Balancing the highs and lows of life and ministry is a difficult part of your job. As a pastor, there are many days when you are celebrating victories and milestones one hour and the next you are sitting with someone as they say goodbye to a loved one. Maintaining gratitude can be a challenge but it’s also the best way to navigate the dualities of ministry.
Here is what you’re up against
The world is beautiful and filled with wonders to discover and enjoy. So much can be learned about our Creator by exploring creation. But we live in a fallen world where the consequences of sin have brought separation and sorrow. Praise God for Jesus and the forgiveness, redemption, and freedom he lovingly gives us access to. The Kingdom has come, but not in all its fullness. We have yet to live in perfect peace.
The crowning glory of creation—bearers of the image of God. Yet every single one of us is also a sinner. People are capable of beautiful acts of kindness and grace as well as acts of evil and violence. Sometimes we have a hard time telling the difference between right and wrong/good and evil because so much is intertwined… and because the story isn’t over yet. The Kingdom is not yet fully revealed.
God has sown good things in your life. You were created in his image. As a follower of Jesus, you are redeemed by grace. You are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. You are given a calling and opportunities to do good things in the world (Ephesians 2:8-10). Yet the enemy has come in and sown weeds in your life also. Sin, distractions, bad motivations, bad habits that try to keep the good from growing. Our choices—some obviously good, some obviously bad, but usually not so clear cut.
Life is a crazy mixed bag and, since we don’t know what precisely God will ultimately do, your mission is to carry on the mission he has given us to help make as many people as possible to become part of God’s Kingdom. As a disciple of Christ, you are called to love and serve everyone. In that way, you have a meaningful role to play in this process. Even if you don’t fully know the ultimate impact, you can live and love like Jesus, and in so doing make a difference where you are.
Doing this means focusing more on the good over obsessing on the bad. You can’t do everything. But what CAN you do? You can’t avoid the bad altogether but you can focus on the good and invest your energy there. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
Live in gratitude
One important practice to maintain this kind of outlook is intentional gratitude. Set aside time to reflect on questions like these:
- What’s going well in your life?
- What are you thankful for?
- What has God gifted you with?
- What opportunities do you have?
- How are you right now uniquely placed to help others?
Intentional focus on gratitude benefits your mental health in numerous ways, as well as helping us focus on productive areas where we can make a difference. And when you then look to the future, a mindset of gratitude results in vision and hope. Even when many things are probably not going well in your life… but what CAN you be grateful for?
Focus on faithfulness to what God is calling you toward, and leave the end results up to God.
There’s nothing like having someone in your corner to help you see the good and keep you on track. This is the ministry of Barnabas and the basis of my coaching philosophy. A coach is a sounding board to help you clarify vision, goals, and next steps—someone to help you navigate the chaos and help you accomplish your goals with excellence. There is no need to go it alone. I have a couple of spots open to new coaching clients. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Do you want to be a Barnabas to others? I’ve got two great resources for you! Start with Becoming Barnabas. This short book outlines the powerful principles found in Barnabas’ ministry. For practical application, look to Christian Coaching Essentials. This new work covers the basics of coaching with thorough explanation and exercises you can put into practice right away.
For more coaching tools, check out my coaching website, www.christiancoachingtools.com.