Having spent 13+ years in ministry, I’ve experienced many of my personal highest highs and lowest lows there. Sadly, over the last two plus years visiting churches across the US, I’ve found that many Technical Leaders are in a season of low points. Many are tired, beat up, and have families who are tired of sacrificing for the sake of ministry. Most are deeply committed to loving and serving God, but are doing so from a less than joyous place.
Let’s be honest, ministry is a tough gig. So why do we do it? The great pay? Hardly. The cushy job hours? Um… Could it be for the praise and accolades?
It can often be a grueling job where we have to make a lot of sacrifices, especially when it comes to our family. Honestly I’ve had my share of struggle. And based on the conversations I have with many of you, you have too. So why do we put in the countless hours, fight the interpersonal battles, and sacrifice so much?
It would be really easy to tell you that it’s worth it because God has called you to it. I could recite a Scripture that tells you that the last shall be first in the Kingdom of Heaven and by being a servant of Jesus and sacrificing so much you will have greater treasures in Heaven. These things are true, but I’m going to be brutally honest here and admit that sometimes that just isn’t enough for me. I’m not saying I want to be disobedient to what God has called me too, nor am I saying that my love for God wavers at this point. But I do find too often I love God and serve His church in spite of how I feel.
This last week I got to travel back to Cedar Rapids, IA, which always spurs reflection in me since I lived there for 14 years – including most of my ministry life spanning youth, radio, and technical ministry. I could tell you many stories about my tougher days ranging from interpersonal battles (some caused by my own immaturity), unrealistic expectations, ethical issues with others, and more. I won’t hash any of these out specifically here, but suffice it to say I have battle stories, as do you. I’d love to say that I’ve always been passionate about doing ministry, but I’d be lying. I admit there have been many days (and nights laying in bed) where I’ve wished to get out of ministry.
But the bright side of ministry will blow out even the darkest of days. The tough times really become so small when I remember the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve helped impact. I’ve truly had some incredible highs in ministry, and when I keep those things in front of me the negative aspects of ministry fade away.
What’s interesting is that my brightest times in ministry have less to do with my ministry and are more about my serving faithfully. Frankly, I think God likes it that way. I vividly remember when I carved out a few hours (that I didn’t have) to help a woman record a song for her father’s funeral, then watching her family weep and accept Jesus at the close of the service the next day. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard stories where someone gave their life to Jesus because they came to a service, saw we did church differently, and opened their ears to what we had to share. I’ll never forget about the handful of volunteers over the years that didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, but got involved because their family did. After serving alongside a team for a season, we celebrated with them the day they found their own faith in Jesus. Other former volunteers have grown into ministry opportunities of their own and are doing some incredible things for God.
People are what really matter in ministry, and if you keep your focus on people, they will always provide your brightest moments.
Directly and indirectly, what you do matters. It won’t always be easy, and it certainly won’t always be fun. But focus on serving God and people well and it will always be worth it. As one church tech leader put so well after Easter services were complete, “Seeing the hands go up at the end of service for people accepting Christ or coming back to Him makes all of the stress melt away.”
Capture and preserve those moments. Write down your successes and and get in the habit of sharing the bright spots with those you serve with. After all, we all have dark days and could use a reminder of the brighter side of ministry.