Hey there my name is Darin. I am the husband of a smoke show, father of three girls and I have recently left the stress and striving lifestyle of church ministry and I have found rest in Jesus and my family.
A couple years ago I was – I do a lot of driving for my job – and I’m in my car. I’m driving my truck. I’m driving and He shows me this picture of, I’m at a table sitting across the table from Jesus and Jesus is looking at me. And He’s holding like two globes, like, not world globes, but like spheres, like glowing balls, glowing spheres. He lifts up His left hand, He shows it to me and says, “this is your life now. It’s good. I’ve given you all these things; all these things that you’re going after, they’re good and you can have them. Like, you’re living a good life. You’re, you’re, you’re faithful, you’re a good son, and I love you and this is your life now.” Then He raises the other one, the right hand, and He lifted it a little higher. And I, it’s like the, the glow, or this sphere became a little bit bigger, a little more enticing, a little more color to it. And He says, “but this is your destiny and this, you can have this. But if you want to experience this, and you don’t know what it is, you don’t know what’s in it, but if you want to experience that, it’s going to require faith. It’s going to take a step of faith.”
That was a few years ago, when I had that picture. And I’ve always kind of leaned on it, but I never really, I never really grasped what faith looked like, for me. I thought it meant quitting my job and going into full time ministry. Like, that was the risk or that was the leap of faith, that, and then I would experience my destiny. That is exactly what I was striving for most of my adult life. I knew that God had called me to the ministry at 15 years old, and was really involved with youth ministries. And then even as I, in my early 20s, I was a youth pastor at a couple different places. And, you know, I just, I believed that if I did that good enough, and long enough and hard enough that I’d eventually be able to be a big church pastor, right. And like, I didn’t want to work in the world, I wanted to work in the church.
I was definitely striving in ministry my whole life, but I at least I had joy and hope for the possibilities or what it could be. And so that’s what kind of kept me going in ministry was just the excitement of doing it. When it first started, when I really felt the lack of joy, my instinct was to press through it. I felt weak, I felt like, I can’t give up, I can’t quit. It’s just spiritual warfare. It’s just people pushing against me. And there’s the verse where Paul talks about, you know, taking, finding joy in the struggle and finding joy in the pressure. That was gone for me. Like, I did not consider it pure joy at all. Like, I had no joy left and I just really felt the Lord was trying to get my attention with that.
I think it’s easy for me and maybe other ministers to like, just claim joy and claim victory over things. And I was like, No, I actually want to experience joy. You know? I actually want to be joyful, and not just wear a shirt that says joy and like grit my teeth and press through it. I was just kind of done with that. And, again, I had a very full time job. I worked, you know, 50 hours a week. I found it very difficult to have any time for the things that were really bringing me joy and stirring up excitement in me – the creative stuff – when I had a prayer meeting one night, a worship set the next night, a ministry meeting the next, literally four or five days a week was dedicated, four or five nights a week was dedicated to the church or ministry in the church. And I believe when it says, that ‘God gives you the desires of your heart,’ that when I start to notice new desires in my heart that it’s okay to like, look at that and see, Is that, is that from God? You know. Is He trying to stir something up inside of me? I didn’t have time to, like, invest in those new desires that were coming up. You know, my wife and my kids were the ones that suffered from the lack of time, you know.
Towards the end of February, my wife and I – at the same time – we both, both of our hearts were just, I think, [had] a lack of joy for the things that we’d been doing and a lack of joy towards the things that we were pursuing in ministry and in the, specifically inside of the church. And I started having some conversations with a couple of the guys in the team. Some of their natural reaction was kind of the sabbatical language, you know. ‘Maybe it’s time to step back for a time.’ And for the first time, I felt like, No, I feel like this is something different. I don’t, I don’t feel like I want to take a step away for a while. I think I want to take a step away. Like, I want to step into a different direction than what I’ve been doing my whole life with, with ministry in the church. It was tough, and it was difficult. And it was hard conversations. But I knew, at that point, what the Lord was calling me to do. So now it was a matter of like, trying to do it gently and softly and correctly, right. I didn’t want to leave bitter. I didn’t want to leave hurt. I didn’t want to leave…I wasn’t hurt and there was a lot of confusion going on inside of me of like, God, I don’t get it. Like, why are You, why are You taking away my desire to go to church? Like simple, basic things.
And I’ll be honest, too, I struggled with, and I’m still…I’m not going to talk like I’m out of this season. I’m not. I struggle right now, currently, with reading the Bible. I struggle with gathering in an organized service type of way. And it’s all because both of those things for me were tied to this striving for ministry thing. Like, I would read the word to prepare for a message. I would read the word, yes to grow closer to Jesus, but there was always an end game. There was never like, this presence, attitude. It was always like, “Lord, I want to spend time with You. Give me wisdom, so that I can share it with someone and bless them.” You know, it was never like a, there was never a time where the ministry stuff didn’t matter as much as presence with the Lord.
