Fulfillment and Frustration
As a pastor, what do you find to be the most fulfilling part of your ministry? What is the most frustrating thing you experience in ministry? How do you keep the frustrating part(s) from getting you down?
Pastor Stan Saunders – Chillicothe, MO
The most fulfilling part of ministry is helping a person who is far away from God in becoming a spiritually mature zealot for the cause of Christ. The most frustrating part of ministry is changing the stinky diapers of twenty year old baby Christians. We train our seasoned saints to feed themselves, so we can give our time and attention to the true babes in Christ. This reduces the frustration. There is nothing more refreshing in ministry than giving birth to new believers and helping them grow in Christ. There is nothing more frustrating than when supposed mature believers act like adolescents.
Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA
In my world, nothing compares to witnessing true transformation in the life of any given individual. When the eyes of our understanding are enlightened and suddenly we are enabled to clearly see that which had been previously unseen, fulfillment begins to flow.
A young couple in our church comes to mind even as I write this response. They came to our church 3 or 4 years ago and it was immediately apparent that they were in trouble in many areas of their life. Their countenance was so low and it was painful to view their incredible lack of any joy, peace, or comfort. However, it wasn’t long until they were soaking everything in like a couple of sponges. As they began their journey as Followers of Christ, their passion for Truth became a driving force. In the beginning, their lives, like most of their possessions, were a mess but their ability to desire something better was healthy and intact. To make a long story short, today they are taking advantage of every training session they can sneak into and are quickly growing into inspired leaders and true servants in the house. They’ve successfully repaired their marriage, built a lucrative business that employs several others and catapulted themselves not to a “new level” of life, but into a totally “new lifestyle” altogether – one that glorifies God. This is what I LOVE about my job!
The frustration of my job, on the other hand, is watching people suffer needlessly. It’s frustrating to share insight and revelation on a weekly basis with individuals who have no real commitment to actually applying any of the Godly instruction they receive. They are satisfied with information and unaware of the possibility of transformation.
We are faced with a society that is very “consumer oriented.” Many come to church expecting only to be entertained and occasionally inspired. They’re not actually looking for the opportunity to change and grow; therefore, they often accept a life that is less than the God-Life that is available to them. They unfortunately have yet to realize that we have more life than death, more joy than sorrow, more health than sickness, more prosperity than poverty, more hope than despair, and the product of their life is a daily manifestation of ignorant defeat. THAT IS FRUSTRATING!
I truly don’t mind the day-to-day issues with carnality and pettiness amongst people who are open to change. It’s the ones that wish to justify their lifestyle and dig their heels in that really offend me.
Every day ministry offers the opportunity to demonstrate satan’s defeat and I LOVE IT! Problems aren’t the issue…Belief Systems are. Realizing that some people are ready for change and others just simply aren’t helps me to stay focused on the fulfilling part of the ministry. I constantly look for the people who are truly pressing in and I throw myself into assisting them develop a life-style that will humiliate hell. I have learned to refuse myself the luxury of developing series of teaching that comforts the satisfied. I preach and teach to the top 10 percent and allow the rest to listen in. I attempt to give myself to lifting those who are reaching upward in hope that others will eventually catch on. This keeps me from allowing frustrations to dictate my thought processes and keeps me focused on developing positive change in the lives of those that I’ve been called to lead. Throw in a couple of rides on the Harley and a golf game or two every now and then, and I’m able to enjoy life in abundance, to the top, till it overflows!
Pastor John Lowe – Warsaw, IN
The most fulfilling thing for us is to see transformation at any time in the spiritual journey of people. For some, it is the moment of salvation, others deliverance of habitual addiction; the rescuing of a marriage, or the restoration of a family – that moment where everyone in attendance knows that “this is Jesus.” It could be seeing a kid excited about VBS, his Bible verse award, or a teen walking by and giving the look, “hey, I brought my friend we prayed about, pastor.” Yeah, the glory of transformation.
Frustration – people who are willingly in their own deception, pride, or ignorance to a degree are willing to destroy someone else over stupid perceptions of who is wrong or right, spiritual etc. The inability for them to see, and there is a transformation here, like a conception of an egg in the womb, which if left alone has everything required to produce a beautiful life in Jesus. People need to let people alone in the process of transformation.
