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I pray these concise, but powerful insights on the importance of remembering your calling when things get tough encourage you.


Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. —2 CORINTHIANS 11:28

Pastoral ministry isn’t easy. I cannot count the number of times I’ve said to myself over the years, “There must be a better way to make a living.” Anyone who has been in ministry for any length of time and is honest will tell you the same thing. In a real way, being in pastoral ministry can be a spiritual liability. You set yourself up for disappointment, disillusionment, and criticism. In those difficult times, it’s imperative to remember why you got into this in the first place.

It’s at those times that I am also grateful to John for telling me not to go into ministry unless I couldn’t do anything else. As a zealous, passionate young Christian, I would think my pastor would do all he could to encourage me toward ministry. And John did. However, he never painted an unrealistic or overly rosy picture of what ministry would be like. Conversely, he was blunt and honest about it, telling eager young leaders like me, “Don’t go into ministry unless you can’t do anything else.” What he meant was that if we had a clear sense of calling and conviction from the Lord and couldn’t possibly envision our lives going any other direction, then, and only then, should we pursue ministry. John understood the practical realities of ministry—not only the disappointments but the time and energy commitment required.

I remember whining to John about how hectic my life was. Shortly after our first daughter was born, I was involved in a pastoral training program called Vineyard Institute for Ministry (VI today). We had classes two nights a week. I was working full time, my wife and I were leading a home group, and my responsibilities with the youth group were also growing. I told John that I was just too busy and that I couldn’t possibly keep up with all of this. He looked at me, smiled, then said, “Welcome to the ministry.”

I gave him that glazed-over, deer-in-the-headlights look, and he said, “This is what the rest of your life will be like if you choose to go into ministry: you will always be busy, most likely always be tired, and quite often be a little overwhelmed.” He was right. I’ve been in pastoral ministry for thirty-four years and found that regardless of what season of life or stage of ministry we’re in, it’s always busy. Even a master delegator will find he or she has lots to do. Ministry seems to have a way of multiplying itself. In truth, it’s just a busy lifestyle. If you’re good at it, you’ll be available to people, especially those in crisis. You work nights and weekends by default and probably wear multiple hats in the context of your local church. I like to tell young people who ask about what being in ministry is like, “This job is a lot of things, but it’s not boring.”

Donna and I have learned a lot in thirty-four years. We review our calendar monthly, plan ahead for family time, date nights, and vacations. We set boundaries and develop rhythms of life and ministry. But we’ve also let go of the myth that “once we get past this next season, things will slow down.” We realize that our lives are busy. We’ve accepted and embraced that. Honestly, it’s a joy to look back on the lives we’ve been able to impact, the opportunities we’ve had to experience God and to help others experience him as well. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want to look back on my life and think, “I wish I’d . . .”

Ministry isn’t for everyone. An assurance of a genuine call is essential. If you’re married, commitment from both spouses is absolutely essential. A willingness to live sacrificially is part of the deal.

But, if you can’t do anything else, it’s a pretty good use of your life.

— Pastor Glenn Schroder

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