If you’re anything like me, you are committed to being in ministry for the long haul. You want to be serving God and people through your ministry for the rest of  your life.

Sadly, this is not always the case, as people are dropping out of ministry in record numbers, these days. The reasons why can certainly be discussed and debated (and have been), but I believe that at least one of those reasons has to do with a lack of joy in the journey.

Everyone in ministry, at every level, has times of discouragement, disillusionment, disappointment and …other “disses.”  Ministry can often be tough and unrewarding. It requires our best efforts, our best energy and a constant reliance on God’s power to sustain us as we go.

And although it can also be the most rewarding, exhilarating and fulfilling experience of our lives, sometimes we can lose our joy along the way.

Have you lost your joy in ministry? Here are a few suggestions for sparking the embers of joy back into a warm, glowing and attractive flame in your life:

1. Remember your calling.

Go back to the beginning.  Reflect on when you said, “Yes” to God and went into ministry. Remember the way you felt, the setting, the people who were around you and the joy and honor of being called into ministry. “Raise your Ebenezer” with some kind of “touch stone” to remind you of those moments, and consider how “hither by His help you’ve come.” (1 Samuel 7:12)

2. Spend some time “officing” in your community.

There’s something about changing your setting, getting out of your office and getting into your community that helps rekindle your vision and remind you of why you’re in ministry.

Every time I “office” out of a coffee shop or a park, I see people wandering around, like “sheep without a shepherd,” and I begin to get refocused.  Just being in these kinds of places opens up opportunities for connecting with people who need Jesus, keeps my priorities in order and lessens the weight of the stresses of ministry.

Compassion for others can stir up joy and get our minds off of our ministry “pains” and back onto our purpose and mission. (Matthew 9:36-38)

3. Share Jesus with someone.

Very few things can bring back the joy in ministry like leading someone to place their faith in Jesus and seeing them become a Christ Follower.  Pray for the opportunity, and share the Gospel with someone.  You may go out with weeping, but you’ll return with shouts of joy. Oh, and there’ll be some joy in heaven, also… (Psalm 126:6,  Luke 15:7)

4. Connect with other ministers.

Find other ministers in your area who have the same ministry focus as you do and meet regularly for coffee or breakfast.  Share stories and struggles and encourage each other.  Sometimes in ministry, only other ministers can really understand what you’re experiencing and can encourage you properly.

It’s also great to know that you’re not the only one who faces these challenges.  Let “iron sharpen iron.”  Laugh with, pray for, and encourage each other. (Proverbs 27:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:11  and Hebrews 3:13)

5. Find somewhere you can pray/shout/talk out loud with God.

When you’re frustrated, it’s always a good idea to “ventilate vertically,” (to God) rather than “horizontally” (at others). Find a place where no one else can hear you and audibly voice your frustrations to God.

I remember doing this in a big, open field once, during a difficult time when I was planting a church in Texas. I prayed, shouted and talked with God until I was completely spent. I left no frustration in my ministry “un-dealt-with.”  I then walked home from that experience with a renewed faith, a sense of peace, and the emotional release that I hadn’t even realized that I had needed.

God is a big God.  Purge your anxieties by tossing them up to Him, ….and do so loudly if necessary. He can handle it.  (Psalm 13, 1 Peter 5:7)

6. Fill a page with things you are thankful for.

Take a few minutes and write down or type up everything that you have to be thankful for. Give thanks for answered prayer, blessings you have, your family, and for the privilege of serving in your ministry.

Ask yourself, “What do I even have to be thankful for?” then list every possible thing that comes to your mind. Gratitude plants seeds of joy as we reflect on our blessings.  (Here’s a list of verses of Scripture to chew on as you go.)

7. Tell someone your testimony.

Tell someone how you became a Christ Follower, how you were called into ministry or even something that God has done in your life or ministry, lately.  Sometimes just sharing these kinds of stories out loud with someone else can reignite a flame inside us that has begun to flicker out. Focus more on what God has done than the personal details of your story.

And of course, always explain the hope that you have to someone who asks, but don’t hesitate to share it even if they haven’t asked… (1 Peter 3:15)

8. Eat well, exercise and get some rest.

This isn’t very spiritual sounding, but it is often one of the best things you can do if you’ve begun to lose your joy in ministry. It’s amazing what eating right, adding some exercise and getting a good night’s rest can do to renew your spirit.

