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Lesson Three: Overwhelmed Is a Way of Life for Ministers

Feeling small

Ministry has a way of humbling you, of making you feel very small. I wonder how small Abram felt when the Lord took him out under the stars and said, “I can make billions of stars. Trust me when I say I can make a baby for you and your wife.” In the face of the ministry tasks before you, you shouldn’t be surprised if you feel pretty small sometimes. The harvest field spreads to the horizon and beyond. The Sundays keep coming every seven days (with the occasional mid-week service thrown in!) The work of the kingdom spreads to every corner of the globe. Every encounter with people has eternal significance. If you’re not feeling overwhelmed, you’re not paying attention. For people in ministry, overwhelmed is a way of life.

Keeping perspective

I begin each day in the Psalms. In every Psalm, there’s either something that describes the enormity, mystery and awe of God, or something that reminds me how frail, small and temporary I am. Most Psalms have both. Psalms help me keep perspective. There is a God; I’m not him. “Forgive me; fill me; bless me; send me. Let’s go, Jesus.” Begin my day. God has called you to work the harvest in your little acre. He’ll be present in your less than perfect sermon with his perfect grace. You’re called to know and impact your neighborhood the best you can. There’s a word of hope for everyone you meet. Today. Today. This week. Your neighborhood. Your corner of the kingdom is plenty overwhelming enough.

“I will build my church.”

It’s natural to want to be the power saw used to cut every piece of lumber as Jesus builds his Church. Who wouldn’t want to be the cement truck, or the hammer that drives every nail? “I want to help, Lord! There’s so much to do. Use me to do something amazing!” Well, you’re not the saw, or the hammer, or the level, or the trowel. But you are the glove on the hand of the Master Builder.

Remember who you are

Overwhelmed is good, because it keeps us small, and small is useful. When the building project is completed, you’ll sometimes see a bronze or chrome plated shovel or hammer made into a plaque to honor those who worked so hard to finish the monumental effort. By that time the gloves are feeling pretty worn through, over-used, abused and generally forgotten in the bottom of the tool box. But the gloves have known the wonder, the joy, of the Master’s hands. The heart of church worker wellness is remembering that the imprint of the Master’s hand is upon us. In baptismal grace he made us his own. In the outpouring of his Holy Spirit, we’ve been gifted and called. And as he builds his church, he chooses to use us as the gloves on his hands. We’re thankful for your faithful service. And thanks for reading. “Overwhelmed Is a Way of Life” is Lesson Three 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.