Originally published Thursday, 08 March 2012.
Dear Church Employees,
I totally knew what I was getting into when I began working at a church. Amazing normal workday hours, great pay and I could pack up at the end of the day and leave my work at the office...oh wait, that's not how it went.
You and me, we know ministry is not a 9-5 kind of job. It will often go home with you and we don't do it for the money. It's stressful, taxing and sometimes there are no end results due to the revolving door of people. There may even be moments when we wish we could just "not care" anymore. It's in our weakest moments that we dream of an "off" switch to the constant need for ministry.
But quite frankly, the effectiveness of ministry would suffer if we forced it to be that way.
But you probably already knew that.
You don't work at a church for the money. You don't work at a church for the hours. You work at a church because God has called you to it. You work at a church because you are passionate about the things of God and you want to be on mission to make sure the world knows about the love of Jesus.
Dear friend, I know your heart for people can so easily be overrun by feelings of burn out and stress. We could all add "and Human Relations" to the end of our job titles. As one who is highly emotional just on my own, I can attest that taking on the emotions of another human being at the height of their stress or depths of their anxiety can be anything but rewarding.
But that's just it: Ministry isn't about us. It's not about how we feel or what we see as fit or fair. It's not a normal job that comes with normal hours and achievements. Our definition of success lies not in numbers or goal charts, but rather in character transformation and healing lives. That's why it takes so much from us, because entire courses of family history and brokenness begins to heal and shift from meaningless to meaningful. People get to experience God, not just because of us, but because God saw it fit to use us in redeeming the world. (That's crazy right?)
It's normal to be discouraged, but fight to see the bigger picture.
It's normal to want to leave it all behind, but take one minute to remember a life that has been changed in your ministry.
It's normal to feel like you're working alone, but look around and see your co-workers who are probably feeling that same way. Encourage them.
It's normal to be tired, but remember that your Boss is the One who gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. I'm absolutely sure He's going to keep you going.
You are valuable and necessary because you help change lives, and no amount of money will every satisfy like that does.
David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
1 Chronicles 28:20
**If you're just joining us for this series, welcome! You can catch up on the earlier letters here > Dear Church | Letter One, Dear Church Attenders | Letter Two, Dear Pastors | Letter Three, Dear Pastor's Wives | Letter Four