in the early time that like I needed to do something for God right so I had this calling and I didn't feel like I was the typical spiritual religious whatever person who is going to preach or do all this stuff I don't know what I was going to do but some of us just came back and said What are we going to do and so I started like a little Bible study group in the dorm a group of us got together and started what is now the southeast and the 1st president of that and so you know that started just to work in my own life and have this burning for ministry Well eventually that led to after college leaving doing accounting in business and going to mazing facts there center for evangelism and then starting to do Bible work full time leading canvassing I was the business manager and started teaching Bible work going to vandalism at a school called Souls last my life just took this whole other turn and I used to wonder like what is this about Lord I studied business but I do all this stuff and in some senses I think I felt at that. Point like I needed to lay down my net so to speak like that the cycles of the fishing they laid it down to follow Jesus into ministry and that's kind of what I felt which may sound odd now has 82 business and it's been a journey so. I was doing that and I had the opportunity to do my master's degree in business for free and so I ended up doing that back at Southern and while we were there some of us had a burden to have a vandals in training at our admin is university campus why don't we have that there and so we started a program called SALT slowing and leadership training and so I stuck around to help develop that and to coordinate that for the 1st 2 years that was going and so all of that was amazing and so many things and then I ended up going to Wildwood to their college for health of vandalism and they'd asked me to be the director there which is again totally out of my comfort zone and so I never worked in a health school before a very international student. Self-supporting institution and I learned many things there too and so it was like. Such an interesting path that I saw but it all seemed to be revolving around in one way or the other evangelism schools and missions and I really developed a love for that after a while. Listen to your story you've got a lot of very broad experiences that ministry can sing leadership Salt's your being in campuses school campuses even in health Angelos I'm. A very broad experiences and I are in business as a leader I'm sure that you had a perception that people probably view you as having a great walk of God and being passionate were you doing but what does it really like behind the scenes with your spiritual journey how is God actually led you personally through these experiences you had to start off with maybe about the time you had sult Yeah you know about the time I was a salt. I had come through some interesting things even then in my spiritual experience previous to that in my last job I had gotten to the point where it was probably one of the hardest spiritual times in my life previous to that a Realizing that I did a lot for God and I didn't feel like I really knew God almost like God was my boss there I actually did come up point scarily where I was working in full time ministry and I felt like if this is what there is to Christianity it's not working for me and I was a really hard thing because everyone looks up to you this is the hard thing you don't always realize or think about and doing ministry is somehow people think you're supposed to have it together and you know you have influence and so if you're not sure about stuff and you make bad choices then you're going to have ones all these other people and so it is very thing so what do you do and there's a time there I felt like if I shared with people that they would just you know tell me to pray more get me Helen White quoter or something like that and so I didn't feel comfortable but I praise the Lord that you sent certain people into my life that really were real that shared about their own struggles that caused me to come to a place of really analyzing my own relationship with God and what Jesus meant to me and who was God and that search was in the end what helped me to be able to go back by the time we were at salt and do ministry feeling like it was a privilege it wasn't a duty it wasn't just the Lord told me to do this but I felt like I don't deserve this I'm not that great of a person I just but I want to serve Jesus and so that was kind of like the 1st big pivotal spiritual experience and I know people always realize that this happened not just. People in regular regular quote unquote jobs happens to people in ministry too right now you said that there was is this is like the 1st pivotal moment what was that the one thing like if you could put it down as to one thing that shifted you from viewing God as your boss as he said Are you kind of almost stuck in ministry because of what people think of you in what God is going to think of you how did that shift to being a privilege Yeah basically. There came a point where I just said or 8 if this is real I'm going to continue doing this type of thing that I need to I need to know God and it wasn't even just doing ministry at that point it's like if I'm going to stay with this faith right I mean I know who you are God and that was that journey and I can't fully I wish I could give you a formula and I really do know that I studied this and I read this thing and then there was this other thing and then everything was fixed but it was I would say more of a desperation that's the one thing that I would say is coming to the point where it's a point of need like God I can't do this I need to know who you are and then seeking to find that out in Scripture in eating in prayer and different things and that getting me to a point where I could really give my life back to God and some of the the bitterness of things that happened the things I didn't realize were like oh well all right you mentioned Venice as being a wall how does bitterness come up in ministry or how does that prevent us from having a walk of God. You know better ness comes up and so many things in life and often I don't think we realize that when it happens often I think bitterness comes with disappointments and so maybe we are doing all this stuff for God whether it's in ministry or just in life and things don't go as planned because the project you put so much into it doesn't work out like you thought and then people maybe let you down or there is a death or some other tragedy sometimes but it's not even anything that large always sometimes it's just. The reality of the hardness of wife comes in and can feel like a right God where are you I'm here and where are you in my life what