Struggles in Ministry

I was struggling with what I could contribute to a blog for Christian ministers (mostly), when I realized that perhaps my struggles in ministry and how I deal is what I can share. My hope is that as I share my struggles, everyone will be encouraged to keep moving forward.

I see myself as the kind of Christian worker who might have had an easier time in an earlier century. I’m not tall, dark, and handsome. I’m not a great preacher; I have been stuttering since I could talk and still do. I can create and write good sermon notes, but delivering them is the hard part. My path in life probably would have been easier in the past. I chose a path that seemed better, but harder. Also, I work in a Creative Access country, and with the power Social Media has over the American church, my mission field’s control over the internet means I communicate with my supporters like we still live in the days of Web 1.0 (How many of you got that cultural reference?). I have felt called into Christian ministry since I was 15, but a lot of today’s American Church cultural cares more about skills similar to American business culture. I daily feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle. I’m also not really cool. In fact, I firmly believe “coolness” isn’t something Christians are called to be (For other similar ideas see: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/44947-13-contrasts-between-american-and-biblical-christianity?showall=&start=4). Finally, most people say I’m too hard on myself. I tend to think my problems are unique, but for Southern Ohio pastors, the last four to five things are problems you can all apply to your ministries as well.

Here’s how I deal with a great firewall on the web, slow Wi-Fi, and other unrealistic expectations. I remind myself the Father made me. My body pleases him, and he is glorified in me. The Father also doesn’t allow people to be untimely born; our circumstances are to shape us into who we will be (Psalm 139:13-16). Second, I was allowed to graduate seminary without preaching classes. My degree didn’t require it. I have to give myself some grace there, don’t I? Preaching might be your gift, maybe you need to stop worrying about your ability to counsel others, your ability to work with children, or some other area of being a pastor. The Spirit still put you in your church! Next, we need to stop wondering about our communication. It’s useless for me to try to put interesting details of my ministry on Social Media. I can get myself and others in deep trouble! Likewise, we all need to realize God gets people saved and gets them to church no matter how many calls we make, posts we write, billboards we pay for, etc. Some people are not going to respond to Jesus’ sacrifice the way we would like. And for very mysterious reasons, the Holy Spirit may not want someone in your Sunday School or Small Group regularly just like some people are not called to become a financial partner in our ministry. Finally, Southern Ohio’s not a growing area in America, is it? We may question our skills and wonder if we have what it takes to minister elsewhere. We MUST measure success in ministry in some way other than budget or attendance. Don’t let worry consume you (Matt. 6:27).

My suggestions are, first, stay close to Jesus. Second, increase your devotional time; even if it is already substantial. When I first arrived on the field, I was told that my time with spent with the Lord and my intimacy with him was job #1. It is for everyone, even if you have a family and drove to the hospital three times today to visit people. Also, Pray! I can’t emphasize that enough. One of my pet peeves is that we don’t pray enough. It goes like this: in the past most people did not have a Bible or could not read, but they could still pray. Therefore, historically, prayer has been more important than reading the Bible. There, I said it, ex-communicate me from Evangelicalism! No really, cultivate a prayer life worthy of Moses, Paul, and of course, Jesus. Live a transformed life. This is paramount! It only happens through prayer. Finally, try to be easy on yourself. You are his child, and he loves you. He died for you, the people in your church, and even people outside of your church. Don’t take yourself too seriously. And I’ll try to do the same.

*This blogger is a missionary to a Creative Access country and requires that his identity remain anonymous. To contact him, or help support his ministry, please contact Robie Day first at robieday@southernohiopastorscoalition.org.

@mjp2110 doesn’t think he’s funny, but discovered he was unintentionally writing churchy jokes in this article. A soon-to-be Dad, he’s from Wheelersburg, OH and attended Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary before being selected and sent to minister to a Persecuted People Group in Asia.

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