Have you noticed the Ministry Misery writing genre that’s proving strangely popular in some circles?
Pastors try to outdo one another in painting ministry in general, and themselves in particular, in as dismal and depressing a light as they possibly can.
There are usually two recurring memes:
(1) Ministers are more evil than you can possibly imagine. I’m more hypocritical, more devious, and more selfish than Hitler, Saddam, and Osama put together. To prove it let me tell you about how bad a father, a husband, and a pastor I am. Again and again and again.
(2) The ministry is more evil than you can possibly imagine. You’ve no idea how hard it is to be a pastor. So much suffering, so much persecution, so much giving, and all for so little return.
Misery, misery, misery. Sometimes it appears that the worse they describe themselves and their work, the more popular the articles seem to be. Lots of other pastors chime in with “I’m even worse than that…and so’s my congregation.”
Is this some kind of perverse Reformed monkishness that enjoys very public and painful self-flaggelation? Is there something especially holy and admirable about this activity?
I know there’s a danger of pride in ministers, and we need to strip away the illusions of pastoral glamor lest naive young men are attracted to it for the wrong reasons, but come on guys, we’re not totally evil and neither is our work. People are not lying when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace” (Rom. 10:15)?
We are ambassadors for Christ with a high and noble calling. While every job has its thorns and thistles, there’s huge satisfaction and pleasure too. Usually there are far more positives than negatives. Can there be anything more enjoyable than preaching the Gospel, evangelizing the lost, pastoring needy sinners, equipping saints for works of service, and helping saints on their way to glory?
Let’s get a better balance in our view of God’s work in us, through us, and around us. And let’s have more articles and books on Pastoral Pleasures and less on Ministry Miseries.
It’s a few years old now, but here’s a starter on the joys I’ve experienced in my own ministry.