Getting over it? I holster my pistol and don’t shoot anyone (just kidding). I give the whole situation to Jesus and remind myself that perhaps that idiot is in the process of his own transformation, so leave them alone. Jesus is not done with them yet either. They too are on a journey. He won’t leave them alone.
Pastor Rob Wynne – Linden, AL
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” It is very important to focus on what you are, have, and can do in Jesus. Be positive.
The most frustrating part of pastoring is when people will not allow me to help them. The most needy [spiritually, physically and mentally] will not attend church with any regularity but want special attention when they want it, if at all.
I take my own advice. If I need someone to bounce things off, I have other ministers from RMAI and Brother Tony that I confide in. I focus on the things that the Lord and I can change. When folks were kicking, I didn’t give them any airtime. I dealt with it very quietly so it would not disturb the sheep and presented the things that were happening that were positive. I also have positive outlets: my wife of 37 years, my children and grandchildren, and I play golf. I consider myself to be in constant contact with my Lord. I choose to be full of joy and peace. I keep myself stirred up in the Lord.
Pastor Phil Edwards – Ennice, NC
The most fulfilling is to watch people grow and begin to realize who they are in Christ. The greatest frustration is not being able to close the back door. I would love to retain more of those who come.
Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
The most fulfilling part is to see faith kick in where doubt had been. I like to see people’s countenance change right during the service. You can tell when the revelation of the Word has taken place. I like it when someone comes in and is teachable. It is fulfilling to feed a hungry person with God’s Word.
The most frustrating part is to have people sit under the Word for a long time and be able to quote what you teach, but they are not a doer of the Word, therefore they stay frustrated and bear no fruit.
I encourage myself in the Word and I never quit trying to teach the ones who have ‘deceived themselves’. That is how I keep frustration down.
Pastor Al Jennings – Fort Wayne, IN
1Pet. 5:7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
The most fulfilling part of the ministry for me is the people and hearing the testimonies about how the ministry has blessed them in some way. That’s the best part.
Although challenges come in the ministry, I don’t allow the challenges to turn into frustrations. One of my biggest challenges is probably when people in leadership leave the ministry. The way that I keep challenges from getting me down is by first, knowing that the Word says I always have victory in all things (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14) and I walk by faith, not by the circumstances (2 Cor. 5:7). Secondly, realizing that it’s the Lord’s work and not mine; that the people belong to the Lord and not to me. At the end of the day, as Pastors we are under-shepherds under Jesus. I’ve learned to cast my cares on the Lord and not carry the ministry myself. We are not built or equipped to carry the burdens of the ministry, but God is. Knowing that the work belongs to God keeps frustration away.
Pastor Ray Almgaguer – Glendora, CA
As a pastor, the most fulfilling part of ministry for me is seeing people grow. I absolutely live for this. Ephesians 4:12 NLT tells us that God gave pastors “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” It is so thrilling for me to watch the Word of God work in someone, to see them go from unbeliever to new believer to mature believer, discovering who they are in Christ, and serving in the body of Christ.
On the other hand, the most frustrating part of ministry for me is when people don’t grow. Spiritual growth is a choice; it’s not automatic, and anyone can choose to grow. In the same way, people can choose not to grow. As a pastor, I see potential in everybody. I try to find a way to encourage everyone I can. I believe in people. I find it very frustrating when they don’t believe in themselves, in who they are in Christ, and instead choose to believe some lie about themselves.
I find it frustrating when people stop growing. Proverbs 19:3 NLT says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.” I’ve seen people do that more times than I can count, and I find it to be very frustrating.
Here’s the way I keep the frustrating part from getting me down: I have to look in the right direction. By that I mean I must keep my focus on the people who have made the choice to grow. I don’t ignore the ones who are not growing, I love them. I just keep my focus on the ones who are growing. They have made a commitment to grow and I will do all I can to help them in any way I can.
I believe it is crucial for leaders to understand this. If we only dwell on the disappointments (and we will have plenty of them), we will soon drown in discouragement. We must keep our eyes on the victories.
