You Are Enough
I was climbing another mountain. I was near the top, sure I’d reach it soon, but this time I wasn’t making any progress...
Hello, worship leader! My name is Amanda Blankenship. I could put Pastor in front of my name or send you a whole list of job titles that have included everything from Worship Director to Songwriting Pastor as part of some really awesome ministries and churches. But really I’m just a woman on a journey, finding purpose and authority by discovering my Godly identity. So although we could discuss team building and leadership or continue debating what type of songs we should be leading, I’d much rather just talk to you today about identity. Not the worship leader or the worship pastor...just you.
I might not be that old..at least I don’t think I’m that old - haha, but I have spent a lifetime working in and for the church. I’m a preacher’s kid who has seen the beauty and ugliness of church life. And although there have been seasons of hurt and confusion, I could never shake the love I had for God’s people and the desire in my heart to serve her.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. - Psalm 27:4
To answer the call to serve God’s people, I obtained my local license, a Masters Degree in Ministry, and district licensing within a crazy two years, and all while serving my local church. And when I had to chance to head out and start my own worship team as the lead Worship Pastor, I went for it! It was a start up and I had to build the entire department from the ground up: AV, Vocalists, Band, everything. We started small, but grew quickly and before I knew it, I had a full team of wonderful people to minister with. I absolutely loved it. I love leading. I love learning. I love building teams, equipping people. And yes, I even love the planning and organization of the ministry and the services. It was perfect! Everything made sense. I had answered God’s call. I had worked to achieve the position of worship pastor and I wasn’t too bad at it either.
Back to that mountain I mentioned earlier.
God has always shown me stages of life in visions of a journey. They are often vague and far off, but they are enough to light the way, enough to keep me on the right path. Well, every time God took me back to this particular mountain, I was still standing in the same place, looking at the top, but no closer to its summit.
God began speaking to me and my husband telling us that it was time for me to step down as worship pastor of the church. I had built the team he needed me to build and it was time for them to do it without me, time for me to move on. I wasn’t surprised, for He had told me from the beginning of the startup that I would not be there long, but I didn’t expect it so soon. And I had absolutely no next step. I selfishly worried about everything I would lose if I quit. In a prayer I wrote to God at the time, I remember talking to him about it and saying, “God, you know I love to lead worship and equip people and build teams and ...etc...why would you take this from me now? I won’t have anywhere to fulfill my calling!”
Can you imagine saying this to God? Let me tell you, He was quick to remind me who owns all the resources and who put those desires and passions in my heart in the first place.
He then took me back to that mountain but this time he widened my view. I could not only see the top of the mountain, but I could also see myself standing on the mountain. I was surprised by what I saw. I was standing on side of that mountain with my arms stretched wide, trying to push all kinds of stuff up the mountain with me: people, job titles, resources, education.... everything I had worked so hard to accomplish and obtain.
And God said, “Let them go.”
“Let them go?", I asked, "All of it? Let it ALL go?”
“Yes," He replied, "All I want is you.”
Tears filled my eyes. Panic gripped my heart. “But God, I’ve worked so hard. I’ve pushed them all this way... I can make it. I can get it ALL up there.”
“No you can’t. You aren’t supposed to. Let them go.”
As I stood there shaking and straining to keep it all balanced, I still begged for assurance. Would it all be lost? If I let them go, were they going to stay there or plummet to the bottom of the mountain and be destroyed?
“God, is it just for now or forever?” I asked.
He didn’t reply and I knew it was time for a decision.
How badly did I want what God had for me? Was I willing to strip myself of all the labels and titles and just be Amanda? “How could that be enough?” I thought.
I looked to the top of the mountain once more, but this time I didn’t look back down at the things in my arms. Instead, I took a deep breath and slowly released them. Every. Single. One. Until nothing was left.
I finished the climb to the top and stood before God with nothing to offer but my love and my heart. No fancy titles, degrees or accolades, just me, imperfect, vulnerable, but absolutely loved and absolutely known. I heard His voice one last time. And this time he said, “You are enough.”
Saint Francis of Assisi, AD 1181-1226, Assisi, Italy, was the founder of the Franciscan Order. Early in life, his own father took him to court over money that he had used to serve the church. And on the day of the trial, Francis not only handed back his father every dime, but he also removed all of his clothes and placed them in his father’s hands and said: “From now on I can freely say ‘Our Father who art in heaven’, not father Pietro di Bernardone, to whom, behold, I give up, not only the money, but all my clothes too”. A bishop who witnessed the dialogue was so moved by Francis’s willingness to give everything he had, he took off his mantle and put it around the young Francis, “while physically clothing his nakedness, [it] also symbolized a transfer of dignity and respect.” (Poets and Saints, p.170-171)
Worship leader, I’m not sure where you are on the journey up the mountain, whether you’ve just begun or you’ve made it to the top, but know this. There will never be a time that you empty yourself and stand naked before the Lord that He won’t CLOTHE YOU with grace, DIGNIFY what you feel is worthless, and bestow AUTHORITY for you to fulfill the calling on your life! Don’t be afraid to follow Him into the unknown and don’t hold to titles and position more than you do your calling. Your calling is to the people of God and your responsibility is first and foremost to the Lord Himself!
So although I don’t go by Pastor Amanda anymore, God has given me more people to pastor outside of the church than He ever did in. He is using my songwriting, my worship leading, my love for building teams, everything! Maybe one day it will have a name or a title again, but I’m okay if it doesn’t. I will be content to be Amanda. I will worship. I will lead others to worship and follow after God with fierceness. To faithfully follow even when it doesn’t make sense. I will be free and when the next mountain comes, because it will, I will know that I am enough!
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