Doing these three things has not only renewed my coping abilities, perspective and energy, they have also restored my joy in ministry many times along the way. (1 Kings 19:4-7,  Daniel 1:12-16, Psalm 30:5, Lamentations 3:22-23,  Mark 2:27)

9. Laugh at the funny things that happen in ministry.

Seriously, some funny things happen in ministry. Stop and remember a few of them that have happened to you along the way. That baptism when the kid jumped in? That time somebody fell asleep and started snoring in the service?  That time you read 1 Samuel 25:22 in the King James Version out loud in your service because it was a cross referenced verse, but you hadn’t looked at it beforehand?

Yeah, laugh about those and many others that have happened and that will happen in your ministry.

Find and talk to someone who has been in ministry for over 40 years and ask them the same question that I ask ministers on The Ministry Backpack Podcast – “What’s one of the funniest things that’s happened to you in ministry?”  You won’t be disappointed. And a good laugh is a good doorway back to joy. (Psalm 118:24)

10. Spend some time with children.

Don’t be creepy, but find a safe place to watch and/or interact with small children. Notice how they play and are filled with wonder at the smallest of things.  Observe the simple and pure, unfiltered joy that kids display so much better than grownups do.

Remember a joyful moment at Christmas or some other time when you were a kid. Drop your guard and set aside the stresses of ministry while getting a lesson on joy from these little ones.  The kingdom of God belongs to such as these, after all. (Luke 18:16)

11. Ask God to fill you with His joy.

Could it really be this simple?  Maybe it’s not an immediate solution in every situation, but it’s certainly the best step in the right direction. And it could also be that, in relation to joy, we “have not because we ask not.”

If the joy in your ministry has started to melt away, maybe it’s time to simply, directly and clearly ask the Lord to first “restore unto you the joy of your salvation,” and then let your ministry flow out of that.

“…Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. ” (John 16:24; Psalm 51:12)

Image Credit: Ben White Photography

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 Johnny Leckie is a Christ Follower, Husband to Leona, and Father to MatthewMelissa & Michael. He is also a Church Planting Pastor, Musician, Artist, & Blogger. He’s a big fan of Coffee & Bacon and is currently planting a Church in Aurora, Colorado called Compass Church.  He is the founder of MinistryBackpack.com.

Wisdom Filter

Posted by Johnny Leckie | Blog, Trail Mix - Ministry

Scripture makes it clear that there is wisdom in seeking advice from a variety of counselors.

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success.” – Proverb 15:22 (NLT)

Scripture also makes it clear that some advice is to be avoided.

“In the mouth of a fool, a proverb becomes as limp as a paralyzed leg.” – Proverb 26:7 (NLT)

“A proverb in a fool’s mouth is as dangerous as a thornbush brandished by a drunkard.” – Proverb 26:9 (NLT)

“What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!” – Proverb 18:13 (NLT)

Who are you listening to?

Choose your counselors wisely.

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 Johnny Leckie is a Christ Follower, Husband to Leona, and Father to MatthewMelissa & Michael. He is also a Church Planting Pastor, Musician, Artist, & Blogger. He’s a big fan of Coffee & Bacon and is currently planting a Church in Aurora, Colorado called Compass Church.  He is the founder of MinistryBackpack.com.

There are several reasons you may have kids in your worship service:

  • You are a small church that doesn’t have the resources to provide a separate Kids’ Ministry
  • You are doing a special service that includes kids in the service for the day
  • It is part of your philosophy of ministry to include kids in the service with their parents

Whatever the reason, there are times when we have kids in our services.  This is a healthy thing, whether it is occasional or ongoing, but when they are included in attendance, we should strive to make them included in the service itself.

It’s easy to just give them headphones and an iPad, but it would be better to have them actively participating in some way.  I remember one Sunday when a little girl who was joining us for the Worship Service said to me, “I don’t mind being in here with you, but I don’t understand what you’re talking about!”

That was a good reminder to keep my communication and preaching clear for everyone in the room, regardless of age.  No small task, though, right?

That conversation inspired us to create a simple “Kids’ Worship Guide” for when school age kids are with us in the service. It’s very “general,” and is applicable for any service.  We provide them with crayons, and encourage them to actively engage in the service with us and the adults who brought them to church, today.

Feel free to download the FREE PDF here and use it whenever you need. (No opt in, necessary. Just click the link and download!)

You can also use it as an inspiration and simply create your own.  To create ours, we used free clip art and created the word search puzzle for free, here: “Discovery Education Free Puzzle Maker”

If this is useful, and you’d like to see more of these kinds of downloads on the site, please let me know in the comments below. Feel free to share the link, and thanks for stopping by!