Pastor Timothy Kutz – Bartlesville, OK
There are so many fulfilling aspects of pastoring; they really answer the second part of the question. As a pastor, the frustrations come, but if you stay focused on the things that you accomplish and realize that you are standing in a place that God set you, to be a person of significance, you will be able to weather the frustrations. One of the most fulfilling things in pastoring is giving someone something to “hang their hat on,” and then watching them do it! Paul said that he didn’t desire a gift, but he desired fruit that would abound to their account. One of the purposes of the local church is to give people a place where they can be part of something that is bigger than themselves. Some understand this and fulfill the call on their life to give of themselves and serve, and some do not. It is very fulfilling watching people step up, and then watch the blessing of God come on them. One of the hardest things to do as a pastor is to know “how” to tell people the truth. We don’t just need to speak the truth, but we need to speak the truth “in love.” Anyone can beat someone else over the head with the Bible (Bible scriptures). But it takes a person who cares to take the time to say something to someone that can most generally be received by them because of the manner in which it was offered. That is a very big part of what the heart of a shepherd is. There are times for you to reach down and pick up the grossest of sinners and tell them that you do not condemn them, and there are times when you have to “fashion a whip” and drive out the money changers. As pastors, 99.9% of our time should be spent on the former.
The most frustrating thing that I have encountered as a pastor is when you know you have taken the time to give the truth to people in the “right” way and you know that if they will just listen and put it into practice it will get them out of the pit they are in, and then they ignore it and go on and reap things in their life that bring destruction to them and their families. For me, this is especially hard when I see people with younger children that grow up to resent God because of their parent’s lack of meekness (being teachable). You can’t live people’s lives for them. The vast majority of the people in your church are not as mature as they think they are. You are there for all of them. Just keep being a pastor after God’s heart! When you know John 10:11 as well or better than you know John 10:10 you will be able to handle anything that comes, and you will celebrate the victories more than morn the setbacks.
Pastor Chris Pugh – Parkersburg, WV
Besides the obvious answer of seeing someone give their hearts to the Lord, for me, the most fulfilling part of ministry is seeing someone “get it;” when the light goes on, the truth sinks down into their heart and you see them walking in who and what they are in Christ. For example, a few years ago, we had a couple begin attending the church who had come from a denominational background. The husband was rather closed off to certain things of a Charismatic church and made his opinion clear. He loved the teaching and that’s what kept him coming back. But, as he has stayed open to and allowed the Word to work in him, he is now open in his worship, walking in the Word, and in fact, leading our youth program. I recently asked him if I could read his notebook and it really blessed me to see the things that he had gleaned from my teaching as well as the insights he had added to what I had said. I guess I could cite example after example, but again, seeing people accept the Word and begin to walk in it is greatly fulfilling to me.
With that in mind, I would have to say that the thing that probably brings me the most frustration is when you pour your life into someone’s life, they begin to walk in the Word as well, they begin to see the Lord move in their lives, and then they fade away from church. Unfortunately, I have seen this way too many times in my ministry. For instance, we have had the Lord move mightily in the lives of a couple of families in the last few months. We taught them the Word, prayed with them, believed with them and stood with them. For one family, the Lord blessed them both with good jobs, and now they’re “too tired” or “too busy” to make it to church. Another family was blessed with a nice house as well as a good job and they too have “fallen off the radar.” For whatever reason, instead of allowing the goodness of the Lord to inspire them to an even deeper walk with Him, they allow things to pull them away from the source of their blessing. I believe every Pastor has had this happen many times and can identify with the frustration that things like this leads to.
The way I deal with this is really rather simple. I may feel a little let down and disappointed for a while, but then I look at the ones who are “getting it” and allow that to offset any feelings of frustration I may have. Also, I do my best to “encourage myself in Lord.” As much as my heart aches for those who have drifted away, I do my best to let them know that they are always welcome, that we care about them and still call and check in every so often. Also, quite a while ago I heard my Pastor say that every Pastor needs to develop the “tenth Fruit of the Spirit”—the fruit of “letting them go.” I am steadily growing this fruit for myself. An Elder in my church gave me an excerpt from a sermon by TD Jakes that I keep in my Bible and read every so often. One line of it says, “When people leave you, let them go. It probably just means that your chapter in their life is over, and if you stay focused on the fact that they left you, it will only lead to frustration in your life.” That’s good advice.
One final thing that helps me deal with frustration is simply this; I was reading my Bible several years ago and I read at the end of Matthew (28:17), “when they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some were doubtful.” The Lord spoke to my heart and said this, “See, even I couldn’t get everyone on the same page.” So I have always done my best to not allow the frustration to become my focus, but to simply keep my eyes on the prize, do the best I can and like the song in the Jungle Book movie says, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, that’s what it’s all about.”
