Part 2 – What has surprised me about ministry?
It is a challenging but exciting thing to look back on one’s first year of ministry. There are some really fond memories but also some awkward moments where I am embarrassed to remember how badly I have put my foot in it. When you leave theological college you have a rough idea of what life in vocational ministry will look like. In my case I had done a ministry apprenticeship at my home church and been a student minister in two churches as I studied at Moore. Even though I thought I knew what I was getting myself into there have been some surprise. Here are some of the surprises in no particular order:
I love what I do
This is probably the biggest surprise. I really, really love what I do. Some times I do have to pinch myself that people are freeing me up to serve in this way. There are so many things that I love about what I do. I love that I get to meet with people to read the Bible and pray. I love that I get to teach people from God’s word. There is nothing like seeing a light switch on in someone’s eyes as they realize a gospel truth for the first time or reflect that they see themselves growing. Seeing people grow is one of the most exciting things to experience.
As an extrovert, I almost broke the Myers Briggs extroversion scale, I love that I get to spend my days with people. I get to share in people’s lives. I get to rejoice when they rejoice, I weep when they weep. I get to see people grow in their love and knowledge of God and his people. It is a great privilege to have this access into peoples lives. Although some days are hard, and even I have found myself peopled out on some days, there is a real joy in serving God and seeing my whole life as mission.
There is a lot of admin in ministry
This shouldn’t be that surprising as ministry is about people. With people serving, Bible study groups operating, people to meet with and events to organize a lot of coordination is required. It requires a lot of emails, phone calls, texts and sometimes Facebook. Someone once reflected that every Sunday a church is effectively coordinating a miniature event a week. If you are part of a bigger church this event is not that miniature. Church requires lots of coordination of people and these people themselves are living busy lives. A battle I am learning to fight is to not let admin consume me and remember that my vocation is about people and not emails.
People can be unbelievably generous
This shouldn’t come as a surprise but sometimes this year I have found peoples generosity so overwhelming that it has brought me to tears. This year I have been touched by peoples financial generosity, the use of their time and their willingness to use their skill sets to serve. Most overwhelming is when you meet up with people and they tell you that they have been praying for you and your ministries. It is a truly humbling experience.
There are disappointments
As in any vocation there are disappointments and ministry is no different. Somethings in ministry can cut quite deeply. Disappointment can be the result of something I myself have said or done or a decision made by someone I minister to. Sometimes you feel the disappointment for someone else.
Rico Tice in Christianity Explored talks about getting our expectations correct. The parable of the Sower shows that we should expect disappointment. Even though I know I should expect disappointment it still hurts. But even though it hurts the disappointments have reminded me to trust in the sovereignty of God and turn to him in prayer.
It is all about Jesus
I think I might be cheating with this point as it is not that I have been surprise in ministry that it is all about Jesus but rather I am surprise how often I have found myself being reminded of this or needing to be reminded of this. Being a minister isn’t about me. It is not about my ego or what I love doing or what I have achieved. It is about trying to follow Jesus each and everyday and pointing the people God puts in my life to Him. This is a good thing to be surprised by each day. And the way I am reminded of this truth is reading God word each and every day and committing all things to Him in prayer. And although it shouldn’t be, maybe this is the surprise, that spending time with God each day reminds you that ministry of all types is all about Jesus.