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Lesson Six: Ministry Threatens the Joy of Life with God

“Don’t Try This Alone.”

That was Lesson Four on the journey to wellness for church workers. We need each other. But even more than each other, we need the Lord. The tragedy of a life in ministry is that so many ministers work so hard and get so busy doing the Lord’s work that they forget about the Lord! There’s an alarming trend that’s beginning to be researched: church workers who retire and say that they no longer have faith in God. It’s not uncommon to hear graduates from the seminary remark how surprised they were to discover that a few years in the seminary studying theology was so damaging to their faith life. There’s a constant danger of professionalizing the study of scripture. It’s the danger of studying the Word for information, instead of humbly welcoming the Word and receiving it for our own formation.


I often asked the leaders at our church, “If you were the devil, set on destroying the ministry of our church, where would you take your first shot?” They and I agreed that the Pastor, as soon as he took office, became the primary target for the spiritual warfare that is always raging and active in church life. “Don’t try this alone” meant that I coveted the prayers of the people. “Don’t try this alone” was also their advice to me. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). The Spirit’s gift of joy comes in response to the wonder of watching the Lord himself build the house. It’s a dangerous idolatry when church workers assume the credit that belongs only to the Lord.

Life with God

After Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, they returned very excited about the miracles they had seen. “Even the demons submit to us in your name,” they reported. Ministry can be a source of great joy. But Jesus warned the disciples not to rejoice in their work of ministry as much as they rejoice in the work that God was doing in their own lives. “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Life with God is simply walking by faith, a faith nurtured by the Word of the Lord on a daily basis. God’s Word has a way of keeping our relationship in the proper perspective. I love the Psalms each morning especially because there is something in every Psalm that declares how small I am and how great God is. It’s a great way to start the day, keeping life with God in perspective.


A wise man once said, “If your output exceeds your input, your upkeep will be your downfall.” The output of a life in ministry will drain you. Time in the Word of God will sustain you. It’s God’s input. Thanks for reading. “Ministry threatens the Joy of Life with God” is Lesson Six 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.