So…What Do You Do?

By: Celina Holliman

February 2023

Do you have a hobby? A favorite recreational activity? I’ve asked this question from many ministers over the years, and in my own private poll, a staggering 80 percent don’t! We need a life outside the ministry! Ministry is a big part of our life, but it shouldn’t be our life.  

What happens if, suddenly, ministry is no longer there? You may have been led by God to step away for a season or a shift happens and you are let go from your current position. We have a Methodist minister friend who was suddenly let go, and they found themselves wrestling with “who am I?” and “what now?” 

Ministry can be all-consuming if we allow it. If it changes or goes away for a season, would we have an identity crisis? 

We stepped down from pastoring the church we helped plant in Canada in order to move to Alabama where my family needed our help. We didn’t really know what to expect once we moved. What opportunities would open up for us? How would we start over again—for the third time? I didn’t realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in the title “pastor” and had to settle in my heart that being a son of God was all the identity I needed. But it begged the questions, “What would this guy, whose face I shave every day, enjoy learning and growing in? What is life going to look like without ministry for this season?”  

Some of our mentors, when we were very young in ministry, made it a point to take us bowling! “Now that you’re starting in ministry,” they said, “you need something that is not ministry.” Shortly after that, we moved to the mission field and lived in Mexico City for a few years. While there, we were determined to explore the museums and parks where we lived, as well as nearby cities and rural areas. We also enjoyed watching American movies in the nice theaters. It would help us feel connected to home and gave us an activity to enjoy together as we unplugged from our rigorous schedule. 

We have some other friends who, after umpteen years of ministry abroad, are now back in the U.S. and not actively in any ministerial position. Sadly, it seems like they are completely untethered. What is life supposed to look like now? 

We’ve known ministers who are more in tune with how their ministry is doing than with their own marriage, family, and health. Without fail, these people end up burned out at best, or with shipwrecked faith at worst. There are many factors that contribute to that, but one that is almost always present is they were obsessed with overgrowing their ministry but forgot to refill their own cup.  

One reason we need something else to do is because we need recreation. God designed us to work and rest! But rest doesn’t just mean a Sunday afternoon nap. It means doing things we find recreational and life-giving, something that allows our soul to rest from the issues at hand—whether our own or others’. It’s like unplugging from one outlet where we’re “on” and “pouring out” and plugging into another outlet where we’re “regenerating” and “taking in.” Count on your spouse, kids, or friends to give you ideas and get you doing something else. If you’re the type of person who is task-oriented and driven, you may need to ask for help from your family to make you get out and try new things. I’m the fun factor in our family and my wife . . . is not. So I get to drive in this area! But one of my artsy kids had us all going to the art museum, something I would’ve never thought to do, and I found some very interesting things that expanded my thinking. 

The other main reason we need something else to do is to create another level of connection for others. Let’s say you meet someone new. You don’t know anything about their spiritual state, their life journey, or their life context. But you do know God loves them and you want to connect them to the Father’s heart for them. You have interests and experiences that will open more doors to connection when you have something else you do.  

Imagine the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 telling us his heart’s desire:

So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us”.

— 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (New King James Version)

So, who are you, Paul? What’s an apostle? What is the church? Oh! You make tents, oh, ok! We have a starting connection. 

“But that’s just not spiritual” you may say. Everything we do is spiritual because we are spirit beings in vital connection with God Himself. When we compartmentalize our lives, we do not live holistically. For us as believers, there’s no such distinction between the sacred and the secular. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20, NKJV). Everywhere we are, Christ is. We are in Him, and He is in us. More life-changing ministry has happened over a game of golf, a hunting trip, or a pottery class than we’ll ever realize! 

So let’s ask ourselves: What do I love to do? What other areas do I enjoy learning and growing in? What makes me, me? What other creative outlets do I have? Making the time and space to pursue these will be game-changing. It’s vitally important that we have things for our own soul’s sake! It will nourish and refresh us and open up our creative thinking. And the next time someone says, “So, what do you do?”, we’ll have lots to talk about and an extra point of connection. 

Brad and Celina Holliman, A.R.M.I Regional Advocates –