Ever felt that feeling of accomplishment after a great day at work? Ministry work is one of those jobs where you rarely feel that sense of real accomplishment and the work weighs on you 24/7. Ask anyone in ministry they’ll tell you there’s always something to be done or someone in need. And, you rarely feel a sense of accomplishment. That’s why it’s nice being able to do something on the side to meet that desire of accomplishment we all have.
I love doing ministry stuff. Someone asked me, “If money was no object, what would you do differently?” My answer was easy, what I’m doing now just on a higher level. For those who don’t know, I am a bi-vocational missionary in Amsterdam. Basically that means I work another job whilst also working with churches and organizations to minister to youth and families in the area. I do this for several reasons, money and visa being two of them. But, it also gives me that need for a sense of accomplishment and completion.
Accomplishment is something everyone likes to feel. You bake a cake, build a deck, make a sale, send a kid off to university, etc. You set your mind to something, worked hard at it, and saw it come to completion. This is something those of us in ministry hardly ever feel when it comes to ministry stuff (at least most I talk and work with). It’s the nature of dealing with people, especially those in need. I started coaching gymnastics years ago and have continued to coach whilst doing ministry work, hence the picture above. Seeing a girl get a new skill is great for providing that sense of accomplishment. This happens within weeks or months, not years like it’s taken some of the youth I’ve worked with. I’ve just started seeing real growth in some of the youth I worked with over ten years ago. It takes time for them to mature and work out their life. I’m fortunate to still have contact with them over the years and see this happen. Too often those in ministry or the people they work with don’t stick around long enough to see any definitive growth spiritually.
People move around constantly. They often get tired of a church, find a new job, or step away from faith. Working in a predominantly international setting, we see people come and go every three months to three years. This makes it extremely difficult to see any significant growth happen and feel a sense of accomplishment. And as I look at my peers in ministry, most don’t stick with a church or position long enough to see growth. Youth leaders phase out and get “real jobs” or they move up to a senior pastor role. With all this transition happening, it’s tough to see spiritual growth happen. People, organizations, and churches then set other goals to try help meet that desire of accomplishment.
Churches and organizations often lose sight of the real vision and passion for which they began when they start setting “measurable” goals to feel like they’ve accomplished something. They begin acting like a business rather than being in it for the reason they were called. How many more people can we get attending our stuff, how big can we build the next building, how many other sites can we set up, and other tangible goals are distracting people from their true passion and calling. I honestly think this is done because people aren’t feeling that sense of completion or accomplishment that ministry often lacks.
That’s why I love having something else to meet this desire and I suggest to others to find something outside of ministry to meet their need to see something finished. It doesn’t have to be a job. A lot of pastors like golfing to clear their mind and give them a goal to reach. Some have hobbies like fishing or biking. Along with coaching, I also like working with amateur radio. It’s a great hobby that doesn’t take a ton of brain skills, but isn’t just chilling in front of Netflix. Fixing up cars, delivering pizzas, driving for Uber, learning a new language, taking an art class, these are some great examples that can help those of us in ministry feel like we’ve done something at the end of the day, to have that sense of completion. Because let’s face it, sitting through another staff meeting, counseling a person for the hundredth time, and talking to another teen about his porn addiction is great in one sense, but when we crawl into bed at night, there’s still that desire to have actually finished something.