Fulfillment and Frustration
As a pastor, what do you experience (practically speaking) that makes your work fulfilling? What contributes to you having a great day? Also, what do you experience (practically speaking) that makes your work frustrating? What contributes to you having a really challenging day?
Pastor Walker Schurz – Lusaka, Zambia
Many times, I see that my fulfillment and frustration in ministry comes from operating in my gifts and seeing fruit from my labor. For various reasons, I have had to do ministry work in areas where I am not gifted. While it is important to learn what you are not anointed to do, it also comes with internal pain. Another horrible side effect is that those to whom you serve are not getting much benefit.
Thankfully, over time, I am now able to spend more time in areas where I know God has called me and gifted me to operate. There is a passion and fulfillment of living in your sweet spot. It feels right in your heart and the results are wonderful. I am able to see God change and transform lives and I have the joy of knowing that I partnered with Him to make it happen.
I would agree with the apostle John, that I have no greater joy to see my children walk in the truth. Not just know it or say it, but live it out from their hearts in the real world. To see lives affected by Gods love and grace, walking with Jesus and living their faith—thats the payoff. Rich Mullins sang years ago, “and I see a people who have learned to walk in faith, with mercy in their hearts and glory on their faces.” I am now getting to see that with my eyes more and more—oh, its wonderful!
Paul had a similar sentiment in Philippians 4:1: “I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.”
Pastor Bernie Samples – Barstow, CA
1. The most fulfilling thing to me as a pastor is seeing people’s lives changed for the better by putting into practice the Biblical Principles that we teach! The great apostle John said it best in 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
2. A great day for me is having good Word and prayer time early in the morning and then taking care of natural things like yard work, tinkering in my little work shop, etc.
On office days, it’s time with the Lord then whatever meetings, reports, phone calls, etc. Lunch with my beautiful wife and whatever comes up next.
3. What makes work frustrating is when leaders turn reports in late and I find out about a problem after the fact and it’s too late to fix it.
4. I have a really challenging day if I haven’t prepared myself in the Word and prayer. This only happens if I get side tracked by to many natural things like television or working on church or home projects. I love to work with my hands and fix and remodel things. As long as I keep my priorities in order I can handle anything and everything through Christ who loves me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20!!!
Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA
Honestly speaking, I never consider my days as being great and fulfilling or frustrating and challenging. I just take each day as it comes and thank God for providing the grace to meet the demands of the day whatever they may be. That being said, one of the things that would contribute to having a great day would be recently receiving a thank you note that stated “weve never been to a church that makes its members feel so special.” Statements like these are uplifting and encouraging. On the other hand, when you invest time effort, energy, finances and do everything you can to help people, only to be told you havent done enough so theyre leaving the church, and if youre not confident in God, you might be open to becoming frustrated. Also, having to correct staff members or facing the difficulty of lettings staff go because of their unwillingness to comply with our churchs vision can present some challenges. The important thing is not to let our emotions control us. If we do, life will be a roller coaster ride. If not, well be steady, calm and living a life of perfect peace.
Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI
Fulfillment and Frustration are two words that summarize many of my days. Im not sure I ever have one without the other being somewhere around the corner. It seems like fulfillment and frustration are kind of like peanut butter and jelly in the life of a leader—the two kind of go together.
So, what makes my work fulfilling and contributes to me having a great day? Anytime I reach a goal or can see substantial progress toward a goal—that is fulfilling! But we know that great goals take time to reach, so to be fulfilled while Im on the way to reaching a goal, I try and build people moments into my days. All we do is about people and when Im able to represent the Kingdom by loving on some people—I find that fulfilling. It could be lunch with a staff member, time with family, or a cup of coffee with a person I desire to see come to know the Lord. Sometimes its mentoring moments with young leaders, or the times I volunteer at a local childrens home helping a young man who has no family to understand that he is loved by the Father. I try to always bookend my days with moments in the secret place. My day will start with moments in God’s Word, prayer, and the awesome moments of listening to the Fathers voice as He speaks to my heart. One word from God is a game—changer every time. One word from God, one divine solution, one encouraging word, one strategic plan from heaven in those moments, makes my day! And there couldn’t be a better way to end my day than to bask in the secret place as I doze off to sleep.
