I love pastors! I love their heart to care for others, to bring the Word of God to a hurting world. Pastors have a passion to see people set free from the pain of addictions, violence, hatred, fractured families, mental and emotional brokenness. I also know too many pastors and ministry leaders are hurting. Those with a calling to lead ministries that reach into this broken world, often have sensitive and caring hearts. They start out strong wanting to make a difference for the Lord, but soon the waves of ministry overwhelm them and before they know it they’re struggling to keep their heads above water, fearing drowning at any moment. Their lungs are stinging with the salt water of human brokenness and relational messiness. They scream out to the Lord; “Why God? Where are you? It wasn’t supposed to be like this! I’m just doing what you called me to.” How does a leader get to this point?
Anyone in ministry for any length of time knows the work is plentiful, and it’s not long before those in need will claw at the one trying to give them help. When a life guard dives in to rescue a drowning person, they know they have to grasp the person from behind and pull them to shore. If they get in front of the person, the victim will wrap their arms around the rescuer and in their struggle for survival pull the life guard under the water with them. This often happens in ministry! It doesn’t take long for the leader to struggle in saying, “no” and their schedule begins to fill up. They love people and want to help, but they cannot rescue everyone and before they realize it they are being pulled down by those they’re trying to help.
I believe Christian Leadership, while challenging doesn’t have to get to a place of exhaustion and burn out, when we do it Jesus’ way. “I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:29—30, MSG)
Over the next several blogs I will discuss five areas that when nurtured by Christian leaders, will help them to avoid the pitfall of exhaustion. Now, I’m not saying that if the Christian leader effectively nurtures each of these areas they will walk in complete harmony, never having struggles. That isn’t possible this side of Heaven. As long as we’re walking on this fallen earth we will deal with hardships. What I am saying is when the areas of our life are in harmony, we can find joy even in the suffering. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12 – 13 (NKJ).
My goal in writing these blogs is to help the Christian leader to find joy in the suffering but to also be sure they haven’t added suffering that the Lord never asked them to endure. I want to help leaders to take Jesus’ hand and walk alongside Him, being guided where He wants them to go, not their board, staff or congregation.