jan jones

this post is part two in the “pausing to pray” series.  you can find part 1 here and part 2 here

Day 2 – Confession
Written by: Jan Jones
Letting Go of Sin

Hebrews 12:1
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, …”

image[3] I take my coffee each morning on my front porch.  The porch provides a beautiful view of my “front yard” garden – yaupon hollies, autumn ferns, pots of annuals and hydrangeas.  In early June, I noticed a vine sprouting up between two hollies.  I thought to myself, “I need to pull that up.” I repeated that thought for over 60 days, but would promptly forget about it once I put my coffee cup down and began the day’s activities. The vine steadily grew and began to intertwine itself within the holly. One morning, I reached down to pull it up but the root was very strong, and all I was able to accomplish was to break the top six inches of the vine and strip several leaves off a branch. It also had developed small slivers of thorns. My effort to pull it up by myself convinced me I would need a small spade, garden shears, and gloves. And so, I didn’t put anymore effort into removing the vine.

I got use to seeing the vine in the yaupon. It began to blend in quite well with the shrub. It wrapped itself around the main stem and its tendrils began to reach out for branches and leaves. It became completely embedded to the yaupon. The yaupon is still there but all I see now is the vine – the price a lazy gardener pays for not pulling the weeds and vines while they were small.

The writer of Hebrews warns us in Hebrews 12:1 that sin “easily entangles” itself in our lives – it attaches itself to our heart, our thoughts, our actions. Usually our first interaction with sin is easily recognizable. We realize and admit that we must remove the sin. But life gets in the way and we never “get around” to addressing our sin. Other times, we feel that it really isn’t that big of a deal –  it’s not like we are thieves or murderers.  And so the sin entangles a little more into our lives, wrapping members of our body and holds our every thought captive.  Before we know it, sin (just a little sin, you say) has overtaken our lives and we have become use to it; not really noticing it anymore.

It takes work – some sins are easily “pulled up.” Others require additional equipment and effort (fervent prayer; Bible study; fasting; a willing heart and confession). This week, let us focus on sin in our lives that might be hindering us from running with perseverance.

 Ephesians 4:30:  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
As you pray, thank God for the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin.  Ask Him to reveal to you the sin that has entangled your life.

 Psalm 36:2:  “For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”
As you pray, ask God to open the eyes of your heart to recognize that your unconfessed sin is a form of self-flattery.

 Psalm 38:18, David wrote:  “I confess my iniquity.  I am troubled by my sin.”
As sin is exposed and we agree with God, ask God for the perseverance needed for Him to completely remove the sin from your life.

 Psalm 66:18-19:  “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”
Praise God for changing your heart by revealing your sin.  Thank Him for hearing your prayer.

 Psalm 119:97:  “Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long.”
Ask God to strengthen your resolve to study His Word thereby enabling you to easily recognize sin in your life.

 John 1:29:  “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
How glorious it is that God uses us, sinners, as spiritual investors in the lives of children.  We must remain diligent in eradicating any personal sins that hinder our usefulness in God’s Hands.  We have the privilege of introducing children to the Lamb of God who takes away their sin.  Ask God to keep you close to Him in the coming year – convicting you, loving you, and molding you into the image of His Son.


Jan Jones recently retired after 28 years of ministry. She has served in countless roles including Minister to Children, Minister to Adults, and Minister of Christian Education. Her impact on children, families, women, adults, and other ministers is quite broad and continues as she now serves weekly as a faithful 3rd grade Sunday School Investors. You can see a glimpse of  her gift of leadership on another blog post found on this site here.

for the past two years i have had the wonderful privilege of serving with the most incredible leader and friend. as she plans to retire, after 28+ years in ministry, i thought i would share just 10 of the leadership lessons she has taught me.  (there are countless more.) when i think back to how greatly impacted i was in such a short time, i am convinced it was because i saw these lessons consistently and humbly lived out in the best, worst, mundane, and craziest ministry moments.

