“Why do you ask me where I am going to take you, if you don’t actually want to be there?”
I remember asking God, “Well what do you mean….of course I want to be wherever you send me.” And He clearly said; “Yeah, but you have no joy in serving me. It’s just a way to pay the bills and provide for your family. Remember, I called you to this.”
And it was in that moment, that it all became clear. I had struggled for so long to find balance in my life. Balance between being a good leader in my home and at my church. Between being a loving husband/father and available caring pastor. Because I had forgotten that God had called me to the work, and I was operating out of obligation instead of calling.
There are two approaches to take when it comes to ministry. You can either view it as an obligation [a job that pays the bills] or a calling [something that fills you with joy as you walk in it].
If you take the approach that ministry is an obligation, you will at some point feel the burden that comes along with jobs. You will feel the pressure that jobs bring. And you will at some point lose the joy you once had in serving. It will simply become what pays your rent and keeps you busy Monday-Friday from 9:00-5:00. I can think of a hundred other ways to fill time that are less stressful, less weighty and just downright easy.
However, take a moment and think back to when you first entered ministry. As you reflect, my guess is that you will have a very clear memory of being called by God. Either He used someone to encourage you in that direction, a friend, a speaker or a conference like Activate. Or maybe even a Scripture or a clear word from Him. But of this, I think we can all be sure, we did not enter ministry as a way to fill our time.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:28]
God calls you according to His purpose. And when God calls you according to His purpose, you can bet there will be joy in that journey. Joy in the good seasons and hard ones. Joy even in the pain that sometimes accompanies ministry. But we were never meant to walk in obligation.
And on that run, where God reminded me that I had been called, according to His purpose at work within me, I felt lighter than I had felt in years. And as a result of being reminded of my call and acknowledging it once again, shortly after God connected me with a loving, relevant, and life-giving church. A church that had been called to work some of the hardest spiritual soil in America and it was undeniable that this was where He was inviting us to next.
And so, my family and I packed up and moved back to New England to fulfill the calling that God placed on our lives to serve His church here. And we haven’t looked back since.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. You are in a hard season and ministry feels like a chore. Like an obligation. You’ve lost the joy. Think back on the time when God first called you. Unless He’s specifically called you out of ministry, you are still meant to be striving towards His purpose. And when you realign your heart with His, the joy will flood in and the peace will flood in and ministry will again become a joy and not a burden. Will you again answer His call?
Kenny Laughters serves as the Location Pastor at Next Level Church Peterborough. There is nothing he loves more in life than God, his beautiful wife Jackie, their three kids, Annabelle, Cohen, and Drew and the community at NLC. He feels blessed to serve under such incredible leadership at NLC and is excited to have a seat at the table of an AMAZING movement of God in the Northeast and beyond.