Understanding what's not your job as a pastor will protect you from a world of disappointment and shame.
Is anyone else feeling the weight of ministry right now?
COVID conditions have many of us feeling overwhelmed, and if your church is like my church, you’re probably seeing about 20-30% in-person attendance compared to pre-COVID.
That’s okay if the rest of your people are watching online. But if your church is like my church, they’re not.
You’re probably seeing a drop in engagement–a significant chunk of people who used to be part of your church are no longer engaging with your church.
Is anyone else feeling the weight of ministry right now?
It feels like pressure.
Recently, I spent some time in Mark chapter 4 and a series of parables that Jesus tells.
One, in particular, connects with the pressure a lot of us are feeling as church leaders. It’s the parable of the growing seeds.
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29
We get this agricultural image where the farmer does the planting and the harvesting but the work between, the growth of the seed, happens all on its own.
When it comes to the way the seed sprouts and grows all on its own, it’s like:
I can’t explain it. It just happened.
This is a parable about the movement and growth of the kingdom.
We are involved in the process, we have a role for sure, but God has a role as well.
I think many of us are frustrated, disappointed, and even filled with shame over stuff that’s not our job.
We’re holding ourselves responsible and accountable for God’s part.
It’s your job to walk with that couple whose marriage is in trouble. Whether they make the right decisions that will salvage their marriage…that’s not your job.
It’s your job to build and execute a hospitable environment for people to attend your church services, either in-person or online. Whether people show up…that’s not your job.
It’s your job to study, prepare, and deliver a clear and compelling sermon. Whether or not people respond to that sermon…that’s not your job.
It’s your job to creatively recruit volunteers for your children’s ministry. Whether or not enough people commit to serving…that’s not your job.
Some of us are carrying this weight of responsibility that doesn’t belong to us.
We have been assigned a role but not the results. The outcomes…those belong to God.
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great that the results are not my job. But that means God’s not doing his job!”
It’s okay to feel frustrated. But, allow me to point something out from that parable.
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. Mark 4:27
Whether the farmer is working or sleeping, the seed grows anyway.
Whether the farmer is sweating in the field or snoozing in his bed, the seed grows anyway.
My take, if I’m reading this parable correctly, is that God is at work even when we aren’t.
God is at work, even when we’ve had enough.
So, here’s my point: What if God’s at work in your church even though it might feel like things are going backward?
What if God is at work in that marriage that appears to have no hope of surviving?
What if God is doing something through these crazy COVID conditions?
What if, in ways not yet entirely clear, God is expanding the borders of His kingdom in and through your church?
We need to remember what our job is and what our job isn’t.
Getting clear on this will keep us from unnecessary pressure, disappointment, and shame.
Let’s continue to work hard at the work that God has called us to and trust Him for the results.
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