Journey For A Chance

The Mess of Ministry

Posted on: June 20, 2014

  • In: Life
  • Comments Off on The Mess of Ministry

**Disclaimer: when I refer to people in ministry, I know there are exceptions to the rule. Not everyone gives 100% for different reasons but the focus of this blog is those who do.**

It took me over 2 weeks to write this LONG blog because I had so much swirling through my head that it was hard to sort out. It may sound like a hot mess but this is coming straight from my heart. This is my point of view about a little something called “ministry” and it’s quite lengthy. I’m here to shed some light for those that may not understand local church ministry or may be completely oblivious to what it *can* entail. This is coming from mine and my husbands 9 years in ministry; almost 6 in full-time and the rest in volunteer or part-time ministry. We have served in the areas of lead pastors, associate pastors, youth pastors, and worship pastors so we have a little taste of just about everything as far as the local church is concerned. Remember: This is written from the perspective of a person in ministry but may not be the view of everyone in ministry. So…here we go.

Ministry is messy.
Church ministry is simply imperfect people trying to reach, lift up, encourage, and disciple imperfect people through the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. That means you will deal with all kinds of situations, all kinds of circumstances, all kinds of criticism, and all kinds of people. You will get dirty and if you’re not getting dirty, you’re probably not doing ministry. The moment you expect ministers to be prefect and not make a mistake is the moment you will be sorely disappointed.

Ministry is not for the weak.
Even in the midst of their own trials, troubles, and circumstances, people in ministry continue to give what little strength they may have left to make sure others are growing in their walk with the Lord. They have families, friends, and loved ones just like everyone else. Some days (even as hard as they try) those loved ones get placed on a back burner so as to help those needing comfort and guidance in the church. You have to acquire broad shoulders to deal with some of the things you deal with daily (the good and the bad, the legit and the straight up ugly).

Ministry is physically exhausting.
Church ministry requires being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (subtract 7 days if you are a select few that get away for a vacation once/twice a year and then you would just have to cancel if there is a major emergency inside the church). You are planning events, writing sermons, taking care of issues; big and small, counseling people, conducting staff meetings, organizing/paying church bills, balancing church budgets, possibly cleaning your church, mowing the grounds, and (this list could continue on for quite a while) all while trying to maintain a personal life.

Ministry is emotionally draining.
When you give all you can to your family, your job (if bi-vocational), your friends, your church, and yourself things start to jumble together. Being bi-vocational (In my opinion because I’ve done both) is the hardest of them all. Unless you’re superhuman or a clone, one area is going to suffer along the way. You also never know when people are going to drop “bombs” on you. Which brings me to this point: There is a total misconception about Pastors. They are not mind readers. If you have a problem you must go tell them, especially BEFORE it gets outta hand. They are here to help but can only help when they know where the need lies. A pastors mind is constantly churning. They are thinking about their community, their church people, the attendance, the finances, the future, and their own family. When someone comes to them with a problem in the church, or they “hear” a rumor about a problem, they will most likely beat themselves up wondering what they should’ve done differently because in the midst of everything they missed something (this type of stuff is seriously emotionally draining). And though they wouldn’t have known unless they were told, they still take responsibility even if it isn’t theirs to take because when a sheep has an issue the shepard is going to question what they could’ve done to prevent it.

Ministry can be brutal
Although this topic should NEVER be, it is unfortunately much more common than one may think. This topic is one that hits home for me and will be longer than the others.
A short background story: I was once a pretty outgoing person. It wasn’t until I was in ministry for the first 6 years of my marriage that this little fact changed. Do you want to know why? Church people…that’s why. (Hang on through this little section…it’s gets more positive later, I promise!). I’m not going into details but to put it bluntly: Church people *can be* some of the most judgmental, hypocritical, selfish, and immature human beings around (no, really Amber, tell us how you really feel…). Yes, there are just as many of these types of people outside the church and the majority inside the church are fine but I’m just talking about church folk who are guilty and refuse to change (I’ve been guiltily of all of them too but I try to make an effort to change if I notice it happening). There are usually one or two (or 10) in every church. I’m not sugar coating this one because it’s time someone “in” the church said it out of truth and love but also not “beating around the bush” (some just can’t take a hint). 😉 We’ve danced around it long enough and it’s created a much bigger problem than it needed to be. If you have been in church 8+ years, claim to be a born-again believer, and you still can’t put your big girl/boy undies on and quit getting offended every time something doesn’t agree with you, then it’s time you evaluate your relationship with Jesus and determine where you need to make some changes. Think about this: Would you put yourself in the Problem Solver or Problem Creator category? We’re all likely one or the other and maybe both sometimes! Like I said, I used to be pretty outgoing but I changed in a lot of ways in order to protect my own heart from becoming bitter and hurt time and time again. I made a firm decision about 3 years ago to stop caring about the “opinions” of others. It was eating me alive and chipping away my sanity inch by inch. Was it a wise decision? At the time I thought it was but now I better understand how important relationships are to the soul and to the building of God’s kingdom. To be completely transparent; I’m still not the same person I once was. I don’t let just anyone into my heart and until you’ve been in my shoes, you wouldn’t understand. I still have some walls but they are gradually getting thinner and shorter. It’s definitely a process by the help and grace of God.