are you doing am without realizing it I found in my life the seeds of bitterness start to wedge between my faith and what it brings is doubt what it brings doubt which is crazy because then once that comes it's like the whole little pile of block just just isn't dangerous I have to think it has become the doubt because that bitterness is interfering with how good we got we believe God is I think it has to do with yeah how do we balance the truths that we read in Scripture and how good God it is and the promises that we read with the world that we live in and the stuff that we go through and if God is who supposedly he is then how do I reconcile that and there will be people in your meet them in the church who will say you know you're just being idealistic Yeah you know you have that youthful idealism all you do I see people going around think you're going to do all this we'll wait till you get older and you find out how it really isn't life and we start to believe them rights that are still. So what happened next year at Seoul that you're at Salt now. Ready to go from there well as I mentioned ended up going through Wildwood to the Center for home health evangelism there and being our director learning many things there and that was not an easy thing you there and I learned so much about myself and leadership and I made a lot of mistakes and yet God was still I could look back and say yeah it could have been way worse but it got helped and there was a lot of good that happened soon but at the same time I went through a new set of struggles in a personal life it's funny how it's like you come out of line and then God brings you through other situations that shows you other things right so I ended up through a relationship that I was and some different things with that really having to face again who am I What is my calling and what do I believe and I was challenged like do I really make a difference what do I do and I was told months like you know like you just want to marry a John Bradshaw are like some famous person you want to do this and almost like yeah you look down on people because if they're not in ministry like you and doing those types of things and that hit me hard because I didn't believe that but I started to realize through some of these things like why why do I do ministry Yeah and I and minister programs and I have positions and run a school but on the very ground level and I actually caring about people's lives and I'm making a difference in people's lives and it was a hard thing because I started them to say wow I don't know like I'm chasing all of this stuff but. At the same time who am I in the heart level with the right because you almost say that ministry comes with all of the same pitfalls of a regular job where you can start to climb the ladder and get well known in. Some kind of ego. It can yeah and I never thought of it like that and I don't think that I ever. Wanted to climb a ladder but I would say that I realized a lot of my identity became staked in who I did. And so it's really interesting that fast forward a little while later I ended up getting a call to go back to something kind of where I started and teach business and the different things I do believe that the Lord led in that in that was good and I enjoy it but I remember again having to go through wow when the when the titles are stripped away when it's not my job to run the ministry or in a vandal in school or do all of this who am I in there was a time when I felt like well maybe God doesn't need me as much and I just kind of got put on the bench like you would in a sports game or something you know I guess I kind of a failed at that once the Lord's going to put me on the bench here. How do we approach that you know because and some people listening to this will not relate because they haven't gone through that experience but there's others who maybe they're starting to become successful at what they do maybe they're a Bible worker you have a lot of baptisms a lot of success or their chemistry has high sales how do you deal with that that sense of internal maybe almost pride yeah. You know I believe the Lord allows us to situations to see that and there's pride but there's also insecurity it's funny how those high to gether right you know they seem opposite but they're actually fairly plain right and we get them in. Ways and means some people like you said might be Bible workers and this is have been through this experience some are people who are listening maybe you've never done any of these things but secretly inside you felt like maybe you were 2nd class citizen to the people called pastors and ministers and you just weren't good enough for that and you know the big thing that God has been showing me that I knew intellectually that I think thought was a longing to work in my heart is just ministry is not making a noise and a cell in the world and all my says that to and this whole idea that am I going to be broad in my house of this idealism of taking not taking over the world the changing the world for the law and you know I get all inspired going to see it all these other things fire to make a difference and large show me yes but at the same time how are you making a difference with your family making a difference with the people I put around you how are you making a difference with the students that you do have for still have a lot of opportunities and learning how to go deep instead of just broad and then if I make a major difference in a few people's life it may really change the world a whole lot more than all of the big projects initiatives and other things that I could invent and do. You know this actually reminds me of a car that I read from right where she says that it takes more personal religion to be a Christian in a secular work environment does to be working as a minister or a Bible worker. As you've transitioned in your life how do you see that difference come out. You know I'll. I realized that me and ministry is everywhere and just how fulfilling it can be to find that and the Lord is giving opportunities with what I do now to to start things and work on things but just the personal difference because you know just like I would say this is a big thing that's happened just as I mentioned that in life sometimes it's going deep with people and in your ministry instead of just broad that makes a difference I would say over the past year that's something that God's been really impressing me to do about my life and that sometimes than a painful thing it's like God has been pressing me to go deeper in my life and again situations came up that bred some disappointment and some bitterness and wondering do I really hear them I sure about my calling what do I know of God Things didn't work out like I thought they