Choose a ministry mulligan over misery

Choose a ministry mulligan over misery

I have tried really hard to like golf, but I prefer hobbies that do not tempt me to say or do things I will regret later. One thing I do like about golf is the mulligan—a do-over stroke that doesn’t count. They make those terrible shots disappear into thin air.

 In Genesis 35, we see Jacob in desperate need of a mulligan. He has wasted the last decade of his life and God gave him a chance to start over by moving him back to Bethel. Eventually, you will need a ministry mulligan, too, so let’s retrace Jacob’s footsteps back to Bethel. 

Get up and go

God initiated Jacob’s restoration by telling him in Genesis 35:1 to “Get up! Go to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there.” In defiance of God’s clear instruction, Jacob lived in Shechem for 10 years instead of Bethel. His large family paid for his delayed obedience (aka: disobedience) in Genesis 34. 

Fortunately, Jacob got another chance to get up and go to Bethel. I love it when God gives us a mulligan!

If you are stuck spiritually, consider making an aggressive spiritual move. Get up and go back to where you started when you fell in love with Jesus. Initiate a spiritual homecoming by building a new altar to the Lord. If your ministry is stuck, the same instructions apply to the group. There are no secrets or shortcuts to repentance and revival—just turn around (repent) and return to your first love.

Clean out your closets

Jacob’s family closets were full of foreign gods. If they were going to start over in a new place, they needed to re-prioritize what to pack. Jacob said to his family, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes” (Genesis 35:2).

We’ve moved several times in the last five years as my ministry journey has led us from Nashville to Tulsa to Dallas. Each move made us rethink what we really wanted to keep, give away, or throw away.

Spiritual house cleaning is usually not a quick or painless process. However, if you want to get unstuck spiritually, you will need to aggressively get rid of some of your old baggage. After Jacob’s family cleaned out their closets, they buried their idolatry under the oak of Shechem. 

What’s in your closet? Would you consider some aggressive spring cleaning for your soul, your family, or your ministry? Think of one thing that needs to be removed from your calendar or computer right now, then get rid of it before you change your mind.

Rebuild your altar 

 Jacob eventually returned to Bethel, where he had made a covenant with God 30 years earlier (Genesis 28). The old altar was rubble, so he rebuilt it. Jacob had basically wasted the last three decades of his life obsessing over his job at the expense of his relationship with God and his family. 

Instead of giving up, Jacob got up, cleaned up, and rebuilt his life based on the original covenant that God was giving him another shot at. Jacob’s ministry mulligan is a great reminder that God is more interested in what is ahead of you than what is behind you.  

Jesus is generously offering you grace instead of guilt, a mulligan instead of misery. Is it time for you to go back to Bethel for a spiritual homecoming? Get packing, friend!

Director of Pastoral Wellness
Mark Dance
Guidestone Financial Resources
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