If the ministry is anything, it is labor. Paul told Timothy, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Timothy 3:1). And that is exactly what it is—work.
I know there are many who look at a pastor or those who serve on a church staff and think they have something close to a one-day-a-week job. But the truth is far different. Caring for the church as a faithful undersheperd requires not only sermon preparation and administrative work, but also the love, prayer, care, bearing others’ needs, and intense spiritual warfare that Paul referenced when he wrote, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).
But the work of the ministry is a great work. It’s a work I love, and I get to do it for people I love. Does it have inherent burdens? Yes. But does it have inherent joys? A hundred fold more.
I’ve often reminded pastors and our church staff that part of our job is to model the joy of the Lord. If young people see their spiritual leaders wearing the burdens of ministry on their countenance, why would they want to be a part? But if they see the reality of God’s grace and the joy of serving in the ministry, they will be attracted.
Why do I love the opportunity to labor in the work of the Lord? Here’s just a few reasons:
- I love seeing souls saved. The foremost work of a servant of God is preaching the gospel and personally witnessing to the lost. Seeing someone come to Christ is one of the greatest joys of life, and I get to see it on a regular basis.
- I love seeing lives changed. The upside to long hours in sermon preparation and personal counseling is watching the power of the gospel at work in lives conforming people to the image of Christ.
- I love seeing fruit that remains. We just conducted our fall soulwinning signups last week, and there’s nothing like seeing new soulwinners going out this fall who you had opportunity to lead to the Lord. It is a joy to see spiritual fruit; and it is an even greater joy to see fruit that remains.
- I love serving God’s people. It’s kind of like being a parent in that there is a great deal of unseen labor, but it is for people you dearly love.
- I love equipping others to serve. As a pastor, my job is not to do the work of the ministry alone, but to equip our church family to do the work of the ministry. I love seeing God’s grace at work in others’ lives as they mature spiritually, lead others to Christ, and use their spiritual gifts in serving the church family.
- I love the next generation. Having pastored now for almost thirty years in the same church, I get to perform the weddings of kids I prayed over in baby dedications. I love watching the next generation—whether they be the young people in our church or students of West Coast Baptist College—firmly grasp the baton of truth and run with it in their generation.
- I love entering into the labor of those who have gone before. I thank God for the heritage of men and women who have stood for truth through the centuries and even in recent years. I’m aware that my labor is built on theirs, and I thank God for the privilege.
- I love fulfilling God’s calling on my life. I was in eighth grade when I knew God was calling me to preach His Word. I can’t imagine being happy doing anything else. Over the years, I’ve seen the truth of the saying “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.”
- I love the Word of God. And as a pastor, part of my responsibility is to study and preach the very Word of God. What a privilege!
- I love God Himself. Of all the joys of laboring together with God, none is as motivating as the love of Christ. When I meditate on the cross and on what Christ did for me, I’m stirred to serve with more passion, more faithfulness, more love.
Of the many ways I could spend my life, there is no way I’d rather invest it than in the work of the ministry.