Pause for a minute and think of a job-related activity that is life-giving. Something that brings you pure joy when you’re engaged in it. Do you have something in mind? When was the last time that you did this? How many times have you done it in the past month?
If you’re like many of the ministry leaders that I’ve worked with, your answers to these two questions are “it’s been a while” and/or “not nearly enough.” That’s ironic, because our work is supposed to be life-giving for others, and that should be life-giving for us.
So why is this not the case? Why is it that many ministry leaders do not spend more time doing life-giving work? Here are three common reasons:
- They allow life-giving activities to be pushed to the side. This pattern emerges when mundane and administrative tasks fill a leader’s day. It’s the pastor who loves spending time one-on-one helping people take the next step of discipleship, but can’t remember the last time that actually happened.
- Activities that were once life-giving have become a burden. This may occur because God is shaping the person for something new, but it often happens when a frantic pace makes it impossible to enjoy anything. It’s the person who loved preaching, but now doesn’t have time to prepare and resorts too often to “Saturday night specials.”
- Problems are allowed to linger. Churches and ministries have a habit of ignoring problems rather than dealing with them. But those problems rarely go away on their own. Instead, they keep coming back, taking considerable time and emotional energy for the leader, and contributing to the previous two issues.
So what’s the solution? While it may not be easy, leaders need to get clear about what is life-giving for them, and then they need to prioritize this on their calendars. I’m not suggesting that leadership should always be fun and life-giving or that you shouldn’t spend time on administrative tasks. But if you’re not experiencing joy in some parts of your ministry, it won’t be life-giving for others and it may not be long before you leave ministry altogether.
This article originally appeared here.