Over time I realized that my enthusiasm and excitement for ministry was being depleted. I could see that my heart was actually becoming jaded towards what I thought was my purpose for living. I started to dig deep to try to understand what had happened to get me to this place, with hope to move forward with a restored purpose and excitement in serving God.

Here’s what I figured out so far:

1. I defined my worth by how well I was liked by my friends and by what I could accomplish.

I was blown away! It was my first weeks in campus ministry. It was the first time any of my peers took such notice of me. At first I was a little leery of their enthusiastic initiative and interest in me. But I have to admit, I loved their attention and acceptance.

They were soon the best friends I had ever had and I didn’t want to let them down. I wanted to emulate them. They gave me social connection and a bold reason for living. I thought if I just did what they did, I too could experience the joy they experienced.

As I listened to their passionate vision I was convinced I had found my reason for living. I too wanted to change the world for Jesus. I enthusiastically joined my friends in prayer, evangelism, discipleship, conferences, and mission trips.

It was as if a shot of spiritual adrenaline had been injected into my life. I was excited about the possibilities of being a world changer for Jesus. What couldn’t we do?

I thought I had finally found the recipe for my perfect life: good friends and a great cause. I envisioned my life only getting better and better. I assumed I would experience unconditional love in friendship and see God use me to change the world with increasing influence. I thought I had left my miserable life of social dysfunction and depression behind.

I lived as though my worth was contingent on my ambitious plans, my hustle, my execution, my success, and my social savvy. I relied on my energy and talent to love my friends and change the world. I was needing to learn my only true worth in God’s mercy, grace, provision, and protection.

Corey Porter
Photo Credit: Ben Ng

2. As my disappointments in friendship and ministry added up, my heart became jaded.

As my friendships in campus ministry deepened I was grieved to discover that my social dysfunction came with me. My social insecurities were deeply ingrained and negatively impacted the way I related to my new friends.

As good as my new friendships were, they weren’t perfect. At times I still felt disrespected, shunned, belittled, or ignored and it aggravated past wounds of rejection. I was thankful for the courage and safe space to talk with friends, but it never seemed to completely resolve my social insecurities. I wasn’t able to escape the gravity of my social dysfunction.

I was overly self-conscious about my ministry performance and compared myself to others incessantly. I was judging and felt judged. Without intention, I was driven to be noticed, motivated to relate and do ministry out of secret competition.

My perfect life wasn’t working out as I had hoped. Along with the benefits of friendship and ministry I experienced many disappointments. Every unaddressed disappointment took away a bit of my enthusiasm and excitement for ministry.

Losing capacity for friendship and ministry

I was chronically exhausted. I had very little relational capacity. I was tired of getting people to like me. I cringed when I had to participate in any ministry planning process. I was leery of making any more plans. I feared it would only bring on more disappointment.

Confessing the reality of my dysfunction and brokenness to my leaders brought my ministry to a sudden halt. I was burnt out and unable to continue in my previous leadership capacity. For a season I had to disengage from campus ministry altogether. Part of me was relieved to be free of the stress. Part of me was devastated by broken dreams. I had failed my self-expectations for friendship and I felt that I couldn’t deliver great accomplishments for God.

I didn’t realize just how much I was trying to find my worth in my friends and accomplishments until I was removed from ministry. Unexpectedly, this precipitated a journey to recover my identity in Jesus alone.

Somewhere along the way I lost my enthusiasm and excitement for friendship and ministry. I confess a hardening of my heart. The agitation of unaddressed disappointments developed a callous of distrust to protect myself from God, faith, and others.

Corey Porter
Photo Credit: Ben Ng

3. I needed to take responsibility for my jaded heart.

Who was to blame? Was it the organization, my leaders, my friends? It felt easier and less painful to deflect the heat off of me. As I deepened in self-awareness I had to admit any shifting of blame was only because I was resistant to hard soul-searching work. I didn’t want to dig and come to terms with my disappointments.

Regardless of blame, I was the only one who could take responsibility for my jaded heart. No one else would. More than anything, I needed to wrestle through my disappointments and learn how to rest in the mercy, grace, provision, and protection of Jesus. I needed to discern what was wrong with my expectations. I needed to see that God’s faithfulness and promises were intact even when it didn’t seem like they were.

I needed to make changes

I knew I had to put my ministry on pause and I was highly motivated to make internal changes. I needed to seriously address my deeper social insecurities. I needed to get to the roots of my disappointment, confess my pride, and apply God’s mercy and grace. I needed ongoing healing for my jaded heart. Otherwise, I couldn’t move ahead in my friendships and ministry.

What motivated me to such high expectations in the first place? I desperately wanted to leave behind my past of guilt, shame, and self-condemnation. I thought I had found my way out.

My new friends and life purpose got my hopes up. I started to dream. It was as if my conscience was saying, “If I could just fit in and be liked by these friends it will save me from my social dysfunction. If I could accomplish great things for God it would make amends for my past and give me credit in the eyes of myself, God, and others.” I was subtly using ministry to prove my worth, but it ended up unraveling me.

Is your heart growing jaded? Join me in confessing it to God, to draw to him to find the true soul healing we desperately need.

Upon reflection, most of my misery was self-inflicted. Who was forcing me to live this way? My over-achieving tendencies simply used ministry to work off a deep sense of worthlessness within me. While I was in ministry, it was so easy for me to think I was serving God for his glory. But when it all fell away it revealed just how motivated I was to do ministry to find my meaning and self-worth. – Corey Porter

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About the Author

Corey Porter

Corey Porter writes creative content for university students on multiple digital domains. His voice has been tempered by twenty four years of ministry experience, both as student and staff. His personal life is kept full serving his wife Peggy and three children in Vancouver. He enjoys sport, art and collectibles.

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