A missionary wanted to meet with me recently to ask me about ministry. He told me he wanted to know what pastoral ministry is like. One of the first questions he asked me is this:
What is the hardest thing about pastoral ministry that is also the most important?
Here’s what I told him.
Second Corinthians 12:15 says, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” (KJV/NKJV)
You must pour your whole self into ministering to the people that God has given into your care. This means not only the ones who have attend that church for years or who give a lot, but also the ones who just arrived and the ones who have nothing to give and can do nothing for you in return.
You must pour yourself into this ministry knowing full well that sometimes you will give and give and give and get little or nothing in return.
You must pour yourself into this ministry knowing full well that some will betray you, abandon you, mistreat you, and some may even end up hating you even though you have done nothing to deserve such mistreatment.
You must pour yourself into this ministry in faith, believing that God will use you. And during the times when you really do make an impact in someone’s life or someone’s family, and you know that you’ve really done something for the kingdom, enjoy it and remember that you probably did this other times, too, but just didn’t know it.
You must pour yourself into this ministry remembering that your Lord, who called you, was a servant (Phil. 2:7) who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). So if you’re serving faithfully (1 Cor. 4:2) then you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and if you’re not serving faithfully, then you’ve departed from the right path.
If you can’t do this, then don’t go into pastoral ministry.
If you’re in ministry and don’t think you can do this anymore, then leave the ministry.
No matter what happens, no matter what you endure, remember that your Lord is watching over you, has gone before you, and will reward you.
Your Lord is not looking for the best, the most articulate, the flashiest, the one with the most charisma, the one whose church grows the fastest, or anyone who measures up to any standard we can set or that the world can set.
Your Lord is looking for faithful servants. So be one of those.