addiction to ministry [part one]

Written by Nikole Hahn

Nikole Hahn is a recovering perfectionist blogging at "Life Upside Down" at She is also the publisher of The Relevant Christian Magazine (@TRCMagazine). She is a member of Word Weavers International, a book reviewer, writer, and coffee addict.

January 20, 2012

Soldier in quicksand

[serialposts]What is wrong with me?

I came to church with stress hanging on me like an oversized jacket. My heart had focused on  people instead of God’s provisions. Ministry failed to excite me. And then it hit me…

Like quick sand, the more I struggled the faster the mire sucked me under. Soon, I didn’t recognize me anymore. Every time I got together with people it was like someone else stepped in. Everything I did was purpose-driven and I began to disappear into ministry life, splitting my time until I barely recognized the old grump who walked into church on Sunday. Something had to be done, or I would lose the joy. My smile might disappear entirely.

A few Sundays ago, I came to two conclusions. First, I needed to remove the idol from my heart where God should dwell. Second, I needed to let go of many things to serve God well in where He has called me. I can’t go on at this pace. All ready I am burned out and wishing that I could return to simply worshipping again on Sundays. Writing and praying are my heart.

A friend reminded me that the world’s future doesn’t depend on what I do on Sunday. I’m a fixer. That’s a curse. It interferes where God should always have the control. Things will be changing. I can feel it. A new season slowly unfolding, and I am excited about that.

So I am praying that God will provide the people so that I may let go of more ministries. There’s a danger of letting ministry become who you are instead of being the co-worker, the wife, the friend, the daughter, or the sister I need to become and love.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for teaching me this today and showing me the hard truths. The hardest truths to face are oftentimes the truth about oneself. Help me to place you in my heart and displace the idol that resides there now. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Are you addicted to ministry? How has your addiction harmed your real life relationships?


  1. Anonymous

    Coming at you as a recovering servaholic: you wrote this:
    So I am praying that God will provide the people so that I may let go of more ministries. 

    Truth is, you’re still fixing if you don’t let go until someone takes your place. If God wants you to let go, you let go, and the gap will be filled either by someone God calls or someone else who is still addicted to serving to meet their own inner need for significance (instead of letting God infuse significance and serving out of abundant overflow).  If you quit, they will come. 🙂

    (haha, I’m still FIXING by writing that! Sorry!)

    • Nikole Hahn

      LOL. I get what you are saying. :o) Is there a cure for us fixers?

      • Anonymous

        Get ready for a serious answer to a joking question 🙂  ….Well, for me, I’ve just finished participating in a group about codependency – my 3rd session of it – and I’m still struggling with it. But I’ve made serious improvements. Codependency is a word with a confusing meaning; it used to relate to say…an alcoholic’s spouse, for example, who was “CO” dependent on the substance. But the usage of the term has expanded to mean all kinds of fixing and controlling behaviors, and what I’m learning is that when we truly live relationships God’s way, we start to operate out of response to him instead of striving to get our own needs met through fixing and control. Shorter answer to your question? Yes. Knowledge. 🙂

        • Nikole Hahn

          Useful answer. And makes a lot of sense.

  2. Diana Trautwein

    You know, I could write my own multi-part series on this very important topic. Thanks for this – and your earlier commenter is exactly right. Let go first. If the ministry is one that needs to continued for the kingdom, then God will raise up one or more to carry it forward. It is not up to you to find a replacement – and don’t let anyone, including your pastor, tell you that it is. If God is saying ‘enough,’ then stop. Period.

    (And I used to be a pastor until I retired and I had to learn this lesson over and over and over again. And I sometimes had to convince my senior pastor that God could be trusted to cover the ball I was dropping, too!) It’s a professional vulnerability, this addiction to fixing, so pastors often are not helpful in the process of disentangling. You are on the absolute right track. Follow your passion – God gave it to you. Remember your own personal priorities, then let loose anything that short-circuits your ability to be your best self, the one God designed. It is not selfish. May I repeat that a little more loudly: IT IS NOT SELFISH to seek God’s best, God’s true call on your life. Blessing on this journey. It’s not straight ahead, but it is rich and rewarding – and sometimes filled with lovely surprises. (and rueful head-shaking, too!) 

  3. Diana Trautwein

    supposed to read in the second line, “one that needs to BE continued…” Got a little too excited there…

  4. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    “It interferes where God should always have the control.”

    I think this is the part that exhausts us so…when we find ourselves thinking that we can wrest control from Him.  Been there. Still go there—I sneak back there every time I’m not vigilant. Which is frequently. No bueno.

    You’ve received wise counsel here, Nikole. And I admire your transparent treatment of a tough topic. Thank you.

    • Nikole Hahn

      Thanks. Yep, I feel much more at peace now that I have identified it and have a plan of action.

  5. Sharon R Hoover

    I hear you and echo your words in my own heart! I have found that my need for self-sufficiency drives much of my addiction. God, however, created us to be in community. When I live this reality, I find so much more peace and encouragement. Regardless…my flawed nature requires constant reminders of this reality!


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addiction to ministry [part one]

by Nikole Hahn time to read: 2 min