Why did you go into ministry?
Typical response: To make a difference and bring people to a relationship
with Christ and the community.
Why did you leave the ministry?
Too often a typical response: I thought working in ministry would be
For some full-time ministers, it does not take much time to realize that being in ministry is a great joy, but also very messy. We go into ministry expecting it to be, well, perfect! After all, I’m doing ministry for God. So is everybody else around me. Life should be good.
We soon discover that ministry can be messy. Why? Because ministry is about working with people. And since all people are sinners, then the church is full of sinners. With sin comes messiness. Messy ministry can sometimes bring about disillusionment. We’ve all been there. Politics. Territorialism. The fight for putting an event on the master calendar in the parish hall. Conflict. Yup, just plain messiness. And it is really easy for us to say, “Ministry should not be like this.” Then, get up and leave the ministry for good.
In ten years of working in full-time ministry, I have seen my fair share of messiness. Some have asked me how I stick with it. How do I keep the joy in ministry alive? These strategies work for me and I hope that they might help you.
Sounds like a no brainer, but it needs to be said. The ministry I do is not for the pastor, the secretary, or anyone else. It’s for God. Prayer allows me to stay focused on God. When I get frustrated about, say, church politics, that’s when I stop and give it all to God. “Lord, in this messiness, I know you are doing a good work.” Say it, and then truly believe it.
2. Keep your nose out of where it does not belong
Sometimes this has to do with church gossip. Stay out of it. When you get involved, a few things happen. A.) You find out things you really did not want to know. B.) You get sucked into the negativity and all of a sudden you are causing it. C.) You focus on only weaknesses in people and forget about their strengths. So learn to say, “It’s none of my business.”
3. Walk the halls slowly
This is about collaboration. Walk the halls of the church office slowly. Meaning, get to know the people you work with, both staff and volunteer. Ministry is all about relationships. Build these relationships up and work towards collaboration. Say “hello” to ALL the staff each morning (even the ones you may not like as much). Hang out outside the doors of the church as mass lets out. Be truly interested in getting to know people. Make relationship building your number one responsibility.
Keeping the joy alive in ministry is not easy. Don’t get sucked into having a negative attitude. Bring the joy back. What strategies do you use to keep the joy alive?