I shared the story last week in church about a conversation I overheard between my son and my nephew last year. Boys typically think that their dads can do anything, and this conversation was no exception. They were talking about all the things their dads could do when my nephew Todd shared that his dad was a chef at a restaurant. My son Luke stopped to think a minute, and then shared that his dad didn’t work anymore because he was a preacher. OUCH! Kids can be honest, but it does show that ministry has a perception problem.
The truth is that ministry is hard work. But the work is different and few people understand the challenges ministers face. The biggest change I’ve noticed from the corporate engineering world is the lack of a set schedule that most ministers deal with. Engineering was a demanding career that I loved, but when I left work each evening, I didn’t have to deal with anything until the next day. In ministry, you juggle meetings at night, unexpected pastoral care calls, study time, devotion time, and family time. My mind is constantly thinking about church and the vision and direction we are setting. And you’re still expected to share a great message from God each and every week, because Sunday really does come every week. In smaller churches, the pastor is expected to be able to do a little of everything, and you face constant challenges of training and equipping people to really do the work of the church as Ephesians 4:11-12 commands. The job of a leader is never done.
I feel that you have to be called to ministry, otherwise there is no way you can stick with it. The demands are high, and there are plenty of people who have high expectations and aren’t afraid to let you know it. You need to have thick skin and a soft heart. My advice to anyone considering ministry is to not even consider it, unless you are willing to work hard and you feel that God is truly calling you into His service as a career. For me, there is no doubt that I’m doing what God created me to do. I love making an eternal difference in people’s lives, and I’m excited to play a small role in God’s plan for our community and church. I truly believe that ministry is not work, it is a way of life. But to live your life in obedience to God’s calling takes a huge commitment and a willingness to work hard.