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Lesson Five: Joy Is Fuel for Ministry!

Instant wellness assessment

I can assess your level of wellness for ministry in about two minutes. In my eight years at Grace Place Wellness, I’ve asked hundreds of pastors, “How are you?” After the initial pleasantries, and sharing a little about our ministry, I’ll often ask again, “Okay, tell me, seriously, how are you?” because I really do care. You’d be amazed how many pastors and church workers begin by talking about the stresses, anxieties and burdens of ministry. For some folks I visit with, that’s all they can talk about. Healthy ministers either begin with or very quickly switch gears to talk about the joy of being in the most blessed calling this side of heaven. In my opinion, Joy in Ministry is the number one indicator that a church worker is living a balanced, healthy life.

Joy Fuels Ministry

Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail (Acts 16) are the poster boys for joy in ministry. “After they had been severely flogged…” Luke tells us, they were locked in chains, then spent the night in songs of praise and thanksgiving. Joy is the fruit of the Spirit, planted deep in your soul, that comes from recognizing the presence of Jesus at work in peoples’ lives. Joy can come even when your circumstances are miserable. Ministry is the Way of the Cross and Overwhelmed is a way of life. Everyone in ministry needs a regular infusion of joy to keep going. Lives transformed by the gospel (including your own) are evidence of Jesus at work. An occasional glimpse of the Lord at work will fuel people like Paul and Silas and YOU to continue on in ministry in spite of the challenges and hardships.

Pay attention

The appropriate response to “Nice sermon, Pastor” is “That remains to be seen.” It’s often difficult to see the impact that your ministry of the Word has in the lives of people. It’s been getting even harder recently. Online worship and social distancing make it more challenging than ever to recognize the work that Jesus is doing by the power of his Word and Spirit. Like seeds planted in the soil, God’s Word is always at work. It’s just not always easy to see. And not seeing the results of ministry can be extremely frustrating for ministers. It’s important now more than ever to watch for, even seek out, and listen to stories of growth and transformation in the lives of people. Make a note of two or three people you could seek out for an encouraging conversation like that. Maybe even more importantly, take some time to pay attention to what the Lord Jesus is doing in your own life. How has the Lord’s Word of promise and hope filled you in recent days? Where have you seen answered prayer? That’s cause for joy. Where has the Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control made a difference in your life this week? I’ll send along a simple reminder in my Daily Blog this week to help your reflection. Thanks for reading. “Joy Is Fuel for Ministry” is Lesson Five in, “Reclaiming the Joy of Ministry: The Grace Place Way to Church Worker Wellness” a new book from Grace Place Wellness Ministries coming in January.