Shortly before we were married, Ellen and I led a group of young people from our church on a winter retreat. The guest speaker was Jon Peterson and his wife Mindy. They would go on to lead the YWAM base in Amsterdam. That was a long time ago. I don’t know what Jon is doing today but I do remember one sentence that he said to Ellen and I. Jon said, “Mindy and I decided long ago that we weren’t going to let the ministry kill us.” Think of it…almost thirty years ago and I still remember that.
I believe Jesus is worth dying for. I believe my family is worth dying for. There might be one of two others that I would die for but, unless I’m sure I’ve been called to be a martyr, I don’t think it’s worth it to let the church kill me.
Have you ever felt like a part of you was dying within? Have you ever said, “This is killing me.” in relation to your ministry? If not…I’m happy for you. But I know I’ve felt this way and I know that many of those reading this article have or do feel this way. Now if you feel like God has called you to die for your church then suck it up and die with honor. If, however, you’re not quite sure you’ve been called to “death by church” then you have two options.
First, you could quit…but that’s probably not what God is asking of you. It could be…but probably not. So that leaves you with one more option. Something has to change, either in your church or with you or both. Something has to change or you’re going to die…maybe not literally, but something in your soul will die. Without change you will become something less than what you started out as. You will become less happy, less content, less patient, less joyful. You will love less, serve less, like people less. You will be less of a husband/wife, less of a parent, less of a friend. You will minister out of the “less” when effective pastoring requires ministering out of the “more.”
You might not be the most objective one to diagnose what it is that’s causing your slow death. You might need some help. Call a close, respected friend in the ministry…someone outside of your church. Maybe you have a supervisor in your denomination you could talk to. Maybe you know a good counselor that specializes in ministers. Contact me and say…”This is killing me, can you help?” I can help.
Unless you’re sure you’ve been called to be a martyr don’t let the ministry kill you. Reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org