Ministry is tough stuff, isn’t it? Some days things are great and other days it’s just enough to put one foot in front of the other. I guess that’s true of life in general but there is a uniqueness that’s associated with ministry.
Some of us may be in the middle of a difficult week. discouraging month or depressing year and feel like we have given up more ground than we have taken. Negative emails, face to face disagreements or general attitudes of discontent from others. Maybe some folks haven’t complained at all, they just left, disappeared, gone! They left your church or ministry and you take that personally and internalize it.
Heck, I go into minor depression when someone unsubscribes from my blog! Here are the quips that fly around my mind, “What did I do wrong? Did I not meet their needs? Where are they going? Why wasn’t I good enough? Am I ok? I guess I really don’t have much to say! I don’t have anything to say! I shouldn’t be writing at all!”
Do you see the progression? Do you feel the progression? I start by questioning myself then arriving at conclusions that are untrue and unhealthy. I had to do a little internal inventory this past week to remind myself that the tough times in life are father filtered and not only allowed but often appointed to our life. The discouraging moments are here to equip and later empower us to make a difference in some capacity. Here are three reminders from my inventory on the tough side of ministry.
1. Don’t Give Up
I’m sure each of us have crashed through so many quitting points, we feel like we should have insurance for it but the gentle reminder is to remain tenacious and not give up. Revel in the difficulty knowing that God’s power shows up best in weak people. You are being transformed into something new, something better. My experience is God has a tendency to allow something to happen to you and then He will use it to work through you. Romans 5:3 NLT Says it this way, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure.”
2. Get Better Not Bitter
I have often thought about what it would look like if we could all get together and share our lowest and most difficult ministry moments. My sense is we would all somehow feel better knowing that each of us have experienced or are experiencing some type of difficulty in ministry and as a result of that sharing, we find ourselves in a better place, not a bitter one, because of it.
3. Move From A Narrow View to an Overview
See the big picture! When we are stuck in the middle of something difficult or discouraging is helps to rise above it, both literally and physically! If I was to take a helicopter view while hovering over my first seven years of ministry here is how I would see it.
The First Year Before Ministry
Top of the World (Hey, Why not ministry?)
First Year of Ministry
Terrible Misunderstanding (Hey, Why am I here?)
Second Year of Ministry
Tears of Loneliness (Hey, Why doesn’t everyone like me?)
Third Year of Ministry
Temptation to Quit (Hey, Why did I leave my other job?)
Fourth Year of Ministry
Testing your Resolve (Hey, Why does everyone question me?)
Fifth Year of Ministry
Trust Building (Hey, Why are people following me?)
Sixth Year of Ministry
Telling Stories (Hey, Why are those things that happened 5 years ago so funny now?)
Seventh Year of Ministry
Training Others in the Culture (Hey, Why did I ask “why” for so many years?)
What year are you experiencing? Do you resonate with this list? Which one in particular?
1. Are you in the middle of something discouraging or difficult right now?
2. What reminder is most helpful for you today?
Photo Credit: istockphoto.com File #2928402 designer Gannet77