would. And I started to see again why does the Lord put us through some of these things maybe it's because just as in ministry we've got to be better choirs as being deep as a person and sometimes to do that God's got to pick me through things that show me myself what does that look like being deep as yourself with a person who have the right. I guess it sounds really good yeah I'm a deep Christian and I just have this deep faith in God I don't know and I would actually caution not to pray for that because the Lord my. Experience happened to have a lot of times I have seen that those that come through trials right becomes they're facing those different things. So for instance I was at a point they said of really questioning again because of things that happened what's going on with a lot of this and but that causes me to have to seek again I believe in I and there was a point where I was like I don't know how to hear God I'm not sure about a lot of stuff but there is stuff that I do know and this is true this is true this is true in the Bible so I'm going to do that I'm not going to go outside you know and do crazy things but at the same time I don't know if I fully trust God now and that's right real battle is though because when I did that is like ripping the heart out of your Christianity like you have all the head stuff and you do the right stuff but where is God in it where's the personal God who cares who wears who talks and and going through different experiences with that I was trying to sort out myself trying to sort of relationship aftermath stuff trying to sort out a bunch of things and you know top to even some councilors which is helpful but unfortunately I'm one point someone said something that got taken the wrong way that was essentially well maybe I just trust too much and providences had something shut down in me and said Well flying then I'm just going to do what I my I guess I have to figure this all out myself. And I will tell you the story of the one way that God has helped to repair a bunch of messy stuff and bring back and bring death and it sounds super cliché is through prayer. Other things didn't work just talking to people didn't work even heard of it the one thing that really started to change and bring that up again was being challenged to really pray and having people that prayed with that prayed for me. The pages Terry and John I know you've had them on a podcast and that gave me more courage and hope to do some of those things myself and to really profound a friend that was willing were cited to pray together every day for always said 10 days 1st but maybe we'll make it to what you know and what some different things like that I started to see God through that the most of anything start to break down walls of of bitterness of disappointment of different things to be able to connect and hear God and have that depth again to realize that you have the depth comes through going through trials but that can but trials don't necessarily bring death can push you away from God but are they going to push you away from God are they going to push you and. Is it that the depth came because you were dealing with actual emotional problems and prayer not just praying because you're praying and that be correct. Right I think that while we're at the point where we ourselves are broken we cannot help but pray about the real stuff in our lives because we've got to we need to pray those things in our lives I mean I pray those things for a while about them but sometimes I think I get guilty of just complaining to got more than I actually praying I talk more than I listen and so a big balance of that has been praying but also really praising God remembering what God said claiming what God said building faith have other people that are willing to pray with me and pray what God has said and believe that and go with that and believe in God means that for the deepest parts of myself right yeah that's really it's the heart of ministries in it that being real with guide and being real with yourself allows you to be real with other people and minister to them now just as we kind of come to the end of this conversation about how you transition from God being your boss dealing with things and going deeper and being more real with him what kind of advice would you give to a young person who's maybe still at that that 1st place where they're feeling but disillusioned Yeah I think if I said I would have someone that is in that place is that God will take the little bit that you can give him right now. When I was 1st going through the solution and the 1st time. The most that I could give to God then was saying I really don't know but I'm going to give you a chance and if the right real. I want to know and I want to see it and sometimes the 1st thing is just giving God a chance to work and saying it's taking that little bit of faith you do have and going with it when the devil says other things when other than when the whatever comes back and just taking what you do have and let God work in that and God will God will and it doesn't always happen overnight though God may be taking you on a process with that God comes then when we really do need him and finally let down maybe our own trying to do our life our way and say OK when we have least get a chance to do what you were away and the other thing is that I've realized is that the spiritual life is so different than life we see around us and the only way to continue that Bing is that that's got to become more real to us than what we see around us minimally way that I found to do that is really in prayer and in God's Word and spending that time and not just reading the Bible or live things that prayers but really seeking to to know God and to blame those promises of God to pray for the real things in our lives and the spend that until that becomes my reality more than what I see around me otherwise there's always going to be stuff in life to discourage us and solution to whatever that's beautiful so the heart of ministry is relationship with God. I think we could have said that in the beginning right now everyone would have agreed with us. But that's the truth of the matter it really is when God works in our lives in powerful ways we've seen got work through our own struggles and issues. Then you're always going to the ministry and it doesn't matter what your job is. Perfect perfect read and thank you so much for sharing Adams with us Michelle and we appreciate your contribution to. Plug in My pleasure thank you for joining Michelle and I as she recounted her journey of self discovery and growth to hear more episodes don't forget to follow us on i Tunes or go to the Web dot over R G slash beyond to find out more.


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