My husband, a pastor of nearly 40 years, always says, "The best part about ministry is the people ... and the worst part about ministry is the people!"
Now, isn't that the truth?
How I have loved shepherding and encouraging the people under my watch! It is a delight to nurture young believers and to observe them as they grow into maturity in Christ. It is an incredibly fulfilling aspect of ministry to disciple young moms and wives as they begin their journey into raising a family that will make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom.
What joy it brings to comfort the widows and to pray for the sick. Sometimes I can't believe I actually get to do this. It is incredible that the God of the universe has asked me to partner with Him in simply loving the people who are alive at my moment in history.
But there are times when the "people" part of ministry is simply exhausting! When people gossip about the pastor's family or choose to be negative about a church decision, I always wonder, "Why?"
Why would a believer in Jesus Christ choose to exhibit anything less than the fruits of the Spirit in the Body of Christ?
Why would a disciple of the risen Christ choose to criticize someone who was also made in the image of the good, good Father?
Why would a Christian decide to sow seeds of discord in the church?
As one travels along the rocky yet wonderful road of ministry, it is of vital importance to keep one's eyes on Jesus and not on the reactions of people. It is necessary to submit every decision to His wisdom and yet move ahead with power and grace.
I must remind myself that the calling came from the Father and not from His people. The calling came from God and goes to His beloved children. The One you will answer to someday, however, will be Him and not to them. I am merely the conduit of His love and grace.
Remind yourself daily that as you care for His family you are showing your ultimate love for Him.
And while you are at it—remind yourself that Job's friends discouraged him ... Moses was betrayed ... Joseph was alone ... Paul was stoned ... David was mocked.
Some things never change, and you can assure yourself that as long as we are living and breathing this side of heaven there will be people who question our motives, betray confidences and choose to be negative rather than positive.
So, what should a pastor or a pastor's wife do when dealing with the difficult side of people?
First of all, choose joy! Determine that nothing and no one has the power to deny you of the joy that is a byproduct of His presence. Speak joy. Sing joy. Exhibit joy. Teach joy. Be the joy that someone else needs.
Secondly, never lower yourself to their level of negativity, criticism or gossip. Look for the positive blessing in every person and in every circumstance.
And finally, pray for those who have made it their personal vendetta to attack you. And while you are at it, look for a proactive way of blessing your accusers. Who knows? You might just make a difference in their lives!
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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