Leading God’s people has never been easy. Just ask Moses. After years of struggle to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, it was only a short while until they began to grumble, a month and a half, to be exact (Ex. 16:1). The complete lack of logic found in their complaints is so very telling. We’d be better off dead in Egypt, because at least there we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted. Imagine trying to address that kind of complaint in a business meeting.
The complaining did not stop there, but the point is well illustrated. Leading God’s people has never been easy. Because of that fact, ministry often takes its toll on pastors. Discouragement, disappointment, anger, bitterness, and burnout are frequent results of the difficult task of leading the church. Nearly 70% of the pastors in the US feel as if they have no close friends. Depression is a struggle for 40%. Conflict with parishioners is not uncommon, and many pastors and spouses feel that ministry is an outright hazard to the health of their families.
There is nothing quite like ministry. It is exhilarating and perplexing, joyful and discouraging. It is awesome and at the same time leaves us feeling powerless. Ministry can address some of the grandest issues in life and it can force us to face the pettiest of ideas and attitudes. It can bring the most phenomenal sense of the divine, and the most awful awareness of evil – sometimes on the same day. We can experience the richness of Christian fellowship right alongside the pangs of loneliness. There is nothing quite like the ministry.
Yet, with all its challenges and struggles, there is nothing greater than the life of ministry. Our call comes to us from the very heart and grace of God. Imagine, he chose us to this high task. To live a life of partnership with God, sharing in his work, joining him in what he is doing, what could be more fulfilling? Where else can one participate in the wonder of God’s activity as he puts a broken marriage back together? What could be more powerful than partnering with God as he breaks the chains of an addict, forgives the sin of a wayward teenager, or brings home the life-long prodigal? Only in ministry do we see God apply words we speak to change lives. Only in ministry do we have the joy of baptizing that new believer into a brand new life. Only in ministry do we daily walk with people, leading them to the life they were created to live. Only in ministry do we experience the joy of seeing a congregation become ignited by a passion for the mission of the church, and only there do we have the privilege of leading them as they do so.
Yes, it’s true. Leading God’s people has never been easy. But that is not the end of the story. Ministry is the most amazing and fulfilling life imaginable. Why not celebrate the wonder of ministry, and the grace of God that allowed us to live this incredible life?