This week I have been reflecting on how blessed our church is to have such incredible and talented people on staff. We have 6 main ministry areas: Kids, Youth, College/Career (we call these 3 “next gen”), Adults, Sunday mornings, Vitality. All of these areas are critical to our church, and each of them is being led by incredibly gifted people, our staff. We also have wonderful Team Leaders over different teams inside of these 6 areas. We are blessed!
But ministry is hard. This week I read an article that talked about the struggle of ministry. What exactly is the job? Are ministers supposed to be great communicators, counselors, planners, organizers, teachers, crisis intervention experts, and leadership developers all at the same time? Who has that total skill set? We all want our ministers to live up to our expectations – so what is the definition of success? Also, the hours are not set for ministers – so often they are overworked, and have no boundaries around their families or personal lives. As a result of these pressures and more – 90% of ministers who start in ministry will NOT make it to retirement. And when asked if they would choose another profession if they could, 50% of ministers said they would get out of paid ministry. Wow…and ouch.
This week I have also read about pastoral self-care, and the author was quoting some of the Church Fathers. Gregory of Nazianzus said that leading people was the art of arts and the science of sciences. Many of the greatest of the early Church Fathers (including Gregory) actually refused initially to serve. This is because they saw their own faults, and they knew the temptation of the office – to pride, power, and praise from people. They also had a deep love for Christ, and they saw that becoming a minister actually can HURT your relationship with Jesus. Are you living for Him, or the pressure of your people? Do you have enough time to pray when people need you all the time?
For most believers, I think this means that we need to rely first on Jesus. I have started to ask people who call me in crisis, “Have you prayed about this?” Most of the time the answer is no. There is a danger to them (and ministers) when the pastor gets talked to before Jesus. This is also why we need to be serving with others and in small groups – these smaller communities spread the care out and do not put all of the pressure on those on staff. We want our staff ministers to walk close with Jesus, to be healthy personally and with their families, and to pour into their Team Leaders, teach the Word of God, reach out to people, and care for people.
Most of all, we need to PRAY for our ministers. We need to pray for their safety in ministry – because they are under attack. We need to fill them with constant encouragement and serve alongside them. We are blessed with an incredible staff – keep them in prayer as we continue to serve God together!