Along these same lines…

Ministry is lonely.
There is a vast misunderstanding in churches (and even outside the church) about the relationships of people in ministry. In most instances, ministry people gravitate to other people in ministry. It’s not because they don’t like other people or want other friends (in fact, it’s usually exact opposite). It’s because of common ground. There is a totally different accountability and it STINKS sometimes but it comes with the territory. Those in ministry are under a SUPER-SIZED magnifying glass! So, who better to understand what you’re going through than a person floating along in that same boat? I love that the ministry team we currently work on is close and united. It is unrealistic to believe that you can be close with everyone that crosses your path but I believe God intends you to be close to those that you serve alongside in ministry; one mind, one accord. God knows ministry is LONELY and you will need those with experience and wisdom to encourage you along this crazy journey. Now, we all have families and ridiculous schedules so we see each other at church on Sundays, our once a month meeting, and maybe a few times a year for a special activity. That’s it. The awesome thing is though…we know we will be there for one another when needed. We don’t worry about being judged or criticized because we’ve all served in the same trenches before and we can relate and comfort one another when times get rough. Being with others in ministry, in my opinion, should be a “safe zone” where we can voice our concerns, our ideas, and our accomplishments and receive nothing but love and compassion.

BUT even after all that:

Ministry is rewarding.
When you’re called to ministry you can’t get away from it. No matter how hard or fast you try to run away, you will always have something in your heart calling you back. You can choose to ignore it, but God never revokes his calling. It’s always there tugging at your heart in one way or another. I believe that the science of DNA misses something; something not seen through a microscope. It misses the fact that there are spiritual strands of DNA that intertwine with the physical strands of DNA. Strands that God designed and placed before we were ever even a speck of existence. The strands are called callings. The strands are called purpose. The strands are called expectations. The strands are called faith, hope, and love. And even when we are at our breaking points and can’t give anymore…it’s in our DNA to keep going. We all have many reasons and chances to give it up but the voice of the Holy Spirit on the inside is louder than our voice of “reasoning”. We live for the moments when we see the “light” turn on in someone’s eyes and know that what we’ve been teaching finally clicked. We live for the moments when a lost soul lifts their hands in total surrender to God. We live for the moments when the people of God gather in one place and corporately worship him in spirit and truth. We live for the moments when people engage in musical worship and desperately cry out for God’s presence and glory. We live for the moments when we can reach out to our brothers and sisters in need and MEET those needs. This is what keeps us going. This is what adds a spark to a sometimes dwindling fire. This makes all the other topics fade into the background. It’s that possibility…that chance…that someone will realize their God-given purpose on this earth.

So know that being in ministry is not all roses and rainbows. We sometimes feel inadequate and have struggles too but we try our best to look past them as much as we can to put others needs first because God said, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 & “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” Romans 12:13. Those in ministry will fail sometimes but I’m so glad that Jesus doesn’t fail. The old saying still stands “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”, which in this case can go both ways. God can take your struggles and mine and turn them into beautiful victories. He’s provided for us even when we deserved to be left without. He’s proven his love time and time again and we will continue to do His ministry because even if you try to take the person out of ministry you can never take ministry out of the person.


  • None
  • amberhines: Thanks for reading! I absolutely agree! I went into the program telling my husband it was impossible for us because they didn't understand how strap
  • life in the orchard: I can relate to a lot of what you wrote in this post! It feels so good to be moving closer to debt freedom and since following Dave's plan I really be
  • Dreams: I'm glad you support breastfeeding and thank you for sharing Scripture. It's always nice to hear different perspectives when it comes to hot topics li
%d bloggers like this: