I promised some further reflections on ministry and I’m
often struck by the way ministry makes me tired. This may say more about me
than about the nature of ministry because the things that enthuse or energise
people vary, as do the things which drain you. Neither is this to suggest that
ministry is more tiring than other occupations or vocations, I don’t believe it
is. Nevertheless there are some aspects of ministerial life that left
unchecked, can suck the life out of you.
Physically: Late nights and early mornings often mean that
you are on the go for long periods of time. While the total number of hours you
put in may not be huge regularly working over a 16 hour day takes stamina.
Spiritually: There is a presumption that ministers must be
spiritual, giving lots of time to studying the Scriptures and to prayer.
However, it is easy to fall into the pattern of only praying or reading
Scripture in order to prepare sermons etc. Whilst that is not necessarily bad,
most of the Bible study I do is connected to preaching, it can easily lead to
an erosion of the soul journeying with God.
Emotionally: It is a joy and privilege of ministry to be
party to peoples’ lives at key moments, being with people facing death,
rejoicing at the birth of a child, handling the pain of marriage breakdown or
facing the uncertainty of redundancy. Yet such conversations don’t leave you
unmoved or untouched, particularly if you have several such encounters in a
day. Preaching is also great fun, but Sunday services and the like use adrenaline
and you can only be an adrenaline junkie for so long before you hit the wall.
Ministry is of course a marathon not a sprint; it is a call
to serve the risen Lord not to be the purveyor or producer of religious
techniques. If the glory of God is a life well lived we need to give as much attention
to nurturing our souls as we do to anything else.