It takes some of us ministers many years before we're finally content with what we do and where we are doing it. Some will unfortunately live angry and frustrated lives throughout their years of ministry. This need not be the case.
Contentment in ministry should not be confused with complacency. By contentment, I don't mean that I am content to stop growing spiritually, intellectually, or even vocationally. I don't mean that I am unconcerned with the spiritual formation of others. I'm not content to just slide through life and leave everything exactly as I found it. I want to be a force for good wherever I am. So I'm not talking about biding my time until retirement. Nor would I ever be content to retire from ministry, which is more than just a job.
By contentment I mean getting to a place where I'm no longer overly self-conscious, self-willed, selfishly ambitious (Phil. 2:3), or apologetic for being me. Reaching these goals are admittedly easier at a congregation like the one I currently serve. Here I am allowed, and even encouraged, to play to my strengths. I don't have the nagging feeling that someone is always trying to remake me into one's own personal vision of the ideal minister. That being said, however, I think my transformation over the years (especially the last four to five) might have as much to do with me as with my surroundings.
I've simply chosen to stop being angry, frustrated, and overly self-critical. Such traits are demoralizing and paralyzing. Any church will afford ample opportunity for a minister to fall into such patterns, but life is too short for that. To be driven by criticism, idealism, or ambition means you're heading for a train wreck. So over the next few posts I'll be sharing some "Keys to Contentment in Ministry." The following topics will be addressed:
1) Stop thinking of Ministry as a Career
2) Don't Live to Appease Your Critics
3) Play to Your Strengths
If you have additional topics to add to this list, I'd be happy to consider writing about those as well. Stay tuned for more very soon.