I remember hearing, “Ministry is hard” any time a pastor spoke about ministry. It always felt like a description that incited courage and perseverance. “Ministry is hard?” The audience should wonder. “Then, of course, I will do it with much vigor and bravery! Ministry won’t pull me down!” At least, that’s what I would be thinking as the pastor talked about the long nights, hardships, and exhaustion he faced in his calling. A few years ago, I started working at my old church, thinking I had landed the “Dream Job”, so life was set before I had even graduated from college. I entered that job with as much gusto as I felt when the pastors told me how hard ministry could be. Ministry is supposed to tranform lives – how hard could it be?
When I wrote “The Character of Ministry” Bible study, I was going through a lot at my job. There were so many Sundays that as soon as I arrived to church, I quickly found the nearest janitorial closet or storage room that no one was using to cry my eyes out, endure a panic attack, and/or call my parents to tell them I wanted to come home. “Felicity!” They would say over the phone. “You just got there! You need to get to work!” I would cry, “But Mom/Dad, I don’t want to be here!” In the introduction of the Character of Ministry Bible study, I talked about how ironic it was that as I wrote the study on topics like faithfuless and serving others, I was struggling in my own ministry. It truly was ironic, and I would not be surprised if a lot of it was spiritual warfare.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your ministry, you may need to start practicing rest. God commanded His people to observe the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) with good reason. Engaging in rest and meditation on God’s Word allows us to recharge and refocus on our ministries. When we lose restfulness, we begin to lash out at others, become easily irritated, and lose focus of why we’re doing ministry in the first place.
I remember that towards the end of my time in my job, I started resenting the people I was discipling. I felt like they were heavy anchors keeping me in a toxic environment that I didn’t want to be in anymore. Although I was right that the environment was bad, I began to take that out on my mentorees. I needed to be spending more time in God’s Word during my frustration, not less. We need to be resting, not restless!
Take these verses to heart today…
- “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” Psalm 37:7a
- “One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6
- “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
- “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11