What makes my work frustrating and makes for a really challenging day? When goals are not reached or when progress is not being made…or made fast enough. That’s the big one for me. It’s in those moments I have to trust the Lord, make sure I have a plan from the Lord and know that I’m on target with the direction the Lord has given me. I have to learn how to not hate the wait—the time between when the vision is given and when it becomes reality. And then there are those times when I have to deal with drama, such as a staff member who needs to go. When people bring me problems without solutions, I want to pull my hair out…or pull their hair out! It’s frustrating when I get a letter that starts with, Pastor Kevin I appreciate you, but…and then goes on to tell me everything someone doesn’t like in the church.
“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Josephs character.”
What you do when you enter the frustrating moments of life is key to your future! Frustrating moments are often testing moments. Joseph had a dream of greatness, yet found himself in prison where the Lord tested his character. THEN, the Lord moved him from a prison to the palace! First came the test, the frustration… then came the promotion! If you are feeling frustrated today, be encouraged that you may very well be in the process of being positioned for promotion!
Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA
As I considered this question, it became extremely clear to me that the experiences that I find most fulfilling share a commonality with the experiences that I find most frustrating. When I’m having what I would consider to be a tremendously wonderful day…PEOPLE are involved. Likewise, when I’m experiencing a particularly challenging day…PEOPLE are involved.
What is that turns my crank – pops my tart — creams my coffee — peppers my steak — chills my freezer — trips my trigger — or just makes my heart twitter-pate? The contributing factors of a Great Day (at least in my world) have much less to do with the normal measurements of success than many might recognize or understand. Believe it or not, a great day does not depend on whether or not the weekend offerings were big enough (they NEVER are!). The “combined service head-count totals” don’t dictate the upward (or downward) swing of my mood, either. The things that really make a difference in my week are much more subtle than any of the numbers the growth team are tracking in the back office.
I hope this doesn’t sound overly suspicious or hyper-spiritual, but the thing that truly is going to make it or break it, for me, is the attitude of the people closest to me. If my team is demonstrating agreement with each other, I literally can breathe much easier. There is always going to be side-show distractions amongst the members of the church. The “drama in the pajama” is just a part of the over-all gig, and I get it. But when the members of “my team” are seemingly at each other’s throats…huge offerings aren’t going to make the difference, for me. I can’t relax when there’s infighting amongst the ranks. In order for me to “get a breath,” I need my team to “get along.” And on the days that they take it even deeper — when they’re not just “liking” one another, but theyre actually “loving each other” — those are the days I’m loving life!
When key members of my world are simply doing life with each other and enjoying it …MY LIFE BECOMES ENJOYABLE! When convenience is replaced with conviction and personal preference is put aside to make room for powerful purpose…MY LIFE IS MADE BETTER!
I don’t like doing life alone. I love doing life with others.
I’ve learned that together we are better — but left alone, we get bitter. My day is made better when others are motivated to walk beside me. My day is made miserable when others aren’t motivated. When others willingly perform a task for me…it’s amazing. When others are only willing if they can perform the task with me…it’s annoying. When my team celebrates each other…as a leader, I feel celebrated. When my team complains about each other…I plan to fire them all. When my team complains to each other…I carry out my plan.
Pastor Duane Hanson – Saint Paul, MN
After thinking about this question for some time, I realized I was hung up on the contrast of a “great day,” as compared to a “really challenging day.” I realized my approach to ministry is based on what I would describe as a long term perspective, and not from a “day-to-day” point of view. In fact, I think some of my more challenging days have actually turned out to be some of my best days (at least by the time the clock struck midnight)! With that in mind, it will be easier for me to approach this month’s question from the perspective of what “makes your work fulfilling,” or what makes your work frustrating. I can identify with these more broader concepts than the day-to-day aspect.
