Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sometimes it just hurts

I've rubbed a blister on my toe. It happens fairly often with this particular toe, and it's usually very sore. But it will heal and for a while the discomfort will go away until the next time. I'm not sure there is much I can do about it because it's caused by the toe turning under the one next to it, so it gets trapped and compressed as I walk. It needs twisting out and straight really, but I think it's just a feature of my foot. So I bear the pain and carry on walking as much as I can.

Sometimes ministry just hurts too.

Every job, every role we have has its good days and its not so good days. I guess the thing with ministry is that so much of who you are is invested in what you do that the not so good days can sometimes feel like the sky is falling in and you can't do anything to stop it even though everyone seems to think you should.

It's the "no win" scenario.

Perhaps ministry needs a slogan like: No win, big personal fee!

Now please understand I'm not in some terrible place emotionally or spiritually, I'm just reflecting on the nature of ministry. I'm trying to draw you a picture of what it can be like. I've spent enough years listening to the "one day a week" jokes and the genuine questions about what I do, to know that it is a bit of mystery to those who look on from outside.

I'm not surprised by the drop out rate in ministry. It's a very lonely, isolating and difficult life to maintain. Just when you think you're doing it right, along comes some event or situation that knocks you sideways and you have to think it through all over again.

And then there are the times when you've done all you can, when you've been generous with your time and even your money and all you get in return is a torrent of accusations and abuse because you draw the line, you call a foul, and you are not thanked for it.

I've had that.

I've been told that because I won't loan someone money I'm responsible for breaking up their family and ruining their chances. I've been told that I just don't care enough because I haven't fixed someone's marriage that they were pushing to breaking point.

So sometimes ministry just hurts and all you can do is breathe slowly, pray consistently and drink deeply from the compassion and faithfulness of God.

I'm so grateful that unlike anyone else in an "ordinary" job, the measure of my effectiveness is ultimately done in eternity where the only thing that matters is God's "Well done, good and faithful servant". Other things are important, but this is the only one that really matters.

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