  • sabbath – i received one of the greatest gifts i have ever been given in ministry through her leadership – the gift of sabbath. i blogged more about it here. because she so understands the need for spiritual leaders to be in close relationship and communication with our Savior, Jesus Christ, she challenged us to make sure we made it a priority.
    – lesson to unpack: i am never too busy, too important, too spiritual or too prepared to stop it all and just sit at my Savior’s feet. i must intentionally schedule sabbath as one of the most important parts of my ministry calendar.
  • Jesus talk > church talk – i simply can’t talk “church” for hours, but sometimes we ministry leaders can get caught up in the church “nuts and bolts” and save few words for the Cornerstone Himself – Jesus. jan modeled the opposite. of the many conversations we had, i remember Jesus being central over the “hows” and “whats” of church work. so convicting, so refreshing.
    – lesson to unpack: what i know about church work isn’t near as important as what i know about Jesus. do people leave my conversations hearing only about the details of ministry or the reason for ministry Himself?
  • truth in love – jan never just told me what i wanted to hear. her words were direct, truthful, fair, and anchored in love, even though i didn’t like everything i heard. her honest conversations stretched me and made me more effective.
    – lesson to unpack: i tend to go on and on and am afraid of hurting someone’s feelings and then it becomes a big mess – just like this sentence.  direct and honest conversation can be a great gift to someone.  i can so learn from that.
  • redeeming difficulties – i saw it first hand at a lunch one day. several of us were sharing frustration after frustration with a certain issue we were faced with that week.  one by one, with each grumble we laid on the table, i watched her pick up our negative words and point us to positive solutions. “what can you learn from this?” she would ask. or, “how can you use this to better educate in the future?” even though i totally saw what she was doing, i still allowed myself to become carnal and complaint-centered. she never wavered. she provided a safe place to vent, but would not allow us to remain there.  there was better ahead and she was constantly pushing us to see it.
    – lesson to unpack – am i looking for ways to learn and redeem bad experiences or do i become content to wallow in wasteful conversation?
  • work smart – “work smarter not harder.”  that’s how she challenged me to attack the load of ministry in front of me. what freedom it gave me to plan, prioritize, and focus on eternal things.  she gave me a fresh perspective of seeing that it wasn’t the hours behind a desk, but the fruit of my ministry that showed its growth and worth.
    – lesson to unpack – am i more concerned about the quantity of hours or intentionally seeking quality, eternally-focus ministry opportunities? 
  • selfless service – i was so blown away that in the same conversation where she shared her retirement news, she also volunteered to be a sunday school investor in the new church year.  after so many years of full-time ministry everyone would understand the need for a break and a chance to sit and receive.
    – lesson to unpack: is the root of what i do an act of love and service for my Savior or do i allow it to become a job?  if i am serving from the true Source it is a lifestyle and becomes second nature.
  • learning never stops – i knew this lesson in my head. i’ve heard it in many leadership workshops and i am sure i underlined it in some leadership book. still i was shocked when she was excited to attend creative teacher training the preschool minister and i were leading. i said “really, what can i teach you?”  her response, “i know the old way, i want to learn the current, most effective way to lead the kids in my sunday school class this fall.”
    – lesson to unpack: never believe the lie that i have arrived. i will never know it all. i need to constantly be looking for chances to challenge myself to grow, even from younger leaders.
  • it’s not personal – the pleaser in me (even after many years in ministry) would still often personalize the challenges that come with ministry.  she told me many times, “stop personalizing this.”  she taught (and i am still desperately trying to catch) me to step back and try to look at the matter with personal feelings aside.
    – lesson to unpack: as she would say “get over it” it is not all about me.  i need to learn to quit looking at each challenge through my personal lens.  there is always a bigger picture.
  • joy in serving – i would be lying if i said i wasn’t a bit weary in my transition to this new staff position.  what an encouragement to be led by someone with almost twice the years in the trenches, but also twice the joy.  no matter how tough things got, she addressed them with a smile and true joy in the work God had given her.  that authentic example still inspires me to realize what a gift it is to serve in full-time ministry.
    – lesson to unpack: don’t let the situations i am facing dictate the joy in which i work through them.  my service is not a sacrifice, it is an honor to give my all for the One who sacrificed so much for me. so, suit up in the armor and serve with joy.
  • wrapped in prayer – i can’t recall ever leaving a hard conversation or meeting with her without her asking to pray with/over me. she humbly acknowledged Who was really in control and consistently petitioned His wisdom, comfort, direction, discernment, and peace.
    – lesson to unpack: prayer can be the most important part of any conversation/meeting. make time for it.
i would not trade anything for the past two years under jan jones’ leadership.  she has a rich legacy of modeling Christ-centered leadership and pointing people to what matters most – Jesus.  i know because that’s what she did (and still does) for me.

such a great group of gals i have the joy of serving alongside at dawson.

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