It’s Monday morning.
For a pastor, that’s a low time of the week—generally speaking. The typical demons of doubt and second-guessing attempt to do their work— “Did anything I said yesterday make sense?” “Did anything in the message actually help people?” “Were they thinking of the truth or the time?”
The accuser tries to get into our heads— “No—they were bored out of their minds and couldn’t wait for you to sit down!” “No—you can’t do this, you aren’t effective, and you should stop trying to be effective.”
Any more, I see a lot of articles about pastors resigning. Then I see a lot of articles about how hard ministry is, how burdened ministers are, etc., etc.
There’s certainly enough negativity and discouragement to go around. I recently asked a pastor “How are you doing?” His response was simply, “Well, I haven’t quit yet!”
I thought, “What a sad outlook and down-hearted attitude.” I prayed, “Lord, don’t ever let me have that spirit of despair. I want to keep loving ministry and keep enjoying helping people meet you!”
In the midst of all the despair, God is good. He has a way of countering the negativity.
A late night text said, “The message today really helped me.” Then I opened a card this morning, and one voice shares quotes or principles from two or three different recent messages and how the word of God helped her. Then a short email from a friend who said, “I’m really being blessed by this current series.” Then I found two decision cards of people I was unaware were saved yesterday.
One positive response to God’s word reminds me that ministry is always worth it, and hard times are worth plowing through.
Why are the unique spiritual burdens and spiritual warfare of ministry worth it? Why do I want to run this race with patience? Why do I want to finish this course with joy?
Here are seven reasons…
1. The Gospel is the greatest cause in the world—My life was changed by Jesus Christ, and this week, someone else’s will be as well! For that one, I plan to keep preaching, teaching, loving, and pressing forward.
2. God’s people are the greatest people in the world—As busy as they are, as beat up as the world leaves them, as pressed as their lives are—they love Jesus, they love His church, they love His word, and they are faithful! What a privilege to love and to be loved in local church ministry! EBC family is just wonderful. While Mondays are hard, it’s generally because Sunday wasn’t! I just want to say, “I really love my church family!”
3. Every vocation brings its own burdens and battles—Sure, ministry has its unique challenges and pressures, but so does every other career. Heaven will be awesome, but until then, we groan—no matter what we do vocationally. My unique version of “groaning” also brings with it truck loads of blessings and victories. Most of them I won’t see until Heaven, but they are real none-the-less.
4. One changed life outweighs a huge number of burdens—Encouragement is strangely powerful. One text message. One voice-mail. One email. One life changed is enough motivation to press on. To know that one heart was effected, one decision was impacted, one life was brought to Jesus—that’s enough to make it all worth it. One positive outcome is very powerful to silence the accuser.
5. God’s word is eternally true and always effectual—God promised that His word would not return void. Someone recently said to me, “I love our current Sunday night series.” What they didn’t know was that I was thinking, “Everybody hates this series! I think I’m going to cut it short.” How short sighted I was. God’s word is having impact in lives that I may never meet on earth. His word is seed that will always bring a harvest. My job is not to measure the harvest or fruit, but to faithfully and continually and abundantly keep planting seed.
6. Hard times are tunnels not walls—No matter how Monday morning feels, or no matter what season of fatigue or hardship you are going through right now—it will have an end. Storms pass. Night turns to day. Don’t let hard times blind you to the blessings that God is abounding around you.
7. Ministry fruit is measured in decades not days—After 27 years of ministry, I still struggle to “see” or “measure” fruit. We live in a world that is driven by “visible results.” We are conditioned to want visible, measurable, quantifiable evidence of our value and our effectiveness. In reality, the most valuable outcomes of our ministry labor will not be truly seen until we are in eternity. The great challenge is to rest in His reward, knowing that He is empowering and using us to make a difference that we cannot always see or touch.
Yes, pastors often walk through the lowest moments of people’s lives over and over again. Yes, there are immature or even pathological people that are mean-spirited, hurtful, and unjustly critical. Yes, there are a few who try to play politics or get power-trippy. Yes, there are those who smile to your face and stab you in the back. Yes, sometimes mean things are said about your family, your messages, your decisions. But those are the fewest, and unfortunately, at times they are the loudest.
Being faithful in ministry is still worth it! Pressing through the battles and spiritual warfare is still worth it!
You might be one day away from one more life being changed by your faithfulness.
You attitude is everything! Keep looking up, eyes on Jesus, pressing forward in faith. Keep serving in joy, giving grace, extending mercy, and doing what little you can to impact others for the kingdom.
For by faith we know that our labor is not in vain.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)