DUTY or DEVOTION: What’s Your MO?



AFTER ALMOST 12 YEARS of non-paid yet deeply foundational church ministry in three different states, we landed in Texas (October/2007). We shopped around a bit until we found Gateway Church and discovered we shared the same values. Despite their size, Gateway is intimately accountable, anointed, and extremely healthy. After serving in unhealthy churches, I now readily detect the difference.

I TOOK a much-needed deep breath and became a wall-flower. I feasted on Pastor Robert’s intense messages, wept during worship as God mended broken parts of my heart, and basked in a state of receiving. After 12 years of constantly giving out, I had actually forgotten how wonderful it felt to receive.

AT THE END of my self-imposed, four-year sabbatical, I sensed my spirit going a bit stir crazy and realized it was because I wasn’t giving out, which is necessary to human health. Next thing I knew, I’d fallen into the women’s ministry—not my norm. Anyone who knows me well probably just fainted at this news.

I SAY “fell into” because it started with my request for a mentor—which I hadn’t had in 12 years (the woman in the picture)—and that request turned me into a mentor with a section leader who would mentor me. This perfect arrangement all happened within 2 days. During the two-hour interview, the head of Gateway’s Pink Mentoring asked me, “What does mentoring mean to you?”

HER QUESTION spiraled so deep into my heart that I almost couldn’t find a concise answer. Our first church had mentoring/discipling in its DNA. Kinda like paws on a dog, it’s just how we walked, and I didn’t know anything different. That DNA not only rubbed off on us but imparted a passion for mentoring. In fact, my husband takes all the life lessons we learned in church while in our twenties and applies them at work today. Consequently, he is GREAT at developing new leaders.

Why the emphasis on great?

IN MENTORING, the difference between a good mentor and a great mentor boils down to duty and devotion. Many people mentor successfully out of duty, which says: we do it because it’s right, or because we’re commanded to, as in Titus 2. Or perhaps, because that’s where the need is.

THERE’S NOTHING WRONG with being a good mentor. These “duties” are often part of our personal journey to discover what we’re truly called to do. Besides, someone will always have to function out of duty because the person who’s actually called to fill the need is being lazy, selfish, or is simply unaware.

DEVOTION, on the other hand, clicks in at a deeper level. Some are aware of this level called devotion but never connect it to their mentoring duty. They don’t allow it to motivate that relationship. Or they’re busy doing so many other tasks and spreading themselves thin that it’s impossible to serve with the type of motivation that runs deeper than duty mentality.

IN MY heart-of-hearts, I long to see people set free, healed, equipped, and advancing the Kingdom—Embattled Spirits. For me, these are more than just nice words and philosophical phrases. I weep over these realities. This stuff arouses so much righteous anger over oppression and avoidable sickness/disease and self-defeating attitudes, etc, that I have to do something.



HOW OFTEN do we jump on an opportunity because it looks and sounds glorious? Does our devotion to what’s great get trampled by our agreeing to do what’s good?


It’s not a placard over my head that invites applause;

it’s a heart-force, a passion that requires readiness and commitment.

WHO or what are you devoted to? Better yet, what good is standing between you and great?


The way of the Embattled Spirit.


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4 Responses to “DUTY or DEVOTION: What’s Your MO?”

  1. Ann Vande Zande says:

    Wow. You nailed that one! Great information and spot on from my perspective. I see the duty verses devotion issue in my working as the director of women’s ministry at my church and elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve served out of duty. No, not necessarily my strongest gifting or inclination but as you put it, those who were called were being “lazy, selfish or unaware.” I share your passion for seeing others healed and more and appreciate your devotion to the calling you’ve been given. Thank you for this post. It was encouraging.

  2. J.A.Marx says:

    I figured we shared that passion. Good to see you on the Embattled Spirit.
    Luv ya Ann

  3. joyce says:

    Those were wonderful days that were life-giving. We were so innocent in our lives and confidence that God would lead us into “life” that could only come from the creator of heaven and earth. We were as confident of our weakness as we were of his strength which made loving pretty easy.

    I have such warm memories of our years with you and Ed and then the little ones:)

  4. J.A.Marx says:

    Well put, Joyce. The “incubator” days at VCF were definitely unique on many levels.

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