Reading time: two minutes. How would you complete the sentence, “It’s the best job you’ll ever…”? This week’s wellness catchphrase is one that breaks my heart. It was an LCMS pastor who was asked in a focus group some years back, “What’s it like to be a pastor in the LCMS these days?” who responded, “It’s the best job you’ll ever hate.” Well, that’s certainly very realistic. There’s no hint of romanticism or fantasy in a comment like that. Yes, the work of ministry can be very frustrating, aggravating and discouraging. And yes, the work of ministry is the very, very best job on earth at the same time. Maybe self-care for joy and vitality is learning to find ways to turn a saying like that around to one that’s more positive. I’ve got an idea. “It’s the best job you’ll ever hate” expresses both the privilege of serving in ministry, “best,” and also the reality of the hardships involved, “hate.” My hope and dream for you is that with a few changes, you’d be able express those two polarities with a phrase like, “It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.” I’ve seen that applied to nurses, soldiers, mothers and the Peace Corps. Why shouldn’t church workers join in? Sure, it’s hard. Jesus warned us about that. He said there’d be a price to pay. The cross can be heavy. But there is so much to love about serving as the Lord’s ambassadors of grace, His bearers of the love of Jesus Christ. Turning “hate it” to “love it!” will mean getting help. Every burden is easier to bear when the load is shared. Stay connected to peers. Find others who can come alongside and take some of your tasks. There’s joy to be found in teamwork and bearing one another’s’ burdens. Get your rest. Watch your diet. Make time for energizing activities and hobbies. Self-care is not selfish. When we’re at our best physically, emotionally and spiritually, we’re better prepared to face the frustrations and anxieties of ministry. And look for the joy. Joy comes from recognizing the beauty of the Lord’s mighty works in our humble acts of service. Step back and see the bigger picture. Lives are being changed and the kingdom of God is advancing because of you! Jesus reminds us that it’s like a plant growing. It’s often hard to see except by stepping back and taking a longer look, but it’s happening. And that’s a cause for joy. We’ll all have those times of “The best job you’ll ever hate.” Take those times as a reminder to take care of yourself so that the “best” rises back to the surface. I hope you’ll find the holiday this week to be a time of refreshment. Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.