This is my twenty-ninth year of active involvement in church leadership, both as a volunteer and as a staff member. People often ask me how I enjoy what I do – church ministry. I have a common answer – “I find ministry very fulfilling and I also find it very challenging.”
On the fulfilling side – what an honour and a privilege to be used by God to make a difference in someone’s life; what a joy to see people come to Christ and grow in their faith, and what a wonderful thing to see teams of people working together using their gifts to build God’s church.
On the challenging side: ministry stretches you to the maximum – constantly pulls you out of your comfort zone; ministry can be very draining – physically, emotionally and spiritually; what a tremendous amount of responsibility and pressure there is being a leader, and there are many problems and challenges to work through, often with no easy answers.
The apostle Paul, one of the great leaders of the church in the first century had a similar perspective on ministry. He saw ministry as a huge privilege and something he was willing to give his life for. He loved the reward of seeing people come to Christ, churches planted and the gospel impacting communities. However, he also found ministry very challenging (see 2 Cor.4:8-9; 6:3-10; 7:5).
My Top 5 challenges right now are: (1) keeping fresh, (2) not having enough time to do everything I’d like to do, (3) building emotional sustainability, (4) raising up more leaders, and (5) moving to a higher level of spiritual effectiveness. There are many more … but we’ll leave it at that for now.
All of us have challenges, no matter who we are or how things look on the outside. Many of you have challenges that make mine look pretty insignificant – sickness that won’t go away (either yours or a family member’s), a marriage that’s not going well or family conflict, singleness issues, time pressures (balancing a busy career, family and a ministry), fatigue (you’re tired and run down), financial pressures that are beyond you’re ability to solve in the short term or personal internal issues that you grapple with every day (habits of life that you’re trying to change).
Tomorrow we’ll look at some ways to respond to our challenges.