Let’s face it. Ministry can be draining. For most, serving the local church as a full- time or bivocational minister of the Gospel requires a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week commitment. Serving in the church is far from just a Sunday affair.
Some don’t, but many do overlook the countless hours ministers put into serving the local body of believers. If it weren’t for a deep sense of calling, no doubt many ministers would have called it quits several Sundays ago. Unfortunately, ministers don’t always feel the love and appreciation they deserve.
No, this is not a whining editorial in defense of every minister who ever put in an extra hour of overtime, nor is it a proclamation that every minister is worked to the bone. It is, however, a pause. A time to reflect and ask yourself, when was the last time you ministered to the minister?
Ministers have a huge responsibility before God to minister to His church. I Timothy 3:1 says the pastoral office is a “noble work.” No one ever said leading the church would be easy. Some have even likened the challenge to a cowboy herding cats.
Paul went on to describe pastors in I Timothy 3:2-7 as “above reproach . . . self controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable . . . not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy . . . (with) a good reputation among outsiders.” Talk about a tough job description. No wonder ministers are often under such tight scrutiny. We must remember that even with these high standards, pastors are still people. They will fail, stumble and make mistakes. And like all of us, they need to be encouraged, assisted and forgiven when they do.
Every church has its complainers and its champions. Successful ministers have learned to take the good with the bad. Most have learned to overlook the childish behavior sometimes displayed by so-called Saints and focus rather on the joy of serving with the larger body of believers who are growing in the Lord. Jeff Iorg said it best in his new book, Is God Calling, “Finding joy in the ministry is about finding satisfaction in working with people. Joy comes from watching people be saved and grow into mature believers.”
God loves people. Ministers are in the people business. Not surprisingly, people often act like people. Their interaction with a minister can serve as encouragement or discouragement. Perhaps there is a reason for a shortage in ministers.
In the end we must all be reminded of the words found in Colossians 3:12-17, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”