When the projectors aren’t working, when the sanctuary is too cold, when drama breaks out who are they gonna call? Unfortunately not Ghostbusters…
No job description can truly summarize the duties of a minister.
In John 6 we see a very familiar and well-known Bible story unfold. John 6:1-5 says,
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
Most of us recognize this story as one of the miraculous works of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and it is, but I also see this as a description of the life of a minister or disciple. Jesus, the Son of God, the miracle worker, the God incarnate feeds the crowd that was following Him! We know that the crowd obviously needed more than earthly bread and fish, but Jesus recognized a need and fulfilled it.
The job description of one in ministry is exactly that. The work is never ending, and the demands of ministry don’t conveniently fall into a 9-5 schedule. Like a doctor who is on call, ministers are merely between tasks… never really “off the job.”
Ministry is a 24/7 job because the needs of church or ministry remain constant.
We do what it takes to get the job done… regardless of what the job description may say. So… how do we maintain this lifestyle? We obviously aren’t superhuman. Below we will think together on how to be an effective minister, get the tasks done, and not kill ourselves in the process.
- When possible leave work at work.
In some fields of work when you go home you are free from the duties that come with your job. You can’t really take a piece of machinery home or hold face-to-face meetings from the comfort of your bedroom. Ministry cannot be described in this manner. People have needs that arise at all times of the day and night and need your help “on-the-spot” without warning.
That is exactly what we signed up for.
Pastoral ministry is relational, and relationships are developed in and grown in times of need… and we all know that needs don’t arise according to our convenience or schedule.
However, some things just aren’t that urgent. Some things can be left at work until tomorrow. That bulletin can be printed 12 hours from now, and those lights can be adjusted and programmed another time. When possible leave work at work and allow yourself to rest and be refreshed.
Even Jesus needed some “time-off.” In Matthew 14:23 it says,
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
- Family first.
It is pretty well known that the families of a minister are often the one’s sacrificing the most. Often the needs of a minister’s family are the last to be taken care of. They usually receive the leftovers… however little that is.
But… we must work diligently to see that our family is prioritized correctly and not deserted for the church. In fact, we see in 1 Timothy 3:12 that part of the qualifications for a minister is to have a healthy household.
Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.
All throughout Scripture we see the importance of family in ministry. In 1 Peter 3:7 Paul calls us to live in “understanding” with our families and to care for each other’s needs in more than just physical ways. 1 Peter 3:7 says,
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
For those of us who are married we are called to love our wives/ spouses like Christ loved the church! Ephesians 5:25 says,
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Lastly, Matthew 19:4-6 says,
He said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The ESV Study Bible commentary is very beneficial when interpreting this passage. It says,
From the moment they are married, they are unified in a mysterious way that belongs to no other human relationship, having all the God-given rights and responsibilities of marriage that they did not have before. Being “one flesh” includes the sexual union of a husband and wife … but it is more than that because it means that they have left their parents’ household … and have established a new family, such that their primary human loyalty is now to each other, before anyone else.
Our loyalty to our families is unlike loyalty shared with any other mortal being. We must place priority on those who help hold us up, who we come home to, who understand us, and care deeply for us.
We cannot forsake our families.
- Do not over-commit.
This is a category than I myself struggle with in a very real way. How many times have you over-committed yourself to the point of breakdown? I have over and over again… in fact; I am over-committed at this very moment.
It never happens on purpose! We have an opportunity that arises that really is a good thing and we hop on board eagerly to offer our assistance. Boom! We have too much going on and things get neglected… for me the thing that usually gets neglected is my own physical health/ rest and my poor wife.
Busyness is a real issue!
The devil would love to take us “out of the game” by bogging us down and making it impossible for us to do exceptionally well in any area of our ministry.
This is where priorities are key… we must learn the art of saying “no.”
In ministry sometimes I think we are scared of saying “no” for the fear of letting someone down or missing an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God. But what we often forget is that we are meant to equip… not do ALL the work alone!
Ephesians 4:12 actually says what our ministry is…
To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
If we are spending our time equipping others then we should be able to share the workload! It is important for us to remember that it isn’t us that builds the church… it is Christ.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says exactly that to Simon Peter,
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
- Make time to care for your own spiritual needs.
This should seem obvious, but unfortunately it is easier said than done. As ministers we are constantly pouring ourselves out and into others and if we don’t take time to be refilled then the supply is going to run dry. It’s not a matter or IF… but rather WHEN.
Even Jesus separated Himself from others to pray and refuel.
Mark 1:35 says,
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Matthew 14:23 says,
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
We must not sacrifice our own relationship with the Father to get a job “done.” In reality our congregations NEED us to be ever connected to the Lord. Take time. Get alone. Allow God’s Word to speak to you.
It is through the Father alone that we have the strength to handle the tasks of ministry. Rely on Him.