It is always dangerous to speak in generalities, but I am going to do just that because a post called 4 things that might happen to you in ministry is not quite as compelling. It also might not be as honest. For those of you who have been in ministry for a while, I suspect that these things may have happened to you several times. For those of you who are just starting your ministry journey, the best thing that you can do is to prepare for when these things happen to you.
1. You will think that you can do someone else’s job better. I used to think that this is one of those things that you should repent of right away and feel bad for not being a team player. I have now actually come to a place where I see this as neutral. There are times when I look at the other ministries of the church and think of ways that I could improve them. Now, while many of these times I would be wrong, there are times when I have been able to give suggestions that helped the overall ministry of the church. The key is whether you will use you ideas to build the church and ministry team or whether you will use it to destroy the team. For example, I really did not think that we were doing the right thing in our service having an instrumental offering time. It slowed the service down and created some weird stops and starts for what we were trying to do. I could have chosen to build support in the congregation or criticize our worship team, or I could use the processes in place to offer a reasoned suggestion in our staff meeting. I chose the latter and the changes made sense so we are doing them.
2. You will think it is up to you to find the magic words to convert one of your students. In the past year we have had a number of students who are coming to our programs who are not Christians and have no background in church. In a movie, I would say a particular phrase where, when hearing it, the student would then break down into tears and confess faith in Jesus and then become the next Billy Graham. In real life, I will get to know the student, have some conversations about his faith, work with him through some issues he has with believing in God, pray often for his salvation, and in the end hope that he chooses to follow Christ. There are no magic words and we must realize that we rely on God’s timing to bring people to faith.
3. You will be tempted to give advice way above your qualifications. I was told this would happen while a student in divinity school. It took about ten minutes in ministry for me to face this temptation. On one of my first Sundays at this church, I was asked if I would be willing to counsel someone’s 18 year old granddaughter who was pregnant and unmarried. She was not sure what to do with the baby, and I was being asked to give her ministerial advice while still having a hard time identifying myself as a minister. The best advice I could give was to tell her to contact a pregnancy counseling group here in town. I have also been asked for marital advice, how to help a kid with ADHD, how to talk to a teen about an impending divorce, and how to help a kid with extreme anger issues. While my advice or counsel may scratch the surface, if I am honest, I am not qualified to address most of these issues. There are people whose sole jobs are to help people with these circumstances. Counseling is just one of about fifty things that I do.
4. You will need to take a break. There are ministers who believe that in order to be doing all that God has called them to do, they must never, ever, ever stop working. If that is true, then I am in trouble. I need breaks. I need time to refocus and regroup. I am guessing that you do too.