Ministering or Transacting? Recovering from Seasons of Struggle

10 May 2022

3.6 MINS

When you find yourself stumbling and struggling to serve in your vocation, it is time to re-focus on God and lean on His grace. Here are some steps to reignite your ministry.

Our family has had an interesting week, to say the least. It’s sparked some reflection, some readjusting and some steep learning curves.

There’s a link between the words ‘ministry’ and ‘administration’, so I looked up both definitions. Ministry is largely related to work done as a governing body — a government department, a religious body. Administration is to do with the accompanying actions of dispensing, giving or applying.

As Christians then, our serving (dispensing, giving, applying of God, through the person of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit), which is done under the governing power and authority of God — is ministry.

A bit like “and if I have not love, I am a clashing symbol, a resounding gong,” in this context, if we step out to do our ministry tasks apart from the governing power and authority of God, and we don’t serve in a way that reflects the character of God and the person of Jesus, and we don’t rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, it becomes an earthly series of transactions.

How easy is it though to find ourselves in this place? Seeking out quick-fix formulas, self-help processes and blogs offering simple solutions to complex issues, only seeing us descend into further confusion and frustration.

We must guard against this sort of safe living complacency, and if we do find ourselves in this situation and season of life, we should seek to lean into Wisdom — God Himself, as well as wise counsel from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Compassion fatigue. Burnout. Exhaustion. They are all very real realities for many people. Another common reality is when our vocation stops being a ministry, and becomes simply a job, or a transaction of services.

What can we do when we realise our hearts aren’t in our work anymore? (It is actually our/my losing sight of God’s heart — resulting in my actions no longer reflecting His character and desires.)

1. Pray for the restoration of God’s vision for you to be working here again.

Sometimes that’s all we need. A big bird poop has landed on our windscreen and we can’t seem to see the glorious call of the work because all we can see is, ah, not cool at all! A bit of a clean-up. A bit of fresh vision and our hearts are back in it.

2. Ask God to remind you why and how He placed you here.

Thinking back on the past can helpfully inform our future. It can also wreck us if we linger in the past in unhealthy ways. But if you view past events of God’s faithfulness and goodness in a way that informs your future, it can bring great joy after seasons of drought and sadness.

3. Are your heart and mind overflowing with God’s love and grace towards you?

We can’t give out of an empty void. We can’t minister the love and grace of God if we are apart from him and strangers to His present, active love and grace.

I see this in my mothering. If my heart is not centred around Him, enjoying Him, you can guarantee my mothering is gloomy and painful to endure. But when my heart is full and overflowing with Him, mothering is much more of a joy, and when I’m bumped through the inconveniences I face through the day, what spills out is Jesus, not ugly Erin.

I sat in church today exhausted and unsettled. The words “adore Him” from the songs we were singing, kept echoing in my heart. Do I really adore Him, my Lord and Saviour? Or do I just desire that others would adore Him? I realised my focus has shifted over time from Him alone, Christ Himself, to being about helping others adore Him. I needed to refix my gaze, because the best way to encourage others to adore Him, is to first genuinely adore Him myself, first.

Psalm 34:5-8
“Those who look to Him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

4. Is your financial compass orientated towards faith?

If we are worrying about our bills and where the next dollar will come from, we are more likely to approach our work primarily to ‘make another dollar’, we are more likely to be dishonest or give in to the temptation to be dishonest to make sure we can pay our bills.

But if we have our financial compass orientated towards faith, we can rest in Him that He will provide and we can go about our work directing our resources to God’s values — people and integrity! We can afford to be generous givers, because we know (and adore!) the most generous Giver of all.

Psalm 37:25-28
“I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake His faithful ones.”

I pray this may bless and encourage you as you read.


Originally published at Ephraim House.

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