Going into ministry can be overwhelming and scary. There are so many responsibilities and unknowns. There is also often very little guidance as to what to expect and how to handle certain situations should they arise. For new ministers, it can often feel like the burden of the world is on your shoulders. But this is not the minister’s burden to bear. Christ tells us, “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).
When I first started in ministry, I had wonderful mentors who helped to prepare me for what I was getting myself into. They offered me wisdom that I use every day in my ministry position. Here is some of what they taught me:
- You Cannot Please Everyone
As a minister, the only person you are responsible for pleasing is Christ Himself. When you go into ministry, you will eventually face conflict. Not everyone will be happy with every decision you make. As a people-pleaser, this is quite difficult for me. However, I had to come to the realization that even if I do everything right, there will be someone who thinks I did it wrong. That is okay. You are not responsible for making everyone happy. You are responsible for making disciples. While it is good to listen to feedback, not all feedback is created equal. Sometimes feedback is quite unhelpful. As ministers, we should let Scripture, prayer, and the counsel of mentors be our guide, not the opinions of others.
- You Are Not in it for the Money
If is no secret that most ministers do not get rich from their vocation. While some larger churches may pay very well, most churches simply do the best they can to provide for their ministers. If you go into ministry, be prepared to live a modest lifestyle. This is good discipline after the example of Christ. However, this does not mean you should allow your church to take advantage of you. A minister has a right to a livable wage. God’s people are called to look after one another. Do not feel guilty for looking for a position that pays a reasonable salary. This is not lack of faith and does not mean you are “making it about the money.” It simply means you are making an informed decision based on the options presented to you.
- Ministry is Not the Same as a Mission Trip
Mission trips can be spiritual highs. They can be wonderful experiences that reinforce our desire to serve the Lord. However, everyday ministry is very different from the often positive and uplifting experience of a mission trip. Ministry is working every day with difficult people and difficult situations and often with very little thanks or compensation. It is hard and often more challenging than rewarding. It is, however, worth it for the sake of the Kingdom.
- You Must Care for Yourself
Ministers, to lead others, must first care for themselves. It can be tempting to put others first so often that you forget yourself altogether. However, this does not do any favors to you or the people you serve. Even God rested. You should too.
- Find Support
In order to care for yourself as listed in the point above, it is imperative that a minister have a person or group of people that can counsel them and comfort them through the ups and downs of ministry. Ministry absolutely cannot be done alone. It takes a village. Build up a trusted community of people who understand what you are going through when times get tough and will not judge you but will still lead you in the way of Christ.
While this list cannot prepare a minister for everything that will happen in their ministry, it hopefully can serve as a good foundation for those who are looking to get started!