Many are thriving in ministry but failing at life because real life is found while following Jesus. Sometimes, ministry gets in our way as we try to follow Jesus. Jesus spoke about people who healed multitudes, cast out demons, but failed eternally because they didn’t know him.
Ministry is dangerous. We pretend that our faithfulness in ministry substitutes as faithfulness to Jesus. People hide in the busyness of ministry when they don’t want to get real with God. Ministry wears out good people with the right intentions but the wrong priorities. The ministry machine grinds people up and spits them out.
We all know the stories of ministry’s casualties. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve seen people come from having no faith in Jesus to leading others in the faith, and I’ve seen people fall from leadership positions to very dark places. The pastors who lead our marriage counseling divorced a few years ago. One of my mentors, doesn’t do church anymore. Two of my friends who were successful missionaries to a foreign country, left the mission field because their marriage was falling apart and their nerves were shot.
How can ministry leave us empty when following Jesus is supposed to be life-giving?
Ministry drains us when we place a higher priority on what we do than on what Jesus said. He said his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He said his truth would set us free. He told us we could find rest in him. He promised to end our hunger and quench our thirst, forever.
Seven keys to keeping your soul while in ministry.
1) Remember God loves you. Our relationship with him begins and ends on this truth.
2) Don’t forget God forgives you. You will make mistakes, but he’s willing wash you clean.
3) Remind yourself God builds his church. He is the builder. It’s our privilege to help, but it’s his burden not ours.
4) Pray from your heart. Monotonous prayers grow stale. Pray because he listens—not out of routine.
5) Take time to rest. He gave the Hebrews the Sabbath. He reminded his disciples to rest, and it’s okay for us to take a break.
6) Learn more than you teach. You don’t know it all. God speaks in numerous ways. In scripture, he taught lessons with prophets, priests, scribes, donkeys, birds, flowers, and children.
7) Do the things only you can do. You are your wife’s only husband, and you’re your children’s only father. No one else can do those jobs.
This weekend, take a step back and think about your approach to ministry. You need a good balance in your life to be happy.
Are you thriving or surviving?