Four Memories To Save Your Ministry!
One Monday morning early in my ministry, I settled into my chair behind my desk. I had a hot cup of coffee ready and my Bible open, ready to start the week with study and prayer when the office door flew open. The door slammed violently shut. I was startled and alarmed. This was not a normal occurrence. Then the shouting began. Accusations were being hurled in my direction. My visitor was incredibly angry at a decision made the previous Sunday and proceeded to illuminate all my leadership and ministry deficiencies. I began to wonder why in the world I had ever taken this job called ministry…
Some years later, in another church, a different visitor popped into my office for a little ‘chat.’ He began with “Pastor, folks been talking…” I’ve come to be a little apprehensive at the use of that phrase. Especially when appended with something like, “and it ain’t good.” After this visit I actually spent a considerable amount of time scouring online job boards thinking, “surely there’s something else I can do!”
Some of you clergy folks may have no idea what this experience is like. Honestly, I envy you a little. Personally and thankfully, I’ve only experienced this kind of thing happening on a couple of occasions. But others of you are thinking, “he’s just described every Monday of ministry life.” These occurrences impact us on a deep spiritual and emotional level more than we realize. And, we’ve all heard that clergy are leaving their ministerial careers, they’re quitting, prior to retirement at historically high numbers.
Personally I resolved not to quit. I don’t know, maybe it’s the old marine in me, but I just couldn’t leave the ministry. There was too much right to get weighed down with what was wrong. But I wondered what to do when my spirit hurts and my emotions are frayed and my confidence is in tatters?
I sat down and wrote out four ministry memories. This has become my practice whenever I find myself struggling a little bit; or when I’m wondering if I should do something else with my life; or when I’ve just had a tough day and I’m wondering if this thing called ministry is still worth it. When you’re feeling this way, or you’ve just experienced a tough situation in ministry, you might try writing out you’re four ministry memories. It’ll help!
- Remember your call experience. Take a moment and reflect on that moment when you knew that God was calling you to ministry. Just pause a bit and remember that moment when God led you into this adventure of ministry. Personally I tend to think “God called me into this and God will have to call me out of it.”
- Remember the hands of the bishop. This was a powerful and sacred moment for me. I can still recall the weight of Bishop Max Whitfield’s hands upon my head as he said “Take thou authority…” Remembering this moment of ordination settles my soul and calms my mind. Now if you’re in a system that doesn’t use bishops, try remembering who ordained or commissioned you for ministry and what was said over you as you were set apart for the work of ministry.
- Remember a changed life. Simply put, take some time to recall when someone’s life was changed in the midst of your ministry. In times of conflict and uncertainty remembering the lives that have been changed can bring some needed perspective.
- Remember the wins. And finally, remember when things did go right; when your leadership and ministry really worked well. When a program or ministry really ‘knocked it out of the park,’ It’s ok to remember the wins!
This little practice can save our ministries.
It’s act of enlarging our insight and regaining appropriate perspective.
Give it a shot! And, let me know how it goes!
Grace and Peace, Rich