This post was written by Marta Cortez, a member of the INCM Blog team.
Many of us went into ministry with the idea that a job serving Jesus on a church staff would be the ultimate utopia. We dreamed of ministering with people we could call “best friends” and ministering to people who were fully transformed by Jesus.
Wrong. We never imagined some of the challenges and painful situations we would encounter as church leaders.
Many of us have come to realize that ministry is not free of challenges, misunderstandings, and pain. Why? Because we are all in the process of being made new daily as we allow Christ to be formed in us through His Spirit and His Word. In this process of sanctification, we can be hurt by others, and we can hurt others, too.
Ministry is not for the faint of heart. As ministry leaders, we will face challenges, fears, disappointments, stresses, and a tremendous amount of pressure.
In fact, there may even be times when we question our ministry calling altogether, times when the enemy whispers in our ear that we are inadequate for the job. Sometimes, we buy into his lie. We face moments when the pressure is so great that we want to give up.
Does this sound like any part of your story? It has certainly been a part of mine. But I have found that in those difficult seasons, hitting the pause button, quieting my spirit in more intense prayer, and reminding myself of my mission and calling has helped to get my mind and my heart back on track.
Serving in ministry for the long haul through the challenges of life and leadership requires us to have a clear picture of our mission, a persevering character, and an understanding of grace.
We need to have mission, grit, and grace.
As believers, we have been given the mission of making disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19). And specifically as children’s ministry leaders our mission of reaching kids and families with the good news of Jesus is clear.
In addition to the gospel mission, we need our own personal mission statement to remind us to stay the course. Our personal mission statement is a declaration of how we are going to live out our life and calling within our giftings, values, strengths, and life experiences so that we personally live in alignment with King Jesus’s mission.
Reminding ourselves of why we do what we do (gospel mission) and having a clear picture of how we can accomplish it (personal mission statement) helps to give us guardrails and anchors when the storms of life and ministry try to sink us.
If you don’t have a personal mission statement, here are a few ways you can begin to define one.
- Seek God’s leading and wisdom in prayer
- Discover your spiritual gifts
- Make a list of your top 5 values
- Discover your personality traits – how God has wired you
- Think of who or what would be forgotten if you did not live on mission
- Write out a brief 1 to 2 sentence statement, which is your personal mission statement
Ministry for the long haul also requires grit. Grit is a firmness of mind or spirit and unyielding courage in the face of hardship.
None of us are exempt from hardships. In fact, John 16:33 tells us that “in this world, we will have trouble,” but it also reminds us that we can overcome it because Jesus overcame the world on our behalf. The Holy Spirit helps us to develop the grit we need to get through the challenges of ministry.
We must not forget that we have an enemy that is out to discourage, derail, and destroy us. That’s why it’s so important to put on all the armor of God – wearing truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and praying continually – so we can stand firm against the enemy as we endure hardship (Ephesians 6:11-16).
Persevering in trials with God’s strength grows our grit and ultimately our character.
Living with an understanding of God’s grace for us helps us to give grace to others and to ourselves. This grace-filled living helps us to extend forgiveness and show compassion to one another.
We all need grace. We need to give it and we need to receive it. Sometimes I struggle to give myself grace. I can take myself too seriously. To combat this, I have a picture of myself with a clown nose on my phone. It reminds me that God loves me just as I am. I’m not perfect. But daily God is transforming me into His image and even using the hardships to refine me.
As you grow in your leadership, I pray that God will give you clarity in your mission, grit to persevere, and grace to live by the Spirit so that you have what you need to minister with endurance.
Marta Cortez is an innovative leader with a passion for family ministry. She is dedicated to equipping leaders and seeing kids come to know Christ. She has served in many roles across her ministry career. Serving in churches of various sizes, including a megachurch, has developed her management skills and ability to tailor programs and leadership models to accommodate ministry needs. Marta has been married for 37 years and has two beautiful daughters. In her spare time, Marta loves baking, good coffee, and trips to the beach.