“Remember the anticipation and reckless abandon when you first stepped up to serve in the church?”
To Anyone Who Serves
Remember the anticipation and reckless abandon when you first stepped up to serve in the church? Whether it was a volunteer or full-time role, the feeling can be exhilarating. There is an unmistakable joy finding your specific role in the Body of Christ.
Fast forward a few years… if you are not careful, that joy can be drained and battered. Busyness erodes the joy. Criticism begins to stick. The spiritual battles leave their scars. Maintaining that first joy and exhilaration doesn’t just happen automatically.
How do you maintain endurance in ministry? …And not just endurance, but long-term joyful passion?
Here are 6 things to consider when you feel like throwing in the towel.
1. Prime Target
There is an obvious answer; but it’s easy to brush aside. You are surrounded by spiritual war; and you are a prime target for the enemy. That’s the genius of the enemy’s attacks against you. Our tendency is to focus on the people, battles, problems, and fatigue. Deep down we know that the battles are not against flesh and blood, but we fail to recognize the unseen enemy behind the day to day schemes… the very same schemes that have been eroding the joy you once felt in serving. What do you do about it? Yes, study up on spiritual armor (like faith and truth), and spiritual weapons (like Scripture and prayer). But simply reminding yourself often of the reality of spiritual warfare can keep you focused on the battle for the Kingdom rather than the personal attacks.
2. Stamp of Approval
People will compliment you; and people will complain about you. People will follow your leadership; and people will work against your best efforts. These are certainties of spiritual leadership. It feels great to be supported; and it feels horrible to pull the knife out of your back. Don’t put much stock in either. At the end of the day, none of these things matter. Remember… “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10
3. Accumulating Rocks
Ministry is all about relationships. So it should be no surprise that relationships have great power to strengthen and encourage; and relationships have a devastating ability to undermine and dishearten. Friction will come from those you serve; and also from those you are serving beside. Letting friction turn into unresolved conflict can undermine your ability to cultivate relationships. Holding on to past disputes in ministry is like accumulating rocks in your pocket while trying to rescue other people from drowning. Don’t avoid conflicts; deal with them in a timely way that honors God in the process.
4. Are you sure?
Being called by God to lead others doesn’t mean God loves you more than your spiritual brothers and sisters. It also doesn’t mean that you have climbed a spiritual ladder further than others. God has plans for all of His children and specifically uses us in the way He chooses – some in leadership positions, and some in other roles. If God has called you to a leadership position, then “take a new grip with your tired hands*” – especially when you are feeling discouraged. But don’t confuse a noble desire with a clear directive from God. Yes, I am trying to get you to question your calling. If it can withstand some honest evaluation, then keep moving forward. But if you find that you have been operating on anything other than a clear calling, then graciously step aside. And don’t be discouraged… be excited! Go find the specific thing that God has designed you for, and pursue it with renewed joy and excitement!
5. Intentionally Refocus
Don’t let the battles, criticism, busyness, or anything else blur your focus. There is a short Psalm that speaks volumes about turning your mind around when you are discouraged. Read it below. Notice the writer’s attitude at the beginning – but then notice the sharp turn at the end. It’s as though he forces himself to intentionally refocus. Check it out… Psalm 13:1–6 1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? 3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. 4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. 6 I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. (NLT)
6. You didn’t sign up for the easy road
If you serve in a church in any way, big or small, paid or volunteer, don’t lose heart. Jesus talked about two roads.** If you have surrendered to Jesus, then you didn’t sign up for the easy road. Don’t lose heart.
What would you add to this list?
-By Eddie Zdanio
11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. 12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. (NLT)
13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. (NLT)