Each Morning in Ministry
Every morning of your ministry, you wake up to something. You wake up to a knot in the pit of your stomach at the remembrance of some painful pastoral crisis the night has not taken away. You wake up to feeling overwhelmed and overburdened by your responsibilities. You wake up to the feeling of being underappreciated, undervalued, and misunderstood. Or you wake up to bits and pieces of all of these things, but with something that overwhelms them all. You wake up to a deep motivating sense of identity and place.
I can remember sitting on my bed in the dark after returning home exhausted and a bit overwhelmed from a ridiculously long elder and deacon meeting. I didn't know if it was me or the church, but ministry seemed harder than I thought it was going to be. And it seemed nearly impossible to be the husband and dad I was supposed to be and accomplish what I had been called to do as a pastor. I wanted to jump off the treadmill, but I knew I couldn't. I look back on that moment and know that I did not need a new ministry location or schedule. I needed the gospel. In remembering to do all that I had been called to do, I had forgotten who I was and where I was in God's plan.
Do you remember your identity and your place in ministry? Does it comfort and motivate you?
First, remember that you are never on your own because the One you represent is an ever-loving and ever-faithful Father. He knows exactly what you need and has covenantally committed himself to meeting each one. You can bring your cares to your Father knowing that you will never be rejected because he really does care for you.
You also need to remember that between the "already" and the "not yet" you have been blessed right here, right now, with enabling grace. Each morning as you awake to your ministry, God blesses you with new mercies formfit for the issues of the day. He knows you are not independently up to the task, so he daily blesses you with his empowering grace.
But there is more. You don't have to drag into the new day the paralyzing burden of yesterday's sin, weakness, foolishness, and failure. You don't have to fear what will be exposed next. You don't have work to portray to yourself and others a person you're not. You can be genuine and honest about places where you need to grow. You've been blessed with forgiveness that allows the next day to be a new day, free from the guilt of yesterday. His forgiveness allows you to own your sin, learn your lessons, and move forward with faith and joy.
Burden of a King
Along with these blessings, you can rest in the reality that there is a King, and he is not you. You don't have to work yourself into a position of ministry sovereignty. You don't have to shoulder the burdens of a king. You don't have to construct your own kingdom, because God has given you his kingdom, which he perfectly rules for his glory and your good. When it all looks like chaos, remind yourself that things are out of your control, but never beyond his.
As you're remembering your King, require yourself to count the innumerable blessings in your life that you neither deserve nor could have earned. Meditate on all the blessings you daily enjoy that provide empirical evidence, not of your righteousness, but of the faithful zeal of his grace.
Finally, remind yourself that God's power is too awesome, his zeal too strong, and his plan too great for you to ever thwart it. His plan will march on until his final kingdom has come and his complete will has been done. Yes, you can mess up and momentarily complicate your ministry. But in the middle of the mess it is important to remember that what you've staked your life and ministry on is never at risk because unshakeable divine zeal is behind it all.
So wake up tomorrow, remember, and smile. Yes, the challenges of ministry are many and burdensome, but the One who has sent you has gone out with you because he wouldn't think of calling you to represent him and then leave you on your own.