I’ll start first with the subject of frustration. When I’ve allowed disappointment to creep into my attitude while dealing with something specific going on at the church, or a challenging project, or a difficult person, I’ve found myself sinking into a potentially negative and critical attitude that can be very dangerous. Thankfully I’ve learned to catch myself when I start to slip into that negative arena and will quickly make the necessary attitude adjustments.
I’m in a position in our community that allows me to be involved in the lives of numerous ministers, some of which are from different streams of ministry, or denominations. I must admit that I get most frustrated with some of the Christian Leaders and Ministers I’ve known over the years, who are mature enough to know better, and yet are involved in activities that appear to be contrary to a Christian lifestyle. Obviously, if I’m going to effectively minister and pray with someone, I’ll have to pull myself back from going down that path of frustration, because I realize I’ve taken on a judgmental and critical attitude towards that person. Recognizing my personal fault helps me turn my attitude around and look for ways to speak life and truth into the situation that this person is dealing with. It’s an opportunity for me to become a “doer of the Word” described in Luke 6:41-42. I need to recognize and remove the “plank” from my own eye before I can begin to help remove the “speck” in my brother’s eye!
When it comes to the subject of fulfillment in ministry, there are basically two sides to this issue; the personal side, and the people side. For me personally, I’ve realized that any sense of frustration or fulfillment in life is usually not derived from what others have done, but how I have perceived what they’ve done! My frustrations, or fulfillment, will depend on how I choose to respond to those challenging days, and even the best days.
Around our ministry, we define success in very simple terms.True success is discovering God’s plans & purposes for your life and pursuing them with all your heart! As long as I know I’m walking out God’s will for my life, and I’m pleasing Him in whatever I’m doing, I find that I am very content, satisfied, and personally fulfilled. I’ve also experienced a certain level of personal frustration when I’ve realized that I’m not walking in what I believe is God’s assignment for my life. Whenever I recognize that sense of frustration, I’ll stop and take a quick inventory of where I’m at spiritually, mentally, and physically. I’ve discovered that it’s possible to miss God’s best in all three realms (just hopefully not all three at the same time!), and I may need to make some adjustments to get back on track.
To maintain that sense of confidence and fulfillment, I’ve had to remind myself many times of the words Jesus shared with His disciples the night He was betrayed:
John 16:33 (AMP)
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
When I find myself feeling frustrated with the ministry instead of feeling fulfilled, I need to remind myself that those feelings of frustration come from the stress and tribulations that the World has been throwing at me. Instead, I can stand on the promise from this passage and know that Jesus has overcome and conquered the World on my behalf! I choose to rest in His perfect peace, confidence, and fulfillment!
Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
When I have spent the time in prayer and study and then deliver the message AND see the people’s faces when the revelation comes alive — that is very fulfilling. I’m not a teacher if no one is learning. It is fulfilling to have someone come up after service and repeat a part of the message that you know that you almost left out, but it kept scratching you on the inside — only to find out it was the ‘rhema’ word for someone that day. It is fulfilling when neighborhood children have been faithful to attend and then one day their parents or grandparents follow them to church. It is fulfilling to learn so much while I am preparing a message that I feel like it was all for me and I still get to share it with others. It is fulfilling to watch my children grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and not fall into any of the traps of ‘preacher’s kids’. It is fulfilling to pastor a church with my wife as co-pastor. It is fulfilling every time that someone gives their heart to the Lord or gets healed or is set free from addiction, etc. It is fulfilling to know that I am in the family of God.
There are various contributing factors to having a frustrating day. None of us are perfect. I know that we are supposed to cast all of these cares upon the Lord and not bow to frustration. So, on the way to casting the cares (ha-ha) there are a few things that try to put care into our lives. It can be frustrating to have amazing revelation from God and are so excited to teach it, and then you have a low crowd for one reason or another. You just KNOW that more people could have been helped and that the devil does not want them to get free. It can be frustrating to have too many duties in the real world and your study time is interrupted often. It is frustrating to have THE answer for an unsaved person and they scoff at your good news and walk away.
Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
Every person is made unique with a specific (and limited) set of gifts and has a unique mission to fulfill in the Body of Christ. When we celebrate our gifts and work in our giftedness we find fulfillment and fruitfulness. Frustration is often the result of doing the things we’re not gifted in.