From time to time someone will ask me something along the lines of: “How do you know when it’s time to move on to another Church, ministry or opportunity?” I’ve wrestled with this question a number of times along the way.

Here’s how I approach it.

Two quick “filters” before I share the indicators that it may be time to hit the road:

You shouldn’t leave just because things get tough. “Obstacles are not always indicators” that it is time to move on, because ministry is not always easy. In fact, it’s usually pretty tough. If you are involved in ministry of any kind, you can pretty much expect to encounter obstacles and challenges every week. That’s just how it goes. I will go so far as to say that obstacles are usually (though not always) terrible indicators of direction in this regard.

Also, you shouldn’t be in too big of a hurry to leave. I think many people hit the road way too soon in ministry. Usually it takes at least 2 to 3 years in one place just to deal with the “messes of our own making.”

But just as it is a mistake to leave a position too soon in ministry, it is also a mistake to stay too long.

Sometimes God makes it unmistakably clear that He is calling you to someplace new. Other times, …not so much.

In those “fuzzy” times, here are some possible indicators that God may use to inform you that it is time to transition to a new ministry. Keep in mind that this is not a formula, and your results may vary…

1. You have a growing passion and heart for a ministry or opportunity that can not or will not be realized in your current situation.

This is when that passion or heart just won’t go away. No matter how hard you try to envision or implement it where you are, it just doesn’t work, or is continually blocked for some reason. Like the Apostle Paul’s “Macedonian call, (Acts 16:9-10)” it can only be fulfilled in one way: Going to Macedonia.

2. You lack vision, passion and love for the people in your area for an extended period of time.

This is not just the “Monday blues,” but a difficulty seeing what God may want to accomplish in your current ministry. If all you can come up with are “canned” goals from someone else’s ministry, and you can’t love the people with a desire to see them become all that God wants them to be, it may be time to go.

Of course, you may just need a vacation. But if after prayer and rest, you can’t seem to muster up love and vision for the people and place of ministry where you are, the “time to go” light may be flashing.

3. Your family begins to suffer beyond the normal risk/sacrifice ratio required for ministry.

There is a delicate balance between one’s responsibility to provide for one’s family and the necessity for one’s family to make certain sacrifices for the sake of the call. When the balance tips in the direction of not being healthy for your family, it may be an indicator that a search for a new place of ministry is in order.

It’s much easier to move into a new ministry than to get a new family.

4. The advice and counsel of Godly, trusted people outside of your ministry suggest you consider a move.

Sometimes an outside perspective from someone who has nothing to gain but the joy of seeing you succeed can bring insight you might never discover on your own. If you are wrestling with the issue of staying or moving on from your current ministry, find wise advisers who can keep things in confidence and give you their take on things. (Be sure to have a good wisdom filter in place when you do so.)

But when these good people suggest that you consider the possibility of moving “out of the blue” as it were, without any prompting from you – it may indicate that it’s time to consider packing up and heading out.

5. You can no longer honestly follow or support the leadership.

Obviously, this assumes that you are not the lead guy. But if you find that there are “one too many” things that you can’t see eye to eye on with the leadership, it’s most likely time to get going.

The longer you stay, the more unhappy and ineffective you, the leadership and the church will become. Better to part ways in a God honoring way than to allow things to boil.

6. You’re at an impenetrable brick wall.

Basically, this is when you have no support, are not received well, or your opportunity for success has passed. Nothing seems to work. There is no progress and no impression from God that you need to stay the course and keep hammering away.

I believe these times are similar to the situation that Jesus described to His disciples in Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11 and Luke 9:5 – Essentially, if no one listens to you and you are not welcomed, “shake the dust” of your sandals and move on.

Again, all of these possible “indicators” are just that – “possible.” Please understand that they could also simply be distractions from your calling or mission, or “red light indicators” that something in your life, family or ministry is in trouble and needs attention.

As with all things, praying, fasting and seeking God’s direction continuously can help bring clarity and focus to your situation.

Don’t waste your life banging your head against a brick wall. If God wants you to stay He will give you that conviction, but if not – the fields are white for harvest and there are people everywhere who need Jesus.

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 Johnny Leckie is a Christ Follower, Husband to Leona, and Father to MatthewMelissa & Michael. He is also a Church Planting Pastor, Musician, Artist, & Blogger. He’s a big fan of Coffee & Bacon and is currently planting a Church in Aurora, Colorado called Compass Church.  He is the founder of MinistryBackpack.com.