Frustrations in Ministry…
At times, our work in ministry does not always turn out the way that we had hoped:
My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you! I would like to be with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed because of you. -Galatians 4:19-20, NAB
The metaphor used here of St. Paul giving birth to the faith of the Galatians may seem odd, but it shows how much he truly cared about the Galatians. St. Paul took a very personal interest in their lives, and as difficult as it was to convert the Galatians, he was finding it equally difficult to watch them go in the wrong direction.
Our work in ministry can be difficult to predict. We have little control over those we care for or minister to. In the end, the choices they make are theirs alone, and we can do nothing to change that. So when we see someone sliding after working with them for so long, it can be frustrating.
How can we deal with frustrations in ministry? What do we do when our work seems ineffective?
First of all, realize that the results of our efforts are out of our control. All we can do is plant the seeds, water them, and hope that they fell on fertile soil. We must let the Lord do the rest from there. He is the Master Gardener, and we must trust in His ways.
For some, a natural part of the growing process may include a bit of struggle. Think back to when you first found faith. Did it happen in one, quick motion, or was it more like an inner tug-of-war? Personally, I think the tug-of-war battle never ends. Even the greatest saints struggled with these internal battles in their lives.
The last thing to remember is that it takes time. Developing and maturing in faith is a process, and we cannot expect someone’s faith to mature overnight. We have to trust in God’s long-term plan for their lives. We may not understand why our ministry efforts are struggling at the moment, but the answer will be revealed when the time is right.
Frustrations in ministry are natural. When we care for those we minister to, it can be frustrating to know that the results are out of our hands. All we can do is help them through their inner tug-of-war and wait on God’s timing. Our efforts may not always go according to our plan, but that’s okay, because they will surely go according to God’s.