Life in ministry is hard y’all….
This is no secret. Most people know it. If you have lived it then you totally get it and understand exactly what I mean. I’m not even being exclusive to full time pastors right now. We have done both- ministry while working full time jobs as well as being a full time pastor. Over the past 18 years that we have spent in ministry, we have learned many, many (many, many, many….) lessons. We have transitioned from youth leaders to full time youth pastor to associate pastor leading both youth and kids. Through all of this, there are many rewards and victories and moments of celebration. There are also moments filled with doubt, fear, uncertainty and loneliness. Life in ministry is hard.
Our family is in an extremely busy season of life and ministry. We are keeping up and making it all work, but there are certainly days when we have multiple things going on. We have to communicate a lot and stay organized to keep up with our calendar. We also make a point to try and schedule downtime for us all to unwind/rest/relax a little. I think back to October 2014, when Otis and I were on a flight to NYC to attend the Hillsong Conference. Otis was sleeping in the seat next to me. I was settling in to read a book, when the Lord clearly spoke to me. Something that He specifically told me was that I could not do the ministry that He had for us with my current work schedule. (You can read all about that here)
If you know me on a personal level, you know that unfortunately I tend to take things very personally. When people make random comments that they may feel as harmless…. it’s like opening a window to my heart and allowing doubt flood in. I know that isn’t a great habit to let happen, but if I’m being honest… that’s the truth. I’m working on it and have grown, but it does still happen.
Anytime that you are in ministry, there are a million opinions on EVERYTHING. We can find dozens of things to disagree on or choose to not like. These things can be used to divide and destroy us. As ministries grow, more and more families become involved and that equals more and more opinions.
As people who work in youth and kids ministry, there is a certain level of pressure to cater to each families needs. Parents are not shy about telling you what they think you are doing wrong and what their kids want. Some want constant fun and games… others want more teaching… others want events and activities. It can be difficult to manage everything and you can truly wear yourself out trying to do just that. It’s so easy, and almost natural, to become overwhelmed and stressed out about keeping everyone happy.
Y’all- it’s impossible.
We have learned that we just have to step back and take a breath. It’s important to remember the point of it all. Our goal and job is to point others to Jesus. It is that simple. We can plan all of the events and stay busy for the rest of our lives and not fulfill our calling at the same time. We are not full time child care. It is not our job to entertain. It is our job to teach about Jesus and help students grow in their faith.
Stay focused on that truth and the Lord will handle the rest. Don’t get me wrong, activities and fun events and outreaches can all be used to nurture growth…. but it can also be empty calendar fillers.
To all of the exhausted workers out there, don’t lose faith. The work you are doing is important and is making a difference. Don’t cave to the pressure to people- please. Be faithful to Jesus and trust that He has it all under control.