The 2017-2018 ministry year has been one of my hardest. It’s odd to feel that way because it was such a great year.
- I have an amazing staff that I get to work with every day.
- I have a pastor and leadership team that believes in me and empowers me.
- We saw amazing success in so many different areas of our church.
But I’m tired. Bone tired? Ever feel that way?
- This year I’ve had to juggle more responsibilities than normal.
- This year’s school load for the kids has been really heavy.
- This year, it seemed like someone was sick every week.
- This year, our family encountered some significant challenges (still walking through those)
This year’s challenges were mostly connected to a shortage of resources (that sounds familiar, right?) and hard life/family stuff. There were years when resources weren’t an issue and family stuff was good, but there were some vision/leadership challenges that made things difficult. There were years when I didn’t know if I was in the right place and God was quiet on where I was supposed to be.
After 21 years of ministry, I’ve sensed a theme.
Ministry is hard. Every year is different. Every year sees new challenges. Regardless, one thing is certain—it’s not going to be easy. If you’re new to ministry, let me tell you a few things:
- You will question if God actually called you to ministry and if you heard him right.
- People will disappoint you.
- People will be terrible to you or your family on occasions.
- Your family will resent your ministry role at times.
- You will feel alone.
- Programs and ministries that took years to build will disappear overnight.
- You will feel overwhelmed.
- You will feel abandoned.
- You will feel spent.
- Any questions?
Over the years, I’ve met plenty of broken servants. I’ve heard terrible stories that would cause anyone to question their calling.
But what did you expect?
It was never supposed to be easy.
The calling to serve Jesus comes at a price. Jesus’ followers changed the world, but it cost them everything. Those who served the church throughout history have known many challenges. Poverty, persecution and loss seem to be the most common experiences. When Jesus questioned his disciples’ willingness to “drink from his cup,” the challenges of the road ahead is what he was referencing.
The 21st-century American minister is soft. Poverty, what is that? Persecution, where? Loss, we have more than ever. A role in ministry can actually be fairly lucrative. But we’re surprised when ministry is hard because everything looks like it should be so easy.
Hebrews 12:1-3 Don’t grow weary, though. Jesus has called you to complete the work he began. There’s no greater joy than being exactly where God has placed you. Be encouraged when life and ministry are hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Your responsibility is to be faithful. Hang in there friend, it’s worth it. 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This article originally appeared here.