Anyone involved in church leadership likely has a bookshelf lined with titles on spiritual growth, Christian living, healthy ministry, foundations of faith and the like. We love to circle, highlight, and underline those “must dos” that will someday help us reach the pinnacle of our ministerial mission. But let’s face it: Where there is ministry, there are significant, ever evolving challenges.
1 Corinthians 16:9 says, “A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
Between burnout, scandal, financial insecurity, and a myriad of temptations—church leaders have no shortage of paths to take, any of which would sink even the strongest of ships. A highly effective way to destroy a ministry is to destroy its leader. The Bible is chalk full of examples of struggling leaders.
The love of power, prestige, possessions, the temptation to get caught up in politicking—and let’s not overlook pride—can all pull us away from the crux of ministry. Great leaders become ministry casualties when the vision is lost and one’s passion for Christ’s bride transforms into hollow service or, worse yet, an empty job. The fact of the matter is, this happens every day. We know, because we walk, day in and day out, with those who have been there, those who are there, and some who are headed there now. Perhaps you find yourself in one of those camps. The truth is, no leader is immune from the struggle. We know because we ourselves have experienced this struggle.
We too have been caught in a riptide of burnout. The harder you swim toward shore, the more exhausted you become and the farther you fall away from safety. It’s not intuitive, but in order to escape the riptide, you have to swim parallel to the shore. We want to help you stop fighting against the riptide of ministry challenges and get to safety.
Early in ministry, much like early in life—many of us felt invincible. The perception was that if God is in it, it should be easy. Our impression was that being a ministry leader meant that we were untouchable … bullet proof.
But then reality set in and we found that ministry could not be defined or summed up in a single job description. Ministry knew no boundaries. Ministry stretched from emails and administrative work to all the little details seldom noticed. We went into ministry wanting to change the world, but we often weren’t willing to change or grow ourselves. Over time, our rose-tinted glasses lost their shade and that first love faded.
No matter what stage of ministry you are in, the fact that you made the commitment to ministry means you are remarkable. Chances are, you are doing incredible work. But the reality is, everyone will face adversity in the midst of their ministry.
Our prayer is that you will move from surviving in NextGen ministry to thriving. Be reminded of that passion you first had for the bride and perhaps find new life for the next stage of your ministry.
This is an excerpt from David A. Miller and Vance Martin’s e-book, “A NextGen Ministry Survival Guide”. Download your free copy here.