How NOT to Deal With Your Frustration In Ministry

Frustration is common in ministry. The pastors who avoid frustration best tend to be best at avoiding preaching the gospel. But if we follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and preach his blood, we will encounter slices of the conflict and opposition that eventually got the Lamb slain.

So the question is not how do I avoid frustration, but how do I deal with it. First, what not to do:

1. Don’t ask your wife to bear your frustration. There is a difference between sharing your frustrations with her, and expecting her bear your frustrations for you.

2. Don’t let it out on your kids by being impatient with them. When things feel out of control at church, it’s easy to compensate by exerting too much control at home.

3. Don’t drown your frustrations in distraction. It’s tempting to take your mind off it with movies, TV, work, or blogging (uh oh).

There are obviously more. Those are simply the ones I have been guilty of. Here’s three ways I am comforted in the midst of frustrations in ministry.

1. Pray. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

2. Remember that I have not suffered to the point of shedding blood (Hebrews 12:4)

3. Count it joy to share in Christ’s sufferings,  looking for how I can know him more through them (Philippians 3:10-11).

These don’t make the causes of frustration go away, nor do they always make the frustration itself go away. But at least we can have peace in the midst of our frustrations, and see them used for our good, and the good of our ministry.

Comments

  1. Jason Miller says:

    How do you deal with frustration when the frustration is with YOURSELF?

    • That’s the question, isn’t it?

      I feel this every week, especially the 2-3 hours after preaching or after a meeting, thinking, “Why did I say that?” or “Why didn’t I say that?” Not to mention the sin that so easily entangles me and makes me doubt my qualification for ministry.

      I’m right with you Jason.

      The gospel is the answer when we are frustrated with ourselves. First of all, God chose us to be his before we ever had the chance to frustrate him, or ourselves. Because Jesus never failed and died in our place, our past, present, and future failures – as many as they are! – are paid for. In the present, the Spirit sanctifies us so that we grow in wisdom and holiness. But the irony is that as we grow in those things, we see even more of what is lacking in us. So our hope turns to Christ’s return, when everything that frustrates us about ourselves (aka, sin) will be done away with forever.

      The trap that we can’t fall into is the idea that we have to live up to a standard that we expect from ourselves. The standard is higher than that. We think if we could hit John Piper status, we wouldn’t be frustrated with ourselves anymore. But God demands Jesus status, which of course we can’t do. We can only believe and trust that what he did counts for us in God’s eyes.

      Then we can joyfully minister, despite our weaknesses, because we know that in them Christ’s power shines.

      Hope that is a help, Jason.

      Blessings,
      Eric