During my first full-time ministry position, through huge amounts of stress and much turmoil, I learned an important lesson: I was serving in a position that didn’t match my passions and gifts.
There will always be things we need to do that we don’t enjoy, but that is expected not only in ministry, but life. It’s when we are spending the majority of our time doing things that we are not wired to do, that will only ever lead to burnout.
I currently serve in a context that demands three times more effort than my first ministry experience. But I love going to work everyday. Why? Because I spend at least 70% of my available time and energy on the things that I am wired for and that gives me life.
I loved the church I served in all those years ago. I learned so much, and was able to grow tremendously. My lead pastor and the board were extremely gracious with me and sowed into me on a regular basis. The congregation loved my family and we loved them. It was an extremely difficult decision for us to make the transition out.
So what was the problem? I was stuck in a position that I wasn’t built to do and because of that, the church and I suffered for it.
In the end, the church and I needed different things. My gifts were not lining up and I wasn’t able to serve in the capacity that the leadership felt was crucial for the position I was hired to do. I felt as though I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole–it just wasn’t working. I had so much more flex time and a whole lot less responsibility than I have now, but I was so much more stressed, because I was mismatched in my ministry role.
Maybe this resonates with you. Maybe you’re not thriving in your position because what you ‘do’ isn’t who you ‘are’ and the passion has run dry, your drive is all gone and you have nothing left to give. You have found yourself to be miserable and you have become jaded.
I hope my experience can encourage you and possibly give you hope. You don’t need to be stuck in this position and there are other possibilities. Here are four steps that may help you as you consider some possible solutions:
1. Figure out how you are wired and what gives you life.
I am primarily a networker and team builder. I do enjoy many other things and am skilled in preaching, counseling, teaching, training and equipping, but I thrive in networking and team building. When I do spend time doing things I am not gifted in, it drains me. The big difference is I spend at least 70% of my available time and energy on the things that I am wired for and thrive doing.
If you can figure out what gives you life, that will be the first step. Let me also add: don’t feel guilty in wanting to focus on what you love. That is a false humility that has been pushed on the pastorate. And remember, you can’t do everything (but that is point four).
2. Are you able to change your job description?
Over and over again, I would hear the words, you shouldn’t be doing that, it isn’t in your job description, even though I was finding major fruit in it and was thriving. I finally got to the place where I said, then maybe I need a new job description.