Yesterday, I posted an article entitled “Attention Pastors: Working Harder Isn’t Always the Answer.”
In that post I mentioned that there is a tendency among Pastors to think that if we just work a little harder or put in a little more time and effort into it we will get better results. But this strategy is like hitting the gas pedal when you are stuck in the mud. All you are going to end up doing is spinning your wheels. So, we mentioned that the first step to take when you are beginning to experience ministry burnout or when things get plateaued is to take your foot off the gas. Today, I want to talk to you about a second reason in overcoming times of ministry fatigue — Remember that God never called you to do it alone.
Remember that God Never Called You to Do it On Your Own
As a Pastor I am good at being able to tell my church members that they need to “let God be in control” but not so good at living this out in my life. But one of the major causes of ministerial meltdown is the idea that we need to do it all on our own. A few years ago, I was preaching a revival for a friend of mine named Shawn. During the week that I spend with Shawn he literally did everything for that church— he cleaned the bathrooms, he made the hospital visits, he printed the bulletins, he picked out the songs, he organized church library, he ordered the Sunday school literature and the list could go on and on. I would drive over from the hotel each morning at 8 am to meet Shawn at the church so that we could go eat breakfast together. Every morning Shawn had already been to the church and worked up a sweat. He told me later that he arrived at the church every morning at 6 am and often did not get home again until after 9 pm. When I asked Shawn why he was doing all of this he replied, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”
The truth of the matter is that Shawn could easily have given most of these tasks to come else but he chose take on the entire ministry of the church by himself. I have met dozens of Pastors over the years who have fallen into this same trap. Their motivations may vary but the results are always the same. Some, like Shawn, are driven by ambition and want to succeed so that they can move on to a larger church. Others simply feel trapped and believe that if they don’t do the work it will never get done. The truth, however, is that God never called you to do it on your own.
As Pastors we need to constantly be reminded that we are part of the body of Christ. God has called us to lead and equip the church but He never called us to “do” the work of the church. Sometimes we forget this important truth and fall into the trap of believing that we have to do it all. The work belongs to the church and every member is called to be an active part of the ministry of the church. You are just one part of the body of Christ. You are an important part, but nevertheless you can only do what one member of the body can do. If you try to do more, you are going to cause injury to yourself and others.
Let me give you a couple of steps that you can take to overcome this tendency in your ministry.
First, we need to learn to be dependent upon the indwelling presence of Jesus to empower us for ministry. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 15:5 where Jesus says, “I am the vine you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” We need to pay special attention to the words “for apart from me you can do nothing.” The minute I think that there is anything I can accomplish for God on my own, I am in trouble. The Bible clearly teaches me that apart from Christ I can do nothing. That means that my primary goal in ministry must be to stay connected my only source of life, strength, and power. We will look at this in more depth in chapter 4 when we learn about ministering from the overflow of our lives. But for now we simply need to remember that it is God who called us to ministry and only God can empower us for ministry.
Second, we need to remember that God has called us to minister within the context of the body of Christ. The ministry of the gospel requires that every member be actively engaged in the work. As Ministers, we are not charged with accomplishing it all on our own. We have been made part of the body of Christ and given the task of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. We are not in this alone. God has given us His Spirit and made us part of His body.
- Attention Pastors: Working Harder Isn’t Always the Answer (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- Attitude Shapes Character (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- Three Things You Must Manage to Lead Well (pastors.com)
- Real Leaders Apologize (www.thomrainer.com)
- Advice for Your First Year in a New Ministry Position (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)