Ministry Ups & Downs

Life in ministry is sorta like a roller coaster…full of ups & downs. I don’t particularly like roller coasters, but I do enjoy life in ministry. Weird. I guess the up times cause me to rejoice in the wonderful things that God does in our lives while the down times make me cling more tightly to Him. (Roller coasters also draw me closer to God but in a whole different way…)

Mykaela after riding her first roller coaster (& her daddy laughing at her)

This week has been a roller coaster for us in ministry.

UP: Great friendships and community connections made during the 4th of July celebrations

DOWN: A church friend got her feelings hurt when I unintentionally left her out of Sunday plans…and she published her hurt on Facebook.

UP: My sister & bro-in-law came to visit from NC! I haven’t seen any of my NC family since Christmas, so I was excited for this visit!

DOWN: A church member got offended that my  husband didn’t go to the hospital when their niece & nephew had their tonsils removed Friday morning.

UP: Sunday School class had a great discussion about building community and being devoted to God.

DOWN: Music minister insults my bro-in-law. (Shane, of course, didn’t care because that’s how he rolls…but it bothered me. 🙂 )

UP: Praise team & Special music is in sync, youth camp report is encouraging, sermon is a “bases-loaded-out-of-the-park-home-run” message, people are excited, God is moving!

DOWN: Someone leaves several notes in the church office written to the Jeff, the youth leader and the church council stating that the praise team needs to sing with more enthusiasm, the music needs “serious help”, and asking us to bring back the suggestion box. Naturally, these “suggestions” were contributed anonymously which is always very helpful. (Since the computer world has yet to invent a universally recognized “sarcastic font”, please don’t hesitate to add extreme sarcasm to the previous sentence…)

I must admit, yesterday afternoon I was very DOWN. Almost two years ago the “suggestion box” became a tool satan & his complainers used to completely tear down my husband and I and anyone else who attempted to do any type of ministry. We thought the issue had been addressed and the message communicated that “no anonymous complaints will be taken into consideration.” So, this new crop of complaints really was discouraging. It’s no coincidence, either, that the complaints landed on the desk the same week that people are starting to get excited about church again and when there are lots of good things happening in our church & community. Once my husband reminded me about the spiritual warfare side of things it was easier to let go of my hurt and frustration. I sing in the praise team and I know how hard we work to prepare for worship each Sunday. I also know that it would be easy to point fingers at the people in the crowd and “suggest” that they sing with more enthusiasm as well. But I’m making the conscious effort to let God, my husband & the church council handle all the complaints while I work on focusing on the positive things happening this week.

UP: World Changers will be here this week. We always have a great time serving these young people as they serve our community.

UP: I get to make a new friend today. A lady and her daughters have recently moved to our area and need someone to show them around. I get to spend the afternoon chatting and visiting playgrounds, the library & other free fun places…and do a little ministry, too!

UP: My Daddy’s birthday is today, and while I can’t be there with him, I do get to talk to him on the phone this afternoon. Plus, I got him a really cool present that he’s already received and I know he loves. 🙂

UP: God is still God. He is in control. I can trust Him. I am His favorite creation. He is with me. He sees me. He knows me. He loves me. When you look at it that way, nothing else matters!

 

What about you? Do you experience these ups & downs of ministry?  How do you handle the roller coaster that is the life of a pastor’s family?

 

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5 thoughts on “Ministry Ups & Downs

  1. I’m happy to hear that, and sorry to hear that.

    I had students fill out evaluation forms every semester at the Bible School. I was the only one who would read them, because most of them served as an opportunity for students to tell us everything that we did wrong. I didn’t believe it was fair for my staff to read it when they had already sacrificed so much to serve these students. Really it’s only one or two, but complainers are always the loudest. My greatest recollections were the ones who felt it was their duty to write various pages on each individual staff member (there were only 13) and tell each of us what we needed to do to be better leaders and ministers. Another was the student who believed he needed us to know that nobody in the entire place reflected Christ, and there was nobody he could look up to. Most others were about how we needed more meat, how we needed less meat, there should be less rules, rules should be better enforced, there should be more days off to go to the beach, too many people were there to only go to the beach, and the common “the staff clearly doesn’t care about us.” I was always tempted to just remove the evaluations, but every once in a while there was a really good suggestion, and I also wondered how many people just needed to vent, and only know how to vent cruelly.

    Leadership and ministry can be cruel and lonely, but if we focus on God’s glory, grace, and the fact that he never said to choose us because we are “worthy” of being his ministers, His grace is sufficient. At the end, I would always remind students that perhaps God put me there, just to show them how unquenchable and infinite his patience was. If he could use somebody like me for his service, imagine what He could do with perfect people like those who evaluated us.

    Be blessed, and be strong.

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    • Thanks, Marco…what a tough thing ministry is sometimes. It’s amazing to me how good “Christian” folks can be so harsh to those in leadership around them. It brings to mind the verse that says “if you keep on biting and devouring one another, you will be consumed by one another.” Gal 5:15 I love your answer, though. “If God can use someone like me for His service, imagine what He could do with a perfect person like you!” I might have to tuck that one away for future reference… 😉

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  2. I am not sure its possible to be in ministry & not have ups & downs. We have had our share
    & I guess we just roll with it. Hang on tight, pray & see how God wants it worked out.

    Right now we are on the upside. Our VBS has sparked a revival: we had 11 come to
    Christ during that week, 2 on that following Sun., 8 assurances & we have baptized 11 in the last 3 weeks, & we have had 3 families join the church since VBS. Our youth group is
    really exploding right now in numbers & excitement. We had a teen girls night that was a
    total success. Last Sun, the 10th, we had 200 for church attendance & we sit back &
    realize this is all God & we are just along for the ride.

    I don’t want or desire to ‘brag’ on us; its NOT us. This is a God thing. We have had those
    dry wandering in the desert years that are horrible. I shiver when I think of those but
    now. . .now its just amazing to stand back, watch & just be thankful that I get to be a part
    of it having a front row view of God’s handiwork.

    With all that being said, we have had the down side interwoven in the form of spiritual warfare.
    The weeks preceding VBS were difficult in the organizational aspect which left it weighing heavily on my husband. Currently we have a marriage that is disintergrating before our eyes
    & a close cm was given the diagnosis of cancer. Sunday we were hit with some annoyances that comes with the territory. I just wish I knew when they were coming so I could be more prepared. They seem to catch me off guard. But, I think that is how Satan likes to roll.

    A couple of things we try to do is to, keep our 4 boys, young men, out of the loop when complaining or conflicts begin. We don’t want their relationship with our cm’s to be tarnished or guarded. They are older so we only include them if they are a part of the situation which rarely happens. Also, we really try to enjoy the good times, to bask in those while they
    are here. And, when its the down side, we work at having times where it does not dominate
    our life. Everyone needs some ‘off’ time. Plus lots of prayer.

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    • So glad God is doing great things in your area! You are so right that spiritual warfare has much to do with the ups & downs of ministry. I like how you mentioned having “off” times when you don’t let the frustrations of ministry dominate your life. We do that often and even have days where “church conversations” are off limits. It helps us focus on the rest of the life God has given us. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

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  3. Pingback: What I Love About Being Married to the Pastor « Confessions of a Not So Perfect Pastor's Wife

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