Incredible as it may be, it is easy to become discontent in ministry.
That’s not a reflection on the challenges of ministry so much as it is a reflection on the fickle nature of our hearts. We start out eager to serve the Lord and others, but then, perhaps through expectations, comparison, or distraction, our focus shifts and we find ourselves with diminishing joy as we serve.
How did someone like the Apostle Paul maintain contentment through a lifetime of ministry?
What makes Paul’s life of contentment even more pronounced is that it took place in the midst of very hard ministry. Paul had no walk in the park. When he wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11), he was in prison.
So how did he do it?
1. Gratitude—Paul never lost his sense of gratefulness to get to serve the Lord.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;—1 Timothy 1:12
How, where, and through whom we get to serve the Lord is not a right—it is a privilege. It is God who calls us, enables us, and places us where He does.
When we compare our place or sphere of ministry with others, we will kill both our joy and our gratitude.When we compare our place or sphere of ministry with others, we will kill both our joy and our gratitude. Click To Tweet
2. Humility—When we believe that God or others owe us anything—whether that be financial benefits, perceived success, thanks for our labor, or any other prideful expectation that so easily creeps in—we kill our own contentment. The proud heart is never a contented heart.The proud heart is never a contented heart. Click To Tweet
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:—Acts 20:19
3. Focus—If you want to destroy your contentment, focus on the people you serve and the needs they have rather than on the Lord.
To be sure, part of ministry is serving others and ministering to their needs. But if we focus there, we miss the fact that we are serving the Lord, even as we serve others.
In fact, Acts 20:19 above shows us that Paul’s “humility of mind” was rooted in his realization that he was “Serving the Lord.” And 1 Timothy 1:12 quoted earlier likewise begins with a focus on Christ.
So how would you rate your contentment?
Would you like to increase it?
Develop gratitude, humility, and a persevering focus on the Lord, and you will also develop contentment.