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A Doctor's Warning For "Professional" Ministers (Devotion)

A Doctor's Warning For "Professional" Ministers (Devotion)

By Paul Anleitner on August 14, 2012

I’ll never forget so many things about having out first child. Keri’s labor was excruciating and my son seemed like he was just going to take his good ol’ sweet time to come out. At a couple of points there were some concerns being expressed from the nurses and midwives about the possibility of serious action being taken, so they brought in the doctor.

In he comes, strutting comfortably and relaxed. I don’t remember him expressing the least bit of empathy towards my wife, just straight diagnosis and then into some diatribe on the housing market and sports. It was like he was standing by the water cooler in the office shooting the breeze with the guys like it was no big deal.

Then it really hit me. This guy has probably done this 1,000′s of times in his career. Who knows how many babies he’s going to deliver even in this next night? For us this was the most important moment of our lives, and for him this is business as usual. Just another day at the office.

I guess when you see the most naturally miraculous process in the whole world, the birth of a child, night in and night out for years it tends to get less special, you get calloused to the emotion, you lose your ability to empathize, and you wind up talking about the Vikings and mortgage rates to someone who is about 10 hours into labor.

Those of us in “professional ministry” (meaning you receive financial support to fulfill your calling and mission) have to guard ourselves that we never let the Spirit’s work become simply a profession.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been in “professional ministry” for about 7 years or so and I’ve got to fight this “business as usual” feeling regularly.

I’ve seen some of the most amazing miracles…like some book of Acts stuff. Week in and week out we have people responding to Christ for the first time at Redeeming Love Church where I minister on Sunday mornings. There’s no way I could count the hours I’ve logged being on a platform in leading worship or speaking, and I’m only at years 7 making me the low-man on the totem pole for total number of years on our pastoral staff at the church.

There’s been times when I’ve felt totally tired and burnt out and just went thru the motions in a set. There’s been times when a worship gathering is going into hour 3 and people have been receiving ministry from the pastor or prayer teams up front for like an hour and I’m not moved at all by what’s taking place.

I’m confident most who have been in professional ministry for a long enough time could totally fake a whole church service (and many do) and 90% wouldn’t be able to notice. I know music ministers who went through school and training and were taught how to do certain hand gestures and facial expressions to make it look more like they were really passionately worshipping God.

It happens all the time, and I get why people do that stuff. Can that doctor really allow himself to get emotionally invested in every delivery? I’ve talked with people in special education and others who work with people with severe disabilities, and ask them how they do it every day without crying themselves to sleep every night, and to a certain extent many would answer with some variation of the doctor’s solution.

Don’t let yourself get attached. Put up a wall. Make it just a job.

But we who are entrusted with this great calling can’t make this just our job. I’ve got to guard my heart, to repent when I’ve lost sight of the significance of this great calling, and to allow myself to be moved every time the heart of God is touched, every time I see the miraculous. Paul prays in 2 Thessalonians 1 that God would make us worthy of his calling and that ”by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith….so that the name of Jesus may be glorified in you.

By not treating any opportunity to minister the gospel as “business as usual” and by not building an emotional wall around your heart, you will feel completely spent way more often. You will find your heart going through the full range of emotions as you pour out your all so that someone can experience His love. You will feel more exhausted, and at times heartbroken when the ones you’ve allowed your heart to love fall away or experience loss. But to love like Jesus is to allow this to happen and far more. This kind of love is the love that glorifies the name of Jesus in us and demonstrates that God is making us worthy of this great calling.

Music minister,

When you’ve strapped on your guitar and poured out your heart to God for the 1,000th time it's a brand new time. It's fresh. There’s been nothing in the past truly like this moment. God is near. He is present. He’s living in you. This is a sacred mystery beyond comprehension. Never treat it lightly. Never let it be business as usual.

You get to join in God’s miraculous rebirth of creation. There is nothing usual about your line of work.

(picture by Felix Atsoram) 

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