Reading time: two minutes. You’re called. God has work for you to do in HIS amazing work of advancing the kingdom of Christ. You’re gifted. You have a unique, God-given and God-powered mix of spiritual gifts, experiences, passions and abilities that the Lord will utilize for His purposes. You prayed this morning, “If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me why.” Today is a day to live out your calling, your vocation in ministry. But sometimes ministry is hard. Sometimes very hard. Today we want to do a quick scan of your vocational wellbeing. What’s gotten off track that makes living out your calling in Christian ministry so hard? Three indicators that you may have gotten side-tracked in ministry could be that the joy of a life in ministry seems absent, your level of creativity has diminished and the work of ministry has gotten just plain hard. Let’s start with joy. To me, this is the most frightening of the warning signs. It’s the difference between Elijah who collapsed under the broom tree and wanted to die (1 Kings 19) and Paul and Silas, beaten, chained and thrown in jail, singing praises to God all night long! (Acts 16) If the joy is gone, it might be time to reconnect with the God of joy through a mini-retreat. Find a way to take a half day, or even a couple of hours to be alone in the presence of the Lord. Bring your Bible. Turn to some of your favorite scriptures of encouragement and hope. Revisit the journey whereby the Lord called you into ministry. What were your guiding scriptures? Who were your encouragers? Reflect on ways the Lord has blessed your humble offering of imperfect ministry endeavors. Who would sidle up next to you and say, “I want to thank you for the blessing you’ve been in my life”? And then take some time to quietly let God love you with the forgiveness and mercy and grace that is yours because you are in Christ. Maybe creativity has deserted you. For me, that was always a sign of exhaustion. Take a nap. Read some poetry. Take another nap. Get to bed early once or twice this week. Listen to some music. Refresh your body, your heart and your mind, then relax and pray for the Spirit’s gift of creativity. And when ministry seems just plain hard, do what you can to return to your getta’s, those aspects of your job assignment that are in your giftedness wheelhouse, the things that bring you the most joy and are easier for you because they come more naturally. We all have to deal with the gotta’s, of our job responsibilities, but it’s the getta’s that re-invigorate us. When Jesus talked to the disciples about fruitfulness, he talked about joy. Look it up in John 15:1-17. You were made for joy. I’m praying for your renewed joy in the wonderful privilege you have of serving in the greatest vocation in the world! Thanks for reading.