Romanticizing Ministry

Oftentimes I believe that there is a sugar-coated understanding of the reality of Christian ministry. You know the connotations of being a full time minister, an overseas missionary, a missional community leader and other baller Christian titles. Serving the lost and ministering to the poor are idealized goals swimming in sugary spiritual goodness.

“Wow” is the most common response to ministry callings and updates.

Ministry is extremely beautiful, yet I think often times the beauty is over-romanticized since the daily life is laced with sweet icing. We forget that there are serious questions to be wrestled with – ethical, theological, and effectiveness issues. We forget that ministry is relationships with people and that relationships can be confusing.

When that “Loving Feeling” is Gone

Two years ago I dropped out of school to go on mission in Uganda. While there I started to realize the romanticism I had for helping the poor was naive to reality. Serving looses the altruistic appeal when you’re holding a malnourished kid, hearing about your friends’ domestic abuse, and learning the personal stories of war.

The passionate, romantic loving feeling is replaced by heart ache – the gift of lamentations. We cry God’s tears and we partake of His suffering for the want of His revealed love.

This is when missions takes self-sacrifice, especially sacrifice of the self. Social awkwardness and physical discomfort might become normal elements of ministry. Being with the poor in spirit, the hungry, thirsty, captive, and disadvantaged might give you a severe holy discontent.

I believe this is the sort of love Calvary calls us to. Loving God and loving the people He loves even though it hurts. The giddiness of a new baptism comes and goes – as all passionate emotions do – but instead of giddiness, God has breathed life into a steadfast commitment.

Commitment Lasts

I experienced this sort of commitment without romantic notions when I was in India this summer and it has continued now that I’m a student at UT again. It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable I am, even if my body and emotions are outright resistant to sharing the Gospel, my soul is committed to following Christ. He is worthy of glory and my soul longs to see Him lifted up on campus, in the USA, and in the world.

Sometimes this new longing looks kinda like the tortoise racing against the hare. I don’t have the bounce in my step and the “fire” in my voice like I used to. For a while I was concerned that I was sinning by not feeling passionate. But God revealed to me that He’s pleased with my continued commitment. I still move toward Him and seek His glory.

It’s love of Christ that compels us. We are compelled by the steadfastness of His love to continue stepping forward on the road to Calvary whether or not we feel like it. Christ is our First and True Love; loving Him with eternal commitment compels ministry with a stronger foundation than romantic notions of saving the lost and reaching the poor.