What to do when ministry becomes a chore

Have you felt called by God to be involved in a ministry of some sort? Has God stirred in your heart to step up and teach a Sunday School class, lead a small group, or serve as a greeter? Perhaps you have volunteered or maybe you are in ministry as your full time job? I believe as Christians, we are all called to the great commisison:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

This will look a little different for each of us. We are all designed with our own unique gifts, talents and interests.

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8 NIV

There are many ways these gifts can be lived out, but the goal is to share Christ’s love with others. Then we draw them in to the body of Christ and help them grow. A ministry might be that initial introduction to Christ, or it might be a way to help a person grow in their faith.

So you feel called by God, accept the call, have the initial excitement and fears of what you are stepping into, get started and experience the blessing of serving Him. Then weeks or months pass by and you find yourself just going through the motions. You put the responsibilities on your to do list, check them off and feel accomplished, but something is missing in your heart. A grumbling attitude begins to develop as you think about what needs to get done. Your attitude is anything but thankful for the privilege of serving God. Instead, you sort of regret signing up or agreeing to be a part of such and such committee, team, or leadership role. You might even begin counting down the months or days until the responsibility is no longer yours.

I get it. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve been in a ministry rut. Accomplishing the tasks without my heart’s desire being to serve Christ. So what do you do? What does God desire when we serve Him?

You may hear me quote Chip Ingram a lot, but my husband and I have listened to him for 20 plus years on the radio – before podcasts were even a thing. We’ve also read his books and love his practical, God-centered wisdom. He says in his book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes,

“But those who dream of eternal impact in the kingdom of God, who envision crossing the finish line as one of God’s great saints, are motivated to do whatever it takes to be used powerfully by God.”

Yes! I want to be one of God’s great saints, and make eternal impacts for the kingdom of God! I think it goes back to our why. Why did I first initially say yes to God’s call? Was it to make myself look good? Was it to gain approval of others, or was it truly to serve our living God as a humble servant? When I remember that I deeply desire for others to know God and to help them grow in their relationship with Him, I can then think about my tasks as my mission to accomplish those goals.

It starts with me. I first need to read, study, and apply God’s Word in my life. I need to rest at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to fill me with His love, mercy and compassion. When I remember the mercy He’s given me, I am much more tolerant of the disobedient child that comes to Wednesday night church. I am able to see that boy with God’s eyes of compassion and understanding. When I think about God’s love for me, an undeserving sinner saved by His grace, this can propel me to persevere through the difficulties that arise in every ministry.

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve spent going through the motions, checking off my tasks. Help me remember all you did to save me. Bring me along in your grace and mercy, and allow me the privilege to serve you. May I do it in a way that honors you and brings you glory!

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14 NIV

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