Monday mornings are tough. Mondays are no better for many pastors & teachers within the church. Sunday for the pastor may mean having to teach as many as three or four different times, on three or four different topics. Sundays can be very draining. Then comes Monday morning. The congregation is gone and off to work. No sermon to deliver. No people to pray for at the altar. Just an empty church.
Mondays bring what I call the “Holy Hangover”, the morning after everything happens. It can be tough to gather yourself and to keep pressing. To keep pursuing God. To keep tending to the flock that God has entrusted you with.
As ministry leaders, it can be a grind to week after week keep leading the people God has entrusted us with. We must balance pursuing God, pursuing our family and pursuing the ministry. It can be a lot. How can we keep from coasting in ministry but also guard against swamping ourselves with feeling of having to be a “spiritual Superman” & burning out? Paul provides us some great insight:
7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
~ Philippians 3:7-11
1) Find satisfaction in Christ alone
Paul was a man that God had used in a myriad of ways. Paul had seen a lot of “ministry success”. He was a powerful preacher. He was a successful writer. He had planted churches. He had a legacy of young men he had discipled who were now in ministry. He all the marks of being satisfied in what he had done. And what were all those things?
It is by viewing all things as utterly less than knowing Christ is what enables Paul to say this. Success means nothing apart from Christ. Earthly success without a dependence and satisfaction in Christ will produce frustration and brokenness. We don’t have to be successful to be content. We have to found in Christ to be content. Like John Piper says, “We cannot be dissatisfied with God when God is all we have.” With all the success that Paul had, what was his deepest desire? To be in Christ’s presence.
2) Find accountability and community
Being a pastor can be a lonely place. You can feel like you are not a member of the body of Christ as whole, but as something entirely different. There lies the problem. We feel better than the sheep we serve. We set ourselves apart from the flock and can even find righteousness in being the “pastor”. We fear being transparent with our people because that can come across as being weak or vulnerable.
Accountability is a must for the ministry leader. We need to have people who can tell us when we are stepping out of line, when we are finding our righteousness from something other than Christ. Find brothers in your church. Find other brothers in the ministry from your community. Have people you can get advice from, pray with, confess sins to. God gave us the body of Christ for a reason. Don’t be a lone wolf.
3) Crave Him
There will be no joy in ministry if you find no joy in Christ. Otherwise you are serving in a manner you don’t like, for a boss you don’t like, for compensation that likely isn’t a giant sum. We have to remember that Christ isn’t just the ends of ministry, but He is also the means by which we serve.
2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, 3 since you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Peter 2:2-5
Crave Him and He will grow you. Come to Him and He will build His church. All we must do is rest firmly in Him.