It’s the month of Thanksgiving. In just a few weeks we’ll be stuffed and sitting around a dining table contemplating what we are thankful for before we rush out for those “once-in-a-lifetime” deals of stuff is only 18 days away.
And while I certainly think everyone can stop and consider what they have to be thankful for, I think it’s especially important in ministry.
I’ve written before about how ministry can be difficult and about how we can actively remember progress. But today I want to talk about actively thinking about the things we might take for granted. It can keep you from burnout and cynicism and it’s not just important once a year but all year long.
- The gospel
Start at the basics right? There is no ministry without the good news. It so important when you feel the pull of pessimism on your ministry to remember Christ and his sacrifice for your freedom.
- Your calling
As a Christian whether you work at a church or not you have been called to something bigger and eternal through the Great Commission. In whatever way that God has called you to do that, remember it is an honor and a calling that is bigger than anything you’d ever create “on your own”.
- Your gift package.
In my church’s mission statement we specifically call out “skilled staff”. I may not always feel skilled but the fact is I do have a gift package that God gifted me. So learn how to sharpen and develop it.
- Your spouse.
I firmly believe if you are married and work for a church it is next to impossible without a supportive spouse. Thank God for them and more importantly remember your first calling is to be their husband or wife and love and serve them as Christ served the church.
- Accountability partners.
If you’re in ministry you need someone who keeps you accountable. I’m not saying your supervisor or a church board. Someone who knows you and knows your struggles. Someone who you give permission to call you when you lose track. When you find those people realize how much you’ve protected yourself, your ministry, those you love, and the testimony of the gospel you serve.
- Dedicated volunteers.
You yourself may be a volunteer at your church. But chances are you’re not the only one. You may at times feel you’re the only dedicated one but remember you’re not alone. Remember Elijah (1 Kings 19:10-18), he thought he was alone but there was many he didn’t see.
- Senior team support.
I’ve written before how crucial these next two are. Sadly many churches don’t have this. But if your church supports each ministry from the senior level, as mine does, be grateful.
Many times in ministry we can look at the neighboring ministry or church and envy budget. Remember the parable of the talents. You’ve been given exactly what God has entrusted. Each gift is a gift of faithfulness from someone. You have no idea if that person who gave did 10% or 90%. Be grateful for each gift.
- Ability to say “No”
You and you alone are accountable for the margin in your life. If you don’t have any and you feel burnt out remember you can say “no”. Graciously and with gratitude, this is always a choice.
- The harvest- Just recently I wrote about this concept and it’s incredibly important to consider. Regardless of where you work in ministry remember God is faithful with the harvest. Even if you don’t always see it.
So there’s my list of the things I’m trying to keep in front of me. Of course you can get even more general. Like being thankful for mashed potatoes with gravy or the wonder-bird that is turkey or the fact that calories don’t count on Thanksgiving. (Right?). Either way, give thanks and know that I’m thankful for you reading.