Recapture joy in your ministry by focusing on these 3 things

March 10, 2021

As a young pastor, I was encouraged to never make any major decisions on a Monday. The reason was simple — often pastors are not experiencing a lot of joy on Mondays.

However, when do you make decisions when all the other days feel like Mondays?

In my experience, this loss of joy was a slow drift. The joy didn’t leave all at once, the gaps just widened between the moments of joy. Finally, I found myself thinking about walking away from a calling in which I had invested many years, a lot of effort and most importantly, a commitment to God. I can only imagine how this feeling may be amplified by pastoring in the midst of a pandemic.

The good news is that Christ revealed to me the path back to a ministry filled with joy. My joy was not taken from me or stolen as we often say. The truth be known, I simply gave it away little by little as I allowed the busyness and seemingly urgent ministry to draw my attention and affection away.

I feel my journey is a common path walked by many pastors. My calling is to help pastors fulfill the call on their lives with joy and effectiveness. We can recapture joy by being spiritually and emotionally healthy disciples, who have a proper view of God, themselves and family.

Following are ways we can acknowledge and grow in these three areas.

Proper view of God
The first area we must protect in order to joyfully fulfill our calling to pastoral ministry is our personal worship and devotion. I am reminded of how Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6 and how it radically changed him as he saw how desperate he was for Him. I had lost sight of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus in Luke 10. I had let the cry of many good things draw me away from what my soul needed most — Jesus.

As you live out the calling God has extended to you, be diligent at carving out time for your personal relationship with Jesus. In order to be effective in your ministry, you must be effective in the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer and listening to God.

In the busyness of ministry — especially amid a pandemic — have we allowed ourselves to falter in our spiritual disciplines? What changes do you need to make in your schedule this week to make these things a priority?

In my experience, this loss of joy was a slow drift. The joy didn’t leave all at once, the gaps just widened between the moments of joy.

Proper view of ourselves
In addition to a proper view of God, we must have a proper view of ourselves. Technology is a great tool for the proclamation of the gospel. The internet allows people the opportunity to listen to the best proclaimers in the world. And that is a great thing. The downside is that pastors can begin to compare ourselves to others and begin to feel inferior. We easily forget that God has created us uniquely and specifically to accomplish the good work He has for us.

Understanding how God has gifted us allows us to be more effective at the work He has for us. When we understand the areas that are not our strengths, we can surround ourselves with volunteers or staff who can help us in that particular area. This self-awareness also provides a lens to look through when making decisions about investing our time and efforts. When we are sure of who we are and what Christ has called us to do, we can experience great freedom and confidence in ministry.

Do you really know who God has created you to be in Him? Can you verbalize the purpose He has for you? Do you have the personal clarity to intentionally lean into His purpose for your life and ministry?

Proper view of family
Finally, it’s vitally important to have a proper view of your family. Pastor, your first task in shepherding is to shepherd and care for your wife and family. I was so fortunate to have several pastors encourage me early on to make my family a priority. It’s heartbreaking to see a pastor struggle with marriage issues or children who resent the church because it took their father away from the family so often.

Pastor, keep the proper order in your ministry. What is that proper order? God, wife, children and then the church. One way to make this happen is to put your family time on your calendar and protect that time. Don’t let every little thing that needs to be done draw you away from time with your family.

Are you sacrificing your family on the altar of your church? Your relationships within the church will only reach their greatest potential when relationships at home are flourishing.

There is great joy to be found in pastoral ministry when we have these priorities in line. If you feel you have lost your joy in ministry, take some time to evaluate each of these things in your own life. We can recapture joy by being spiritually and emotionally healthy disciples who lead with joy and effectiveness.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a four-part series on how pastors can lead well. Here are other articles in the series: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

by Sandy Marks  
Church Health and Revitalization  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Board affirms Unzicker as EDT nominee

Todd Unzicker, chief of staff at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, has been nominated by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) board of directors to become the next executive director-treasurer of the state convention. The board voted to approve Unzicker’s...

4 kinds of pastors whose churches need revitalizing

Revitalization is one of those things pastors Google when no one else is looking. As I travel across the state, I meet pastors who minister in a variety of contexts — rural, urban, small, large, plants and even replants. Some of these pastors know their church is in need of...

5 ways pastors should respond to setbacks in ministry

Things don’t always turn out the way we desire. Oftentimes, we find ourselves asking questions about why something happened, or why we didn’t see it coming. We wonder why God allowed it or have difficulty seeing how God’s plan is being accomplished through it. Phrases such as...

How families can adopt a family discipleship plan

Many parents have made 2021 the year of discipleship for their family. They have taken the challenge and implemented the “Family Discipleship Plan” in their homes. Moms and dads have made this a priority because they know they have been given the wonderful privilege of being the...

Why leading your child to Christ is a process, not just a prayer

I remember praying a prayer at age 5. As a Cubby in the Awana program at our church, I was slightly intimidated by the leader who took me into the darkened chapel and asked me if I wanted to go to heaven to be with Jesus. I didn’t know what that meant. I may have asked a few...

3 steps to being missional in your community

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with heightened racial and political tensions, have sparked massive conflicts throughout our state and nation in the last year and a half. However, in the midst of the chaos, families have a unique opportunity to be missional in their homes and...

God’s presence provides comfort in times of transition

“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions!” These words by the late William Bridges, who was a leading authority on organizational leadership, have been ringing in my mind throughout the last year. When our country went into lockdown due to the pandemic, it was an...

Students: An untapped resource for serving in your church

I’ve heard it said that students are the church of tomorrow, but I really struggle with that — I believe students are the church of today and the future church leaders of tomorrow. Students need adults who love Jesus, love them and take the time to disciple them. They need...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!