The Dangerous Business of Ministry
Did you know that taking on a ministry role is the most dangerous assignment you could take?
When you dedicate your life to bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ, evil dedicates its energy to making sure you fail. It is a spiritual battle you are signing up for. It is common for the focus of ministry preparation to be academic. Pastors and ministry leaders step into churches and non-profit organizations loaded with apologetics, sermon prep skills, and strategic planning tools. Satan, demons, angels, and the spiritual realm feels fantastical and on occasion is subtly acknowledged. This unbalanced perspective of intellectualism and spirituality has resulted in a career path with high turnover. Burnout, church splits, infidelity and sex scandals, embezzlement, lost or uninspiring faith, addiction – these things are happening to our pastors and ministry leaders at alarming rates.
Certainly these people did not envision themselves in these situations as they sat down in their first seminary class or had their first day as a youth pastor. So what’s happening?
The journey to a ministry position takes on many forms but for most it starts with a dream. A desire to share with others the life changing impact of encountering God. This can happen at a very young age or come at a pivotal moment later in life. However it happens, the initial dream and current reality can look very different. Hardly anyone at the beginning of their ministry calling thinks about the fact that they will, in essence, be running a business. There probably isn’t much thought about salary, weekly staff meetings, budgets, conversion rates, and strategic planning teams. No church divisions have occurred yet or menacing emails sent. There’s just the sweet dream. The vision of the work God has in store for you. The adventure. Some of us get seminary trained and others don’t. No matter what path we take to that ministry position, there is something waiting for you: spiritual warfare.
I know spiritual warfare is talked about… but is it really? There’s nice imagery around it and at times throughout the year, if the topic fits or the verse comes around, we’ll get that reminder that we are dealing with not only the physical world, but the spiritual, as well. We’ll remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” But do we really believe it?
What we believe is shown by our actions.
There is a temptation to lose ourselves in ministry. In a sense, we feel so privileged to have been accepted by a church to do ministry that we feel we must do whatever task is being handed to us. This leads to men and women working not one role but four. Calendars are full with ministry focused activities, meetings, and administrative chores. A night to oneself seems luxurious… almost wrong. A weekend to oneself is extravagant. And plus, if you actually get a weekend off, that’s for family, right? How about a week off? Certainly that’s the time for a family vacation… or maybe wrapping up a dissertation. What about a month off? What other back burner items or people could possibly be crammed into that amount of time? The possibilities are endless.
And where is God in all this? The One who sparked your desire to be on this journey in the first place? Is He still active or are you just fine strategically planning on your own? He got you here and you’ll finish it out.
And what on earth do you do with the anxiety, depression, lustful thinking, emptiness, and loneliness bubbling under the surface of your distracted, task-oriented self? What if you hit pause for even an hour? What would come up? That stuff is better left untouched.
Who could you confide this too anyways? You’re at the top of the spiritual leadership team. If you’re at the end of yourself and struggling with doubt, what happens to all the people under you? What happens to your church brand?
Spiritual warfare happens every day, every night, throughout your whole life. Evil has no need for rest. If the most dangerous assignment you can take is a ministry position, then certainly it can be the most rewarding, as well. Choosing to pay attention to the spiritual battle taking place gives you the opportunity to encounter God in a way that not many will get to experience.
The decisive action to step into the spiritual journey by looking inward and reaching outward is a choice that will change your life. It will change the life of others. It is in this journey that you will encounter God and find out what ministry can be like when done under Him and not in our own strength.
There are many stories of ministry burnout. Ministry leaders are walking away from their faith, leaving church jobs to find another career, pouring life into others while feeling empty inside, living in misery and allowing sin to have power over them, neglecting their families, and feeling the need to become something they’re not.
If you’re struggling with burnout and looking for healing, Desert Road Ministries has space for you. This ministry was designed specifically for you. We are here to meet you where you are. There is nothing you need to hide.
If you have seen other ministry leaders experience burnout and want to prevent that from happening to you, we also are here for you. Spiritual bottoms are part of life, but there are tools you can practice to utilize spiritual highs and lows. These experiences can grow your faith instead of diminish it.
Desert Road Ministries offers a Ministry Burnout Prevention and Recovery Program.
Our team is made of people who have been through it. We know what burnout, doubt, and ministry wounds feel like. We have encountered God through the dark nights and come out the other side in freedom and joy. We’d like to share with you what God has taught us and see what God has in store for your life.
Contact us to see how Desert Road Ministries can support you!