If you’re looking for a career where you will face mass uncertainty and moments of grave insecurity, I’ll tell you where you can find it: Ministry.
I was about 19 years old when it became evident that – if not the central part – ministry would play a very large role in my life. I was somewhat excited but I was also wary because of the times of adversity that I knew I would have to face. Of course, people looking in from the outside have their own thoughts. But now a part of this fraternity, I’ve come into a few truths that I’d like to share.
Ministry can kill your pockets
It is a popular misconception that those involved in ministry are raking in all the cash. I think the misconception is supported by the high visibility of a small proportion of ministers who have financially successful ministries. The truth is that there are a larger proportion of men and women who struggle to make ends meet in the name of the advancement of the gospel.
Some of these men and women are unable to take secular jobs. Their time is spent in prayer, crafting their gift as musicians, psalmists and minstrels and spending time in the word. Those looking in may feel like all these people do is speak on a pulpit, sing a song or play an instrument, not for a moment understanding the amount of time, energy and dedication that these men and women put in. This is not mentioning that some of these ministers come from cultures which believe that a minister must be willing to give everything for free and very often even when they try to create alternative means to support themselves and their families, they still end up living a life of struggle.
As someone from the Caribbean, the latter part of this truth rings loudly. I often see men and women from the Caribbean producing content of superior quality but very often ignored. We’ll gladly whip out our cards to pay for content from Kirk Franklin and Lecrae, but will refuse to pay for a track from Positive, Nathanael or John Yarde. We know how to get on Amazon, or borrow someone’s card to buy a book from TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer or Sarah Jakes but are clueless when it comes to patronizing one of our own.
Now that you know the truth…
Be considerate to the costs that someone else endures to carry and share the gospel. Give when you can, particularly when you’ve been ministered to and you were blessed and be willing to cheerfully pay for the things that you want. Buy their CDs, books and teaching material. Don’t expect it to be given for free. Of course there are times where you will come across ministers who are generous to a fault – I know, because I’m sometimes generous until I’m broke – who will give you free stuff. But it shouldn’t be an expectation. More importantly, support those from amongst you. Honor the prophets from your hometown. They have been entrusted to bring the gospel to you.
Ministry can you leave one as a wounded dog
Living the life of a minister leaves you more susceptible to the hurt and pain inflicted by people more than any other profession or career. The moment you step into the world of ministry you lose the right to privacy, you seemingly lose the right to make mistakes and be human, people whom you expect to know you and support you will gossip about you like anyone else and many times people expect perfection from you. This, is no doubt the recipe to leaving a human as a wounded dog.
People will talk about how you dress, how you speak, they will lambaste your family with no thought that they are indeed dealing with human beings. You will realize that the earth is filled with many more theologians and Biblical scholars than you were aware of. Everyone is more aware of your stance on matters and issues than you.and will seek to correct you in ways that would cause them to have a fit if they were to ever be corrected in similar fashion. Everyone knows that you should demonstrate love, but so often you will feel like no love is demonstrated to you.
Now that you know the truth…
Remember that the ministers amidst you, and not from amongst you are human beings. They feel and they hurt just like every other human being. Be careful what you say and very often wisdom should dictate that you remain quiet about the things which you know not of. Sometimes it is hilarious (other times it is not) to hear the things that people come up with. The church really should be producing a lot more authors of fictitious content. Anyhoo, I digress. My admonition is to value transparency. Be mindful that their transparency is not a weapon to be used against them. They often see it as a means of blessing. Love them, support them, correct them in love and pray for them.
Ministry is not about glamor. It is about sacrifice.
For some people, hearing that you’ve sat on a plane and changed geographical locations means glamor, wealth and extravagance. But so often this is far from the case. Some of these men and women would much rather spend time with their families, eat food that they are familiar with, sleep in their own beds and not worry about how they’re going to be able to pay their electric bills when they get home. Believe it or not, a large proportion of ministers who are passionate about the gospel reaching the ends of the earth pay their own tickets and accommodation, sometimes to countries and lands which markedly decrease the possibility of a return home. So what is glamorous about living on the edge? I’d love to know.
Now that you know the truth…
Pray for the ministers around you. Be kind to their families in their absence. Support them, and did I say pray? Pray, pray, pray for them.
Ministry can have very little earthly reward.
I think most ministers who understand ministry have come to recognize that ministry has very little earthly reward. Ministry is about storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth. It is a place of adversity, a place of challenge, a place of uncertainty, a place of great faith and sometimes people prosper because of their obedience to God. But for many, ministry is a place of little earthly reward. It is a place of hurt, it is a place of pain, it is a place of growth, and the reward is often souls for the kingdom.
Before entering ministry, I think I held many untruths about this walk of life. I didn’t understand. I didn’t know. Knowing what I know now, I would hope that I would answer to the call again. But for now;
Now that I know the truth…
I simply hold a deep sense of respect for those who tread this path. I try to support them with my loyalty and respect as well as with my finances as much as I possibly can. I pray for them a little more because so often they are alone and without support. I pray for them a little more because so often they are in a place not unlike Gethsemane. I try to be kind to their families, not for the sake of treating them like church royalty, but because I understand that they are carrying a heavy burden.
Ministry is no bed of roses, but it allows us to demonstrate the love of a God who loved us enough to send his only son to pay a price reserved for the lowly cattle. It is an opportunity for us to mimic the love of Christ and so undoubtedly, it is a place of Love, Sacrifice and pain. At the end of the day, ministry is for us all. This is the undiluted truth about ministry.