“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper timewe will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
So, what happens when we make ministry long term? Currently, my husband and I are living in Zambia as full time missionaries. There is a lot we are learning as we adjust from short term ministry to full time ministry. The first lesson I am learning is that ministry is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. In other words, learning how to “live” on the field, means making core values, full time values, not “few-week” values. Values like compassion, patience, being flexible, selfless service, and unconditional love become a daily decision born out of dedication. A choice to do what Jesus would do.
This is no easy task because the frustrations, irritations, and straight up off-the-wall issues greet you face to face every day and there is no clocking out and leaving it all at work. For example, suddenly, long term, a 3-hour church service seems like 3 days worth of energy. Or someone coming to your door in the middle of the night becomes extremely draining over time. Or for example, preparing a message for a bible study group or organizing an outreach takes a lot more effort and creativity in a full time context. It seems there are very few moments when no one is asking something of you. These challenges cause me to look into my heart. I am finding that most of those issues have little to do with where I am physically and more to do with where I am spiritually. These heart issues surface in a long term context, you find what you are really made of!
I am finding that I, in and of myself am not made of a whole lot. Full-time ministry is about abiding in Christ, completely trusting in His strength and not my own. Every day I wake up, I have to surrender to whatever the Lord puts in front of me. I have daily tasks and ongoing ministries that I am involved in, but I have to always be willing to see beyond that. Am I willing to take time for the one right in front of me? Am I willing to go out of my way, or postpone something to meet a need? Am I selflessly serving, being compassionate, being flexible and unconditionally loving on a daily basis or just during “ministry hours”? I am nothing in and of myself. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20