It doesn’t take long in life to feel frustrated! The chase for career victory careens off in laborious and tedious middle management meetings that go no-where. The marriage that was supposed to meet all your needs suddenly and shockingly reveals to you it needs work rather than worship. Even when it comes to church there are times where frustration can seem to leave us on the brink: leaving to go somewhere else where we feel more appreciated, fed up with the pastor and his preaching, the melodic deficiencies of the band, the fluctuating attendance or disappearing servants when nursery workers are needed.
Frustrations aren’t a rare part of ministry. A quick survey through scripture will show you that almost every prophet in the Bible, even Abraham and Moses experienced seasons of frustration. The prophet Elijah’s specifically comes to mind after his miraculous mountaintop victory, there was the frustrated meltdown: At Beersheba in Judah he declared to God, “I have had enough, LORD…Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors. Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.” (1 Kings 19:3-5). Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for frustration, but I also know there are times where my frustration is anything but justified.
It is hard to admit at times, other than to my poor wife, that even as a pastor (maybe especially as a pastor) there are numerous times where I seem to be driven into the valley by frustrations. I have to admit they are oftentimes faulty frustrations. They occur when my identity gets too closely wrapped up with attendance or when the praise of people starts to eclipse the true purpose of God-centered worship. The faulty frustrations rear their head like a sea monster rising through the waves when insecurity starts to trump the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
As I sit here in the peaceful and prayerfully lull of a Sunday afternoon, I have to come back to a simple conclusion that provides clarity: Ministry isn’t about me! Ministry isn’t about us, but it does include us! Ministry is about the mission of God and the marvelous power of Christ.