Another good friend of mine really encouraged me during this process, because I was very confused like, Man, am I, am I getting into some witchcraft? Am I getting into some funky stuff where I don’t even want to be around, “Christian stuff,” or Christian people that are talking about spiritual things anymore? You know? And I was struggling with it. And the advice he gave me was he, he directed me to the chrysalis and what that looks like for a caterpillar when it goes into the chrysalis. There’s this season, where it melts down into this goo and becomes kind of chaotic. And the words that he was using were chaos and confusion is in that gooey, messy place. But everything that’s in there, it was given, it was given all of the identity of that butterfly that it’s gonna later become, and it doesn’t even know it, you know what I mean? And so, so I’m kind of in that in-between season. I think I’m in that in-between place, I’m in that chrysalis, if you will.
So from that, from this supernatural alignment that my wife and I were experiencing, we did decide to step away from the Ministry with every intention of continuing to go to church, because we had some relationships there. And then COVID hit like, a week or two later. And church, our church, shut down. During this process of, kind of, transitioning seasons, both of us had this inkling for a fresh start, for something new and something different. And it just so happened that I had an opportunity within my, my place of work to…I’ve had this job for 15 years. It just so happened that there was a parallel opportunity in Wichita, Kansas, which isn’t too far away, but it’s, for us, it’s the big city, compared to Southwest Kansas. And I kind of brought it up to my wife and for the first time, she was like, “Let’s pray about it.” And it was a, if you want to talk about miracles, maybe that was a miracle for me in my heart. Like, just the opportunity to maybe experience something different was exciting and joyful, you know. It was a joyful moment.
It didn’t take long for God to just really start opening doors and putting things together. I was working from home there during COVID for a while, for a few weeks and that was beautiful. That was kind of a dream come true and kind of a big desire in my heart was always to be able to eat breakfast with my girls. I would wake up about five o’clock in the morning, and go to work and come home about five o’clock in the evening, and for the first time ever I’m at home in my pajamas doing work and getting to spend time with my family with zero desire to do or go anywhere else. The man that I used to be before, I cared a lot about my relationships, like I cared a lot about my friends and my friendships, and stewarding those and cultivating that, and I was good at calling people and communicating. But I struggled with that with my wife. And that was always the first thing. If, if a friendship was struggling, if a relationship was struggling, that weighed on me so much. I devoted my time to fixing those relationships. And I know now that my wife would watch that, and she would see that, and she would see how those relationships meant more than the relationships at home. And I think this is probably the story for a lot of men, maybe even a lot of men in ministry. But this whole 2020, I know it’s been a struggle for some people and it’s been a tough time. But for me, it was the greatest year of my life, I would say. And the perspective shift that I’ve had not only spiritually, about the church, about my relationship with Jesus, but also the love that I have for my family. And like, that is the most important thing. That is, that is the most important thing. And it wasn’t for me, for so long, it was more important for me to build something for the future in regards to ministry.
I can look back now with just so much wisdom and understanding of what He was trying to do. It’s like, He literally had to pull me out of it. Like, that’s what’s happened, man. And so we, over Christmas break, moved from Dodge City to Wichita with just an excitement and a joy for future opportunities. And God has just brought my family together to the point where we worship. That’s it. We worship, you know. We worship together. We worship at home. I’m not needing and craving anything other than that right now, like my wife and my kids.
I had a friend come up to me during all this and was like, he was very concerned about me and was asking, you know, “Do you feel like you have people that are pouring into you and you’re pouring into and you’re getting encouragement from them?” And I’m like, “My wife.” Why in 18 years of marriage was that never good enough? You know, like, He brought me a woman that I, from the stage and from the pulpit would have said was my best friend, and it just wasn’t true. It wasn’t true that she was my best friend because I was always trying to cultivate other things besides my relationship with her. God had to shift my heart. And that’s why that’s why I can, I can boldly and confidently call this a supernatural alignment because He did this. Like, it wasn’t my choice that I said, Hey, my marriage needs work. And I’m going to do this. So He literally like, was cutting things away from me, right? He, He cuts away the dead branches, right?
I don’t know what the future holds in regards to church and ministry for me. But I do know that I’m called by God still. And I do know that I love God. And I do know that He is paving a way for me to produce fruit. He’s paving a way for me to find joy. He’s paving a way for me to be prosperous. And I have found so much excitement and joy and passion for life over the last, you know, 10 to 12 months. I wouldn’t change it for anything, man. I’m telling you what, the world was like, literally in flames for large portions of the year. While the world was completely in chaos and confusion, while church, a lot of churches were fighting to stay open or fighting for their rights to gather together, my wife and I were at home in our pajamas, and loving every second of this new thing together. And I think I can just see, I can see what the Lord was doing because I chose to step out of…I’m not gonna just say the church but like, I stepped out of everything that I built. Everything that I built for myself, my life, the life that I built. I have stepped out of that and into that faith space that He offered me. And I can see…What’s really cool is I don’t, I don’t feel like I mindfully took this big leap of faith to be where I’m at right now. But looking back, I absolutely took a step of faith.
I’m just, I’m so thankful for everywhere that I’ve been. There’s never been a moment that I’ve doubted His, not just existence, but presence in my life, man. Like, I’ve had that relationship with Him since I was seven years old – of just knowing that He was with me and that He had a call on my life. So I guess if you’re looking for a miracle in the story, stress is gone. Anxiety is gone. All of that stuff that came with the burden that I was carrying, to build a ministry, to pound that, you know, square peg in a round hole, to make that happen. It’s gone. So like miraculously, that is gone and I’m living in the season that He has called me to be in right now. And I absolutely love it, every second of it. Yeah, it’s good.