For 8 years I worked in a church. I was a Director of Christian Education. I worked alongside pastors. The nature of that position is to work in a team, led by pastors. During that time, this ugly form of competition and self-glorification reared its head in me. I got tired of being the secondary leader. I thought my ideas were better. I felt like I saw ministry one way and they saw it an entirely different way. I became frustrated and jealous that people in the congregation and community adored them so much. Didn't they know I was working hard, too?
It was wrong. I was wrong. As my pastor lapped me (seriously—TEN TIMES!) I thought about the ministry of pastors. I’ve had the honor of knowing and working with a lot of wonderful pastors. They carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders. People lean on them in times of crisis. People vent to them when they are frustrated. They are called to care for the souls of their congregation and extend that care to the community. They are called to have hard conversations with people who are hurting. They get to be part of amazing celebrations and mournful goodbyes. My job was challenging, but pastors carry a particular burden. It can be an amazing honor to carry, but the devil works hard to get in the way.
Ministry is hard. It's hard because sometimes it looks easy. "Don't you only work on Sundays?" rings in our ears and the devil inserts pockets of doubt. It's hard because there is an enemy. But that enemy isn't that co-worker. It's not the guy in the clerical collar. The devil is hard at work to get in the middle of that team that desires to share Jesus with the world. All of the amazing gifts of creativity and leadership; all of the great ideas and compassion for people can be so quickly turned into resentment, arguing, and hurt
I had no idea how spiritually dry, how ugly my heart had become, until I had some time away. I gave the devil a foothold. I did not hold tightly to the promises of God. I let resentment soak in. I let doubt take over. I trusted in myself. I was steeped in anxiety.
But I am not those things! A little time has unraveled some of that ugliness and I can see some things that I didn't before. I have been given awesome gifts-- gifts that impact people for the Kingdom of God. I connect easily with people. I am creative. I like to solve problems. I encourage parents. Hanging out with Jr. high kids is my favorite. I can communicate the Gospel with humor. These are gifts. I don't want the devil to have opportunity for those gifts to not be used as God intended.
Friends in ministry, let's not give the devil a foothold. I know it's hard. I know you can feel under appreciated. I know that relationships on your ministry team are difficult. But you are seen. You were placed with a purpose right where you are. You are specifically and expertly gifted to be right where you are. You are impacting God's Kingdom. Lean in to what God has planned.