Much of ministry can feel unfair. People who don’t understand the weight of ministry put unfair expectations on you, don’t respect your time as your own, feel the right to speak into how you raise your kids. In the midst of difficult ministry seasons, it’s tempting to look at that church over there and see advantages. That leader’s spouse is more supportive. This pastor’s congregation is higher income so he has all kinds of funds to work with that you don’t. It is human nature and normal to interpret some things as unfairness and to feel the sting of it.
After all, you learned to spot unfairness early in life. Kids measure juice in cups, sizes of cookies, numbers of presents at Christmas—all to ensure fairness. That fairness was defined as getting the exact same thing in the exact same amount as the other kids. As an adult, the pattern reveals itself in wanting the same advantages and success and, yes, even the same stuff as others. We all feel it at times.
But equality doesn’t mean equity. As a ministry leader, you understand that each person has unique interests, strengths, and needs. The exact same support and resources for everyone in reality may meet one person’s needs, while leaving another still in need and yet another with an abundance.
You know this. You can even say its true and applies to you and to your ministry. But it still feels unfair.
4 Ways You Can Overcome Feelings of —Unfairness
1. Redefine success
It’s tempting to define success by the numbers—partly because it’s easy. Yet success in ministry is not as simple as success in business. He with the most toys doesn’t necessarily win. Rather than defining ministry success by the size of the numbers in our budget or the number of people in pews, what other factors can you look at? Is your church making disciples? Are you helping and supporting your congregation to be obedient to Jesus? Are the people in the church faithful in giving, loving, and serving outwardly? Is the Kingdom of God faithfully proclaimed? Even if your church isn’t big and your wallets aren’t flush, you can still do the things Jesus has asked you to do. Just as crowds left Jesus during times in his ministry; you also will not always be popular or appreciated.
2. Engage your personal calling
God has given different callings to different leaders. Looking to the right and to the left and comparing or wishing for this or that situation means you’ve pulled your attention away from what God has for you. What is the mission God has called YOU to? Focus on that. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Instead, joy can be found in doing the work Jesus has called you to, even if that work is not glamorous or flashy—even if no one seems to notice it.
3. Confront jealousy
No matter how you try, you will likely have feelings of jealousy or envy creep in. You may feel it when you see another ministry leader whose successes celebrated. You also want to be well-known, respected, and sought-after. As soon as you notice those jealous thoughts bubbling up into our consciousness, consciously let them go. Recognize them, and let them go. Jealousy will only drag you down and poison your love.
4. Connect to purpose
When you go before God someday, you will go as those who were hired last in the day—yet received the full wage. It will be unfair. Whether you were given much or little to work with, your purpose and hope is to stand before God and hear–from Him only– “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Experiencing God- It’s healthy and so good to go back to basics—especially when fighting against feelings like unfairness. Experiencing God is a downloadable guide filled with open-ended questions to help you see God at work in your life and all around you. Use it as a devotional or better yet, a small group study. Experiencing God is one of eight Guides for Discipling. Learn more HERE.