Most ministers I know, if they are brutally honest, will tell you that they are frequently haunted by the question, “Why don’t you just quit?”
Serving the Lord as a preacher comes with a unique set of struggles. There are the personal struggles. Trying to live a life worthy of our calling is difficult. I know people look up to me and there is continual pressure not to fall. There are the spiritual struggles with sin that try to trip me up on my walk with the Lord. Temptation is around every corner and waiting to pounce. That temptation might be in the form of sexual sin or anger or pride or even the idolatry of ministry success. There are the professional struggles that come with the ministry. I know that every word I say and write will come under analysis. People will check my Biblical accuracy, my historical knowledge, my personal devotion, and my attitude while hoping to be challenged and entertained. On top of everything else are added the family struggles and financial struggles that all of us face.
Each week comes with its own set of questions and criticisms that can drain the joy out of life and leave me feeling alone. Many of us who are called to preach dream about the possibility of leaving the ministry for something less stressful.
So why do I continue to do it?
1. I am deeply committed to Jesus. I am not saying this to sound arrogant. I chose ministry because I am 100% convinced that Jesus came, lived, died and was resurrected. He is God in the flesh and will be the final judge of all people. I will answer for my life to him and him alone. To choose to do any less than serve him is the biggest mistake anyone can make.
2. I believe God has gifted me. I don’t know why he did it, but I believe God gave me a gift. I see things differently than other people. I think differently. That gift allows me to put together ideas in a way that makes sense to people. If God entrusted me with a gift, how can I not use it for his glory?
3. I understand that ministry is about service. Jesus told his closest followers that he did not come to be served but to serve. Jesus could have taken his place on a throne and sit back while humanity struggled. Instead, he gave of himself, even to the point of death on a cross. To follow him is to choose a life of sacrificial service.
4. I never know what God will do through me. I have spent year after year hitting my head against the wall of ministry thinking I am wasting my time. Then it happens. One person gets it. They make Jesus their Savior. They change their life. They are transformed in a way that is both dramatic and surprising. I stand in awe of the fact that God allowed me to speak into the life of that person in some way.
Honestly, even if you did not choose to be a preacher, I know all of us face the temptation to quit. The temptation to give up on this Christianity thing and go an easier path. Let’s face it; it sure looks like those outside of Christ are having more fun with less stress.
But each one of us must come back to the elemental truths we believe about Jesus. Do you really believe in the story of the Bible? Do you really believe one day we will stand before an eternal judge? Do you think that it is possible that God might have gifted you? Do you actually believe that God might use you to further his kingdom on earth? If you believe those things, the question is not “Why don’t I quit” but rather “How could I do anything else?”