It’s always something.
If you’re in ministry, you understand what I’m saying. If it isn’t this, it’s that. If it isn’t that, it’s that other thing.
Those in ministry must learn to live with a low-grade fever of drama going on at any given time. Things are never quite perfect. If they are, they won’t be for long. Embracing this reality and realizing ministry is messy will do us far more good than feeling jipped or cursing the constant imbalance of the emotional teeter-totter of ministry.
Ministry involves people and circumstances that are broken and beyond our control. This doesn’t mean we are totally helpless. We can certainly create our own messes. However, there are times where our best efforts will not create a ministry utopia. In fact, that’s pretty much all of the time.
- If the church is all happy and getting along, your leadership team isn’t — or vice-versa.
- If several new families come into the church, others are discontented or thinking about leaving.
- You make a great hire, only to have a staff person leave for another calling.
- The church is finally on budget, but an unforeseen facilities expense puts you right back in the red.
- Life in ministry is good, but life at home is shaky.
Don’t get me wrong: There are stretches where everything is humming along nicely. But, that’s not the norm. Much of the time, some things are going great while other things are problems. We planned for yesterday’s grand reopening for months. In the end, the air-conditioning went out on 95-degree day. So, we all grilled in our seats, even as we had record attendance and celebrated a huge milestone for our young church. It was still a fantastic day and God was praised. But…
If it isn’t this, it’s that.
If it isn’t a facility matter, it’s a people matter or a personal matter.
Ministry is messy, not neat. I used to let things like blown-out A/C at key moments bother me a ton. Not anymore. I’ve come to expect something weird to happen. I expect Satan to try an attack when things are good. When it happens, just remember God is still in the mess.
Be not discouraged.
Praise God anyways.
Do the best you can, and let the rest go — emotionally. It’s often out of our control.
People for whom things must always be perfect will struggle in ministry —or, at least, they won’t enjoy it much. They will either feel an unhealthy insufficiency to the task of ministry, or think everyone else is the problem. It’s usually neither. Sometimes, it’s no one’s fault; it just is.
What makes ministry so beautiful is we never get so competent or in control that we don’t need Jesus. Things are never so perfect heaven would be a threat to our standard of living.
Perhaps that’s the point. If we didn’t need Jesus, it wouldn’t be ministry.
This morning, remember why we’re doing what we’re doing: The glory of Christ’s Name and life-change. He is EVERYTHING. Think about Him as you deal with this and that. He is why you’re doing this — and He’s going to build His Church whether the A/C goes out or not. Stay focused on him. It’ll help, I promise.
Staying focused on the right things will also keep you from being a reactive, depressed or bitter leader. It will keep you committed to excellence, perseverance and humility, because Jesus was all of that and then some.
Tim Spivey is lead planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, CA. Tim is also an adjunct professor of religion at Pepperdine University and purveyor of New Vintage Leadership, a blog offering cutting-edge insights on leadership and theology. He is the author of numerous articles and the book Jesus, the Powerful Servant.