Randy Alcorn says, “A true Christ-centered church is not a showcase for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” If you’re in ministry, that makes you a spiritual healthcare provider. Gone are the days when problems were simple and the average family actually looked like Leave It to Beaver or Happy Days. People come to us with marriage problems, parenting problems, emotional problems, problems with health, education, and jobs. When people get saved, these problems don’t disappear. Messy lives cause problems with no easy solutions.
Our first concern is for our people, but we also need to watch what is happening in our own lives. If we aren’t careful, the problems of our people can rob us of joy in the ministry. How can we keep that from happening?
We need to listen to what people with needs are saying and, beyond that, to what they are feeling. We need to care about their problems. Sometimes that may mean giving advice, especially when they are ready to listen. Sometimes that may mean helping them. Sometimes we can’t fix their problems, but only be a sounding board and a friend. We can always pray with them or for them. But it doesn’t end there.
After we have listened, cared, helped, and prayed, we need to let it go. We care so much for our people that it’s easy for their problems to consume us. When that happens we have nothing left for others in need. I have learned that I need to keep myself strong to be able to help other people. I need to do things that keep me spiritually and emotionally strong year after year.
I need to cast all my care upon the Lord. (1 Peter 5:7) If my burden is on His back, it’s not on mine anymore. I can be free to enjoy a fun outing with my family when my friend’s family is in ruins. I can buy nice things for myself, within my own budget, while my friend cannot. I can, and should, think about fun, nice, pleasant things even when people around me are hurting. (Philippians 4:6-9) I can focus on God and his good gifts and not let my thought life be dominated by problems to the extent that it robs me of joy in the ministry.
I will post two more blogs about keeping joy in your ministry. What have you learned that keeps you from losing your joy over other people’s problems?