Do you want to hear a true confession? Sometimes over the course of the last twenty-four years I have not always liked being in the ministry. The professional ministry I mean. I love it now (honestly!) but there have been times in the past where I have said in frustration, “I would rather be pumping gas!”
Other pastors I know have expressed a similar sentiment from time to time. It seems that the long hours and the conflicts in the congregation take an emotional toll. One gets tired and asks, “Why am I doing this?” In the weariest moments the answer may not be apparent.
Even though I am really content with my ministry in my current church, I got a shot in the arm from a guest speaker who came some years ago. He came to lead us in and teach us about worship. It was a life-changing experience for me.
He defined worship as “the act and attitude of wholeheartedly giving ourselves to God; mind, soul and body.” He pointed out that the New Testament says all believers are priests. He described the priest’s job description as, “a worshipper who draws near to God bringing gifts and sacrifices.”
“Worship would be involved in any act of obedience consciously done for God,” he said. That gave me a fresh perspective on the last 24 years.
- Did I minister to serve others? Partly.
- Did I do it to show the love of Christ? Of course.
- Did I do it because it was my job? Sometimes.
But the primary reason I have been in ministry is that I was being obedient to God’s call on my life. Because of that obedience, the hours and the stress were received as gifts by the Lord. Even though He doesn’t need anything from me, (he is God, after all) he delights when His children bring Him gifts and sacrifices. I was worshipping Him by obediently carrying out the ministry to which he has called me.
I’m thinking all of us who work hard in ministry experience frustration with our jobs. It can be hard to come up with the answer “Why do I do what I do?” It helps me to find the answer to that question in terms of worship. I suppose that’s what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
If we believe that we’re doing what God wants us to do as ministers of the gospel, then our sacrifices to do the job well are sacrifices of praise. And do you know the best part? God is pleased with our sacrifice.