Yesterday, we were privileged to have a guest blog post from Dr. Chuck Fuller. In his article, he talked a lot about the expectations and pressures of ministry. I greatly appreciate his honesty and I know a lot of us can relate. The fact is that no matter how much you enjoy what you do in ministry, expectations and pressures are lurking around every corner. In this quote, Dr. Fuller relates being a pastor to living in a pressure cooker.
“Being a pastor was like living in a pressure cooker with no time to cool down. Preaching, while pure joy, was also a grind. I felt like a rubber band that started being stretched on Monday, pulled to its limit by Saturday night, released all at once on Sunday, only to start again the next morning. As a leader, no matter how healthy the ministry appeared and how much the church progressed, I always perceived, pondered, and plotted the next challenge or that just-beneath-the-surface conflict.”
I would assume that each of us in ministry could personalize this paragraph. “Being a worship leader is like living in a pressure cooker with no time to cool down. Worship leading, while pure joy, is also a grind. I often feel like a rubber band that started being stretched on Monday…etc.” (Insert your area of ministry.) So why do we feel so much pressure in ministry? Dr. Fuller gives us the answer in the following sentence.
“Such are the realities of pastoral life, but one thing I have learned since I ceased being a pastor: the pressure was mostly self-imposed.”
There is no doubt that there is an “eternal weight” to the task of ministry. People all around us are on the broad road that leads to destruction. We should feel the enormity of knowing that our friends, family, and tribes in foreign lands are without Christ. However, most of the pressures that we feel (let’s be honest) are self-inflicted wounds over trivial matters. Dr. Fuller talked about being far too aware of other people’s expectations. As worship leaders, this can be something we fall into in a major way.
Is it possible that we try to make everybody happy but God? We wear ties, we don’t wear ties. Someone complains about how we do something, so we try to appease them. This person likes this style; this person doesn’t like that style. I wish we would use the organ more, another wishes we wouldn’t use the organ at all. These all sound like silly things but they are the issues that deep down are at the root of most of our frustrations. Instead of laboring for the kingdom, we are paralyzed by our fears, pressures, and the expectations of others.
So what is the remedy to these ministry pressures and frustrations? It’s really simple, but often overlooked. Find your satisfaction and delight in Jesus! Do what you know is commanded in His Word, spend time with Him, and don’t try to make everybody happy. Seek to make Him happy first! Make sure your relationship with the Lord, your spouse, and your children are up to par before you worry about ministry. I have a hard time remembering this but I like this…Christian first, husband second, father third, minister fourth.
Another bit of advice, don’t judge how successful your ministry is by how well the service went. Seriously, I’ve been there! I’ve felt like a failure before because we had technical issues and a song got sidetracked. I’m learning to not take myself so seriously.
Anything we accomplish in ministry is because of God. We can do nothing. He can do all things!
For more information on Anderson University College of Christian Studies click here.