We have all heard how hard ministry is on every area of life. People say that there is constant stress, that it is hard on families and marriages, and that you can’t reach financial stability. Sure, there are a million difficult things about ministry, but the truth is it’s an adventure! We get to speak into people’s lives and tell them that the God of heaven loves them. We get to call out God’s purposes in their lives, to encourage them in their families, and to help them be transformed by the presence of God as they follow Jesus. Acknowledging there are some difficulties, I want to give you four truths that I hold onto that help me keep going for the long haul.
You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Your Family
We don’t sacrifice family for ministry. We can sacrifice as a family when we have talked it through and agreed on a plan. My wife Maria and I have operated as a team from the beginning of our ministry. We decide together how we spend our time, energy, and money. For example, one summer I was working at the church a lot, so I ended up taking extended lunches. I would go home and swim with our four small kids. That was our plan to put our kids first for that season.
You Don’t Have to be Perfect
No matter how hard we try, we are not going to please everyone. Sometimes we are going to do it wrong. We’ll hurt someone, lead poorly, or miss God's voice. This is not an excuse to not be good at what you do or to not be fruitful. We do need to work hard at getting better at everything from preaching, to teaching, to sharing the gospel. If you have weaknesses, I encourage you to get training, coaching, and mentoring. What I am saying is we have to come to grips with the fact that doing ministry, even if not done perfectly, is a good thing.
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone.
As we do this thing called ministry, we do it best with others. I have been incredibly blessed over the years to be part of the Vineyard Movement. I’ve gotten to interact with men and women who pastor large and small churches, attend regional gatherings that focus on community, and be involved with other pastors on a regular basis. I have been taught, mentored, equipped, blessed, and incredibly encouraged by these people when ministry seems hard. Don’t forget that there are communities of people supporting and praying for you. Learn to ask and accept help from them.
God Is For You!
When there is stress in our marriage, when finances are tight, or when we’re overwhelmed, it is our relationship with Jesus that keeps us from being tossed to and fro. We must remember that God is for us! He sent Jesus to die for us. He wants us to succeed more than we do. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” That’s not just for other people. We have to hear it for ourselves. The only way we can begin to know that deep in our hearts, where nothing in this world can shake it, is through our relationship with Jesus Christ. Do whatever you have to do to get there.
These simple truths bring me hope, strength and encourage me so I don’t just “keep doing it,” but I walk out doing ministry with joy. What a great adventure it is!
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Ray Duran is the Senior Pastor of the University Vineyard in Fresno, California, as well as the Area Leader for the Central Valley, and he oversees the Argentina Mission Partnership. His passion is to fulfill God’s purposes and help others do the same. Ray and his wife, Maria have four children ages 16-24, Jenna, Jared, Jordan, and Josiah. For fun, they love to go wine tasting and to vacation with their kids.