Notice that (for the most part) Joel Osteen does not do pastoral counseling and neither did Brother Hagin. It doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be good at it; it’s just that they stayed in the areas where they’re most gifted.
For me, meeting with and praying for individuals, seeing God touch lives, is one of the most satisfying things in ministry. Counseling is an area that works for me.
Smith Wigglesworth advised young ministers to “stay in their line of faith.” No one is gifted at everything. Preach what you know well and what works for you. Arrange your work so that 80% of the time you’re working on the things you’re gifted in and delegate the other chores to people that have those gifts. They’ll enjoy their work and you’ll enjoy yours.
Pastor Guinn Shingleton – Terre Haute, IN
Let’s break this down into the four-part question that it is. First, “what makes your work (as a pastor) fulfilling?”
For me it is simply seeing 3 John 4 being walked out:
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (NASB)
When the truth of God’s Word is being taught from the pulpit, it is for the purpose of developing overcoming, world-changing believers! As ministers of the Gospel, we take great joy in seeing our congregation members take a stand against sickness, poverty, and other attacks from the enemy. Then as they overcome in their lives, they take this liberating Word to those living in spiritual darkness. Just as natural parents take joy in seeing their children overcome obstacles with what they have been taught, the same is true for spiritual children.
Now, “what contributes to you having a great day?” This, to me, can be much more personal. It can include the reading of God’s Word, a refreshing prayer time, or the advancement of a goal that the Lord has given me for my local church. I do not have to achieve a goal or vision each day, but to be personally satisfied I must feel that I have moved in that direction.
Philippians 3:12 (Good News Translation)
“I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.”
The third part is “what do you experience (practically speaking) that makes your work frustrating?” The answer to that would have to be, “whatever the opposite of 3rd John 4 is.”
It is frustrating to see Christians who have sat under the Word and acknowledged that it is true to come apart in a crisis, or worse, to lose their confession because they’ve had a bad day!
Hebrews 10:23 (AMP)
“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.”
I never consider that a person has “missed it” just because they are under attack, but I sometimes marvel at how quickly many Christians wilt when trouble comes. To me it is an indication that they have not “made their own” those truths that they have heard. This happens when personal meditation time has not been applied to the hearing of the Word.
Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Hebrews 2:1 (NLT)
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.” One translation says we “let them slip”, while another says “we may drift away from it (the truth).”
This says to me that being inattentive to the truth we have heard causes us to be careless with how we retain and apply the Word, and therefore, we lose its effectiveness in our life.
Finally, “what contributes to you having a really challenging day?” Since our lives are not only affected by our ministry, I am challenged by my personal walk as a Christian as it relates to my behavior and effectiveness in the world. I hold myself to a higher mark than someone not in full-time ministry so my challenge is to remember that daily as I deal with the world.
My personal life also includes my wife, sons, and nine grandchildren. Anything that affects them, affects me. I am challenged daily to remind myself that the same Word of God that I teach to congregation members also applies to me. I don’t receive a “free pass” or a “Get out of jail free” card when it comes to personally applying Bible truths.
So a “challenging day” is any day where the enemy comes against myself or my family, which allows me to either let God’s Word rise up mightily on the inside of me and defeat the problem or makes me want to quit. It’s up to me!
Joshua 24:15 (KJV)
“… choose you this day whom ye will serve; …but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Pastor Jesse Zepeda – Pflugerville, TX
What makes my calling fulfilling is the same thing that makes it frustrating—2 Corinthians 5:17: new creatures!
When believers allow Jesus to change their lives into followers, that’s fulfilling!
When believers stay carnal and will not allow Jesus to change their lives, that’s frustrating!
I read somewhere that great players make bad coaches because they expect all players to dedicate themselves as much as they did. I guess that’s me. I expect believers to keep growing in Jesus and to begin following Him.
1. Go in the same direction as Jesus.
2. Agree with everything He says.
3. Do what Jesus says to do.
That’s a follower!