Years ago, before planting our church, my husband, Tim, and I led a traveling ministry. We started out as starry-eyed, Jesus-loving, zealous believers, who were excited with anticipation to offer these amazing events filled with fun and joy-filled moments while at the same time attempting to introduce the world to Jesus with a team of other starry-eyed, Jesus-loving, zealous ministry friends.
What we anticipated for the events was on target. Jesus was the central message, and life-change happened within people's hearts at each and every event.
What we didn't anticipate, however, were the aspects of ministry that happened between the events. For those of us in churches, this encompasses the 6 days between our weekend worship experiences.
I term this--'ministry in the trenches', where most of our battles takes place--the situations and circumstances we combat behind-the-scenes as we lead and pastor our churches.
This is the place where we experience deep hurt and intense loneliness. It's the place where, along with our spouses, we make that decision to forge ahead no matter what obstacle or challenge comes our way. It's the place where we feel we may bottom out and crash and burn if we don't get a break soon. And sadly, it's the place where many ministry leaders will begin to second guess and question their calling.
Ministry in the trenches is where we get through the tough stuff, and I'm certain, as a leader in ministry, that you know this place quite well. I know I do.
I've heard it said, "Knowledge is power". And when we know what may challenge us, we can seek God for the strength to get through.
So as you read the following 5 challenges that every woman in ministry goes through, continue to keep reminding yourself..."I can get through the tough stuff".
1) Your heart will be broken.
People will leave your church. Some of those closest to you will turn on a dime. Even the ones who have high-fived and fist-bumped you in the beginning will suddenly stop volunteering with no explanation. And you may never understand why, so... Keep reminding yourself..."I can get through the tough stuff." (Read Psalm 34:18)
2) You will have challenging seasons in your marriage and family.
Leading a church full-time is comparable to leading a second family. And with this commitment comes time away with regularly scheduled meetings and unexpected visits to the hospital and phone calls requiring you to counsel on a moment's notice. Schedules are packed, and you haven't had a sit-down family dinner in a month. It will always be a balancing act, so... Keep reminding yourself..."I can get through the tough stuff." (Read Ecclesiastes 4:12)
3) You will make mistakes.
You and I are perfectly imperfect (my new mantra). And we will never get it exactly right. We will hurt people's feelings without knowing it. We'll neglect to return a phone call. You will forget to send a thank you note to that person who helped you for endless hours complete the event deadline, so... Keep reminding yourself..."I can get through the tough stuff." (Read Philippians 3:12)
4) There will be days when you will want to quit.
You'll get tired. Hours of work will be spent toward the goal, and the results seem minimal. There will be moments when it feels like no one cares. You can become discouraged and depressed. And just when you feel like you are ready to take a deep breath, the wind gets knocked out of you again because people are talking negatively about you, so... Keep reminding yourself..."I can get through the tough stuff." (Read Galatians 6:9)
5) You will have to forgive over and over and over again.
How many times? Over, and over, and over, and over, and then, over and over again. So just... Keep reminding yourself..."I can get through the tough stuff." (Read Matthew 18:21)