Do you ever feel overwhelmed in ministry? Maybe you minister in a small church and there never seems to be enough people to do all the jobs that need to be done. You know you need to balance family life, ministry, and other priorities in your life, but everything you do seems important. What can you leave out?
I’ve been a missionary pastor’s wife for 45 years so I’ve lived through many seasons of life. Language school with small children, starting churches and raising a family in a very foreign culture, a revolving door ministry in America, ups and downs in a church which has turned very international. Now my husband and I are drawing close to retirement and working to help our church transition from missionary pastor to local pastor. With each season of life, I’ve needed to evaluate what I could contribute to ministry and what God is leading me to do. I’ve learned that I change and my energy level changes. Church needs change. My ministry needs to change as well.
A small church has many jobs that need to be done. Some may not be visible to the average church attender, but if no one does them, problems develop. Here are some of the jobs in our church:
- watching the nursery
- cleaning the church
- ordering and organizing the Sunday School curriculum
- setting up for communion
- cleaning out the craft closet
- deep cleaning the church kitchen
- teaching a class
- greeting visitors, asking them to sign the guest book, giving them church literature
- leading games for kids’ club
- providing transportation to church for those who need it
- bringing refreshments for various church activities
- mowing the lawn
- providing music for church services
- tending the garden, spraying weeds, and pruning trees and shrubs
- passing out church fliers in the community
- pushing trash cans to the curb on trash collection days
- church maintenance
- providing childcare for a single mom
- picking up kids who live a long way from church
- counseling a needy person
- serving as a church officer
- directing a Christmas program
- speaking to ladies’ groups
- talking to people before and after services
Make you tired just thinking about it?
Maybe you are doing many of these jobs and some other ones beside and you feel overloaded. You see jobs that need to be done and wonder if you should add them to your already heavy load. How do you sort through the needs and find God’s will for you? I’ve found these 6 questions help me to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”
Am I gifted in this area?
God may want you to do a particular job because you are especially gifted in that area. God equips us with gifts and skills so we can serve him in special ways. Serving God in an area that you can do well and are passionate about brings a special sense of fulfillment. Feeling fulfilled in God’s service in an amazing feeling, but it doesn’t always mean God is leading you to do a job, just because it matches your gifts and skills. On the other hand, God does give us the skills we need to do his work. When your skills match church needs, God may be nudging you to meet those needs.
Could the Lord be asking me to grow in this area?
Maybe a church job is outside your comfort zone. You’re scared to do it, but it needs to be done. Maybe God wants you to step out and try this new job. If it really doesn’t work out, at least you would have tried. You would have learned to trust God more in the process. At the end of that time, you would know this isn’t a job God has for you and you could look for someone else to do it. But new things are often hard in the beginning. In the process of learning a new job, God may be growing you in a new area in which you can serve him.
Is this job something that just needs to be done and I can do it?
In a small church lots of jobs need doing and there are seldom enough people to do them. You might find a certain job just needs to be done. You can do it and there is no one else who can or will do it. God needs servants who are ready to do whatever is needed. Since you see the need, maybe you need to be the one to meet that need.
Is this job something that only I can do?
You might be the only person in your church that can play the piano, lead a puppet team, or decorate for a special event. If this is something that needs to be done, God may be directing you to do it because you are able. You may need to ask someone else to relieve you of another job so that you can do the thing that no one else can do. Many jobs can be done by nearly anyone, so if there is one thing that is really important, and only you can do it, that may be a clue that God is leading you to do it.
What job does someone else need to be doing?
You might be gifted in a certain job so no one else is doing it. But what if you taught someone else to do it? That would double the people who could do it and provide a back-up person for when one of you is sick. Maybe another person sees you doing it and feels she can’t do it as well as you. As long as you keep doing it, probably no one else will volunteer. But God may want you to step aside so someone else can serve in this way. In the beginning, that person may not do as good a job as you could. Maybe she never will. But serving in a different way might enable her to grow in a new area. Your skill and willingness could be blocking others from learning new ways to serve the Lord.
What job doesn’t need to be done at all?
As years go by, churches often keep adding programs, but never take any away. People seem to get busier every year and can resent the expectations churches have for them and their families. Maybe a certain program has worked well in the past, but you just can’t find people to run it. Maybe you’re running it, but you are running on fumes. You know that exhaustion is crouching nearby, ready to pounce on you, disabling you at a critical time in your life and ministry. Something’s got to go. That’s one time to re-evaluate the jobs and programs in your church and see if you need to drop something. Sometimes the must-have programs we try to maintain are not as necessary as we think.
Ministry is a privilege. Serving God is a blessing. But we all need to follow God’s leading for our lives and find the correct balance between ministry, family life, and other priorities. May God help you find that balance as you serve him today.