I started my career in ministry 14 years ago at the young age of 26 with two small children. I was so excited to leave the corporate world behind. The long hours, the deadlines, the stress, the negative people…it would all be different in ministry. In my mind, I envisioned ministry work as this dreamy role where I would go all out for Jesus. I would win souls. I would spend more time in prayer and His word. I would surround myself with people full of joy and together we would change the world. It would be glorious!

Fast forward to 10 years serving as Founder and Executive Director of a ministry serving sexually trafficked teenage girls…

I went all out for Jesus. I won souls. I spent more time in prayer and His word. I surrounded myself with people full of joy and we did change the world (at least our corner of it). It was glorious!

AND….

I questioned Jesus. I became numb to His love of the soul. I neglected prayer and His word. I surrounded myself with difficult people and I did not care about changing the world. I wanted to run away. It was unenjoyable.

IT WAS BOTH…

I explain ministry leadership as being on the mountain and in the valley, at the same time. At least that has been my experience. One day you are living in a glory bubble, rejoicing and celebrating His life changing power. The very next day, you are sobbing before the Lord questioning why He called you to such challenging work? Ministry leadership can be both life-giving and life-draining. Can you relate?

For the past few years, I have been blessed to serve as a coach to faith-based nonprofit leaders. I have pulled away from the intense work of “leading” a ministry. It’s been a welcomed change in my life. In this new season, I have spent countless hours in prayer and reflection of my ministry leadership journey and the question I keep coming back to is this: “Can you live and sustain the abundant life as a ministry leader?”

In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Jesus is not talking about material possessions, he is talking about spiritual abundance. Spiritual abundance is not just a promise for believers in eternity; it’s a promise for us today on earth. In my personal journey to understand the abundant life, particularly as it relates to ministry leadership, I have come to believe it is possible IF you are willing to do these two things.

  1. SURRENDER

This is so much easier said than done. Surrendering means giving “your” ministry back to Him. We often make our plans and ask the Lord to bless them. Letting go of “your” ministry is critical. It was never yours in the first place.  Surrendering means completely trusting God with the outcome. The night before his crucifixion Jesus surrendered himself to God’s plan. He prayed, “Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine” – Mark 14:36

  1. DRINK DEEP

John 4:14 – “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” It’s easy to fill ourselves with acts of service. We can become intoxicated with doing good. As ministry leaders, we often wear many hats and if we are not careful we can find ourselves on the hamster wheel of striving. Stop and ask yourself: What does your soul crave? Are you thirsty? Do you desire to drink deep of the living water?

The bottom line is this…

We simply cannot sustain in ministry leadership with a depleted soul and we certainly can’t experience spiritual abundance.

My prayer for you…

I pray you will find time to slow down, tend to your soul and surrender to His plan for you. I pray you will drink deep from your experiences and encounters with God and “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. – Isaiah 12: 3

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services

emily@ministryventures.org

www.MinistryVentures.org