A couple of weeks ago the Christian Standard magazine had what was (to me) a helpful article entitled, “Enduring a Painful Ministry.” It was written by Brian Giese, a retired minister after 45 years of active ministry.
“More than fifty percent of church leaders who spend most of their adult lives in ministry will have at least one painful “season” in serving God’s people. So, for most of us, the question is not, “Will I get hit?” but, “Will I bounce back?”
He makes makes many helpful suggestions like Maintain an Upbeat Attitude, Get Some Support (I, of course, would suggest coaching!), Continue to Serve, and Encourage Others.
But the one section that I thought was most helpful to me was his suggestion to Analyze the Cause. He says:
- The needs of the ministry and your gifts do not match up well.
- The goals and/or personalities of other leaders clash with yours, and these conflicts cannot be resolved.
- You and/or your family’s personal needs are not being met, and your resources are running dry (emotionally, financially, etc.).
- Due to a moral lapse and/or severe marriage or family problems, you lose your credibility.
- Health problems (physical or mental) prevent you from fulfilling ministry demands.
- You and/or the congregation have unrealistic expectations.
- Because of poor judgment or other leadership mistakes, you alienate too many people to be effective.
- You experience burnout (this is listed last but it certainly is not least). Many scenarios in ministry can lead to emotional/spiritual depletion.
When facing adversity, we should look first for some opportunity in the problem. If that isn’t possible, we can at least try to learn from the experience.
I won’t really editorialize on the article, other than to say that it struck close to home and I would suggest all ministers, young AND experienced listen to Bro. Giese’s words.
He ends the article with the words of Wayne Smith, the long-time minister of the Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY in a message entitled “Playing Hurt”:
Wayne Smith shared some sports anecdotes about famous athletes who played while hurt. Then Wayne spoke about some of God’s servants in the Bible who labored for the Lord in spite of apathy and rejection. Wayne concluded by saying, “Ministry is not for sissies. If you don’t learn to play hurt in the church, you won’t play at all.”
Again, you can find the article here.