When Ministry Hurts

Fall launch approached with the mixed emotions it always brings. Our student leaders returned for our training weekend. The long days and nights of not seeing my husband had begun. I desperately wanted to stay connected to the ministry and supportive of my husband. Honestly, not for all the right reasons, some, but not all.

I hustled three little boys into their shoes, once found, and out the door. We drove to town to have lunch with our student leader friends, that of all the students, I would have known best with my sporadic times on campus. I was frazzled but determined to connect with them even with three littles along. We were at the front of buffet line and then sat down expecting others to join us. One by one the student friends filed past us with their plates piled high, filling up tables all around. My husband could see what was happening but was tied up serving the meal. He knows my heart so well and my high value of inclusivity and to connect; he recognized this process cut deep. My core lies of acceptance were hard at work with each passing student friend. Conversations and laughter floated all around me as I helped my boys finish their food. I held back the tears that made my eyes ache and disappointment that caused my heart to sink.
After the meal there were a few minutes of mingling; I remember having some small talk with a few women. I hate small talk. That wasn’t why I had made the effort to attend. The pain from my private rejection kept my mind from really engaging—I wanted to get out of there. I wanted to never see another student again. Ever. I knew I was being a bit dramatic and unfair but I still left as soon as possible.
What do we do:
o   When the people we pour our lives into seem to reject us?
o   When the woman we disciple ignores our advice and makes a bad life-altering decision?
o   When no one seems to understand how much effort it takes to make our home tidy and welcoming to a group of student friends week after week instead of resting after a long day of mothering?
o   When a donor stops giving to us in order to give to someone else?
I’ve had to learn the hard way what to do and it took painful situations like these to turn my wrong motives around. I have to choose Jesus. Again. I have to choose to love. Because it isn’t about being accepted at their table, it’s about already being accepted at His. It isn’t about her taking my wise counsel, it’s about modeling the grace and forgiveness I’ve already received. It isn’t about acknowledgement or praise for my service, though that does feel so good, it is about pointing their lives closer and closer to the One Who deserves all our praise.
Paul E. Miller in A Loving Life says,
Loving like Jesus, based on faith in Jesus, gives us the joy of Jesus and sets us up for resurrection. So faith in Christ isn’t just mental assent but also an entering into his life. It remaps my expectations of what life is like. It kills the grumps because it isn’t you against me, but me living in the pattern of Christ’s journey. (p. 71)
So when ministry hurts I need to be reminded, I’m not doing it because I love them, though that is part of it. I’m doing it because He first loved me (1 John 4:7-12). And gave His life up for me. This frees me once again to give up my life, my rights, my acceptance, to Him. This frees me to enter into ministry again and again, even when it hurts.
Sherry has been on staff since 1997. She and Jeff have been married for 15 years and have served in WI, SD and now in CO.  They have 3 boys ages 6-11 and there is never a dull moment in their house. Jeff works with operations and training for collegiate. Sherry enjoys writing and encouraging mommy missionaries when she isn’t busy homeschooling. 

4 thoughts on “When Ministry Hurts

  1. I just came back and re-read this post after a particularly hurtful realization and my own little episode of \”when ministry hurts\” tonight Sherry. Thank you again for your vulnerability and reminding me of some of these very important truths.


  2. Hi Leigh Ann, I'm sorry you had a hurtful experience dear. I prayed for you after reading this. May you feel His Presence and immense Love for you in a special way today. You are so dear to Him. And us! Thank you for all that you do in His Name.


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