Pastor Doug Bird – Roseville, CA
The most fulfilling part of ministry is helping people. The most frustrating part of ministry is people! I heard John Maxwell say many years ago, “People are the problem, and people are the answer.”
The way you keep from being frustrated is always knowing we are in the people business and people have issues. As I’ve heard it said, “I’ve got issues; you’ve got issues; all God’s children got issues!”
So I always try to remind myself to live big and don’t let small, petty people issues bring you down. I remind myself to walk in love and never take things personally.
Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA
The most fulfilling part of our ministry is to see the lost saved, established in the gospel, trained for ministry, and then released to pursue God’s specific plan for their lives. This may involve being called to a full-time ministry position or being equipped to be a shining light as an individual, spouse, parent, student, employer, employee or friend. We’ve had many who have gone out from among us to start churches or enter other full-time ministry positions and it’s so fulfilling to know we’ve played a part in helping them along the way.
Another area that’s extremely fulfilling is helping people overcome life’s challenges. Many have been healed of incurable diseases, marriages have been restored, wayward children have come back home and renewed their commitment to Christ. Addicts have been delivered, fears have been overcome and many are learning to walk in victory by applying the principles of God’s Word to their lives in a practical way.
I prevent myself from becoming frustrated in ministry by reminding myself that when you yoke up with Jesus, the yoke is easy and the burden is light. This means if what I’m doing is hard and heavy, then maybe I’m not listening to God or I’m placing on my shoulders what I should be giving to God. Waiting on the Lord renews strength and helps us fulfill our call with spiritual powers, not physical or emotional. Remember, rest was God’s idea, not man’s. God rested. Jesus rested. He encouraged his disciples to rest, and we too are to take time to rest and be refreshed spiritually.
Thirty-two years ago God spoke to me in an audible voice saying, “You are the next Pastor of that church.” I told the Lord that I didn’t feel qualified but if that’s what He wanted, I’d be glad to do it. I also stated that all I could do is love everyone, teach them what He teaches me, and depend on the Holy Spirit to move upon our hearts and lead us into making the adjustments necessary to accomplish His purpose for this ministry.
I choose not to get frustrated. I refuse to get frustrated. God is wiser and smarter than I am. If He can’t get the job done, then nobody can. I live by Phil. 4:13. “I,” it’s personal; “can,” it’s positive; “do,” it’s practical; “all things,” it’s pervasive; “through Christ,” it’s providential; “who strengthens me,” it’s powerful.
There are many opportunities to get frustrated if we allow our emotions to control our lives. Allowing the life, nature and character of God to dominate us will prevent us from being overcome by frustration.
Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
The most fulfilling part of ministry is seeing God change people’s lives and see them give praise back to God for what He’s done for them. This comes as we stay closer to people than office work. It also happens when we minister from our strengths. Working in the areas we’re gifted in is a great joy, while delegating what we can’t do, hate to do, or just plain don’t do well, is always helpful. There are plenty of times when we have to do things we’d rather not, but they’re just part of getting the job done. However, the joy is in doing things we’re graced to do well.
We’re now doing more overseas ministry. It’s stretching us and challenging us in new ways that keeps ministry from becoming routine. It’s been fun and exciting. We also do children’s chapel services at the local Christian School. It’s very well received and always puts a smile on everyone’s face.
The frustrating parts are the ones we lift up in prayer on a regular basis. We’re seeing God’s faithfulness to answer these prayers. We know that we’re in a spiritual battle with opposition. So we fight these battles in prayer and not with people. As a pastor, we regularly need to pray for finances, for our worship team, for volunteers, for our family, and for the needs of the people. As we do that faithfully, we see God’s faithful answers in these areas.
Stay focused on what is working rather than the frustrations. Keep praying. Finish your course with joy! of ministry for me is the apathy that I see in many Christians. I also get frustrated when I observe people who have been Christians for many years still acting like unsaved people…gossiping, backbiting, and the like. The way I deal with this frustration is to keep my focus on Jesus. I keep in mind that just because some Christians don’t act according to the Word of God, that it does not change the fact that Jesus is wonderful and He remains the same yesterday, today and forever.
Pastor Terry Scheel – Fenton, MO
The most fulfilling part of ministry for me is when sinners get saved. I am also fulfilled when Christians come to church expectantly to hear the Word of God and then put that Word into practice in their lives. As a result of putting the Word of God into practice, I get excited when I see Christians walk in victory.
On the other hand, the most frustrating part