Ministry is overwhelming! It seems as if the demands of ministry are endless. There are sermons to prepare, Bible studies to lead, meetings to facilitate, people to visit, mission trips to plan, counseling sessions to lead, denominational meetings to attend, and articles to write. Ministry is time consuming!
However, having your time consumed by a local church is not necessarily a bad thing. The church is involved in the most important work on the face of the planet. The mission of God is worth your investment of time. Your investment of time into the ministry of the local church should energize you! However, often people aren’t energized by the work of ministry. Rather, people often experience burnout as a result of investing themselves in the work of the ministry. You probably know a pastor or even a church member who has experienced ministry burnout. You might be at a point where you’ve had enough. You are tired. You are on the verge of burnout. Here’s the question: How do you avoid ministry burnout? How do you avoid getting to a place where you want to walk away from serving the Lord through His church? Let me give you some suggestions to help you stay energized in the calling that God has placed on your life.
Think God’s glory, not you glory.
God’s glory is the biggest motivator to keep you passionate about serving the Lord even when you get tired. Whenever you are tempted to throw in the towel remember that God is worthy of your service. He is worthy of you giving your time, talents, and treasures for His Kingdom purpose. Sometimes we’re tempted to quit serving the church because we’re not getting the recognition we think we deserve. No one is patting us on the back, or no one notices all of the hours we have put in. As a result, we get discouraged. Remember that ministry is not about you! Rather, it’s about seeing Christ lifted up and people drawn to Him. As you serve, keep in mind who you are ultimately ministering to – Christ Himself!
Think giftedness, not obligation.
Serving the Lord through the local church should be the most energizing experience you will ever have. Perhaps the reason why many of us get burned out with ministry is because we are not operating out of our spiritual giftedness. Rather, we are operating out of obligation. We fulfill tasks in the church out of guilt and obligation because no one else will volunteer to take those tasks on. While I appreciate the willingness of faithful people to do the tasks no one wants to do, think how great the local church church would be if people served out of their giftedness and not out of a sense of obligation or guilt. I think about my own spiritual gifting. God has gifted me to preach and teach, and while it can be tiring to prepare week after week and preach sermon after sermon, it never grows old. Preaching can be physically exhausting, but at the same time it energizes me as I know I am doing what God has called me to do within His local church. How can you train up others around you to share the load of ministry with you so that you can focus on using your spiritual giftedness to the best of your ability?
Think people, not tasks.
Ministry is about people, not tasks. I believe that God is far more interested in the people you influence than He is the things you knock off of your to-do list. However, the reality is that within the church there are a lot of tasks that need to be done. For example, upkeep to the building that has to be seen to. Sermons have to be prepared. Events have to be organized. While those tasks need to be done, we can’t forget that the reason why we do the tasks is to ultimately influence people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, when you are doing a task, keep in mind that you aren’t doing a task for a task’s sake. You are doing that task so that ultimately people might have an opportunity to experience Christ. So, as you are performing a task, pray for the people who will benefit from the work that you are doing. Or, better yet, find a way to get others involved in ministry tasks alongside of you. Some of the best Christ-centered conversations can happen while we are serving together and completing tasks together. Tasks are necessary, but let’s strive to keep our focus on people even when we are knocking things off of our ministry to-do list.
Think humbly, not comparatively.
Maybe one of the most discouraging things in a local church is when you are giving your all but the people around you are not. Maybe you’ve heard a pastor say before that in a local church 20% of the people do 90% of the work, while 80% do 10% of the work. Unfortunately, in many churches that is the case. When you are serving your heart out and see others refusing to serve alongside of you, it can cause you to become bitter and resentful towards other people in your congregation. If you’re not careful, you can also become really prideful. You can look at another brother or sister in Christ and say, “I am so much further along in my walk with the Lord than he is because I do so much more for the Lord than he does.” That kind of comparing is sinful. Remember this: you will stand before God and give an account for your service to Him. You will not give an account for that person who always comes and sits but never joins in the ministry. So, focus on fulfilling your calling instead of focusing on others who may not be fulfilling their calling. You can’t control what other people do not do. However, you can control what you do, and you can control how you respond to people who aren’t doing what you think they should do. Instead of casting judgment, pray and encourage, and ultimately, leave it to God.
I hope that you are thankful for the calling that God has placed on your life, and I pray that your service to the Lord will energize you in such a way that you will serve Him more and more.