I was spellbound as I watched the teenagers speak about their experiences on a missions trip to Mexico. At that moment, I knew exactly what I wanted to do someday: work at an orphanage in Mexico. I was 14 when I made that decision and envisioned how glamorous it would be to devote my life to such a worthy ministry.
Ten years later, those dreams were placed on the back burner, because God called me to become an English teacher, at first. While doing that, I received the call to work at a pregnancy center (a faith-based ministry providing physical, spiritual and emotional assistance during a woman’s pregnancy) where I’ve been working for four years. I saw the opportunity to work at the pregnancy center as a temporary side job, but I also had felt this was God’s leading as I was offered the job unexpectedly. Little did I know though that God was placing a call I had never felt before upon my life: ministering to women in need and sharing the love of Christ with them.
Somehow though, I’d always imagined that ministry-related work would be fulfilling, that my life would be complete in Christ as I ministered to the needy, just like I had thought it would be at 14. But that wasn’t the case. I began to become discontent and discouraged, weary with issues at work and with ministering. It went from good, to bad, to worse. All I could think of was, Why is something that’s supposed to be so rewarding so hard? I loved the clients, but I didn’t get to interact with them as much once I was on staff, and I had many issues to sort through at work. People would tell me that my job was amazing because I had the ability to minister to others or that it was an incredible opportunity for me. I would get patted on the back, but I didn’t feel amazing or that I was making a difference. There was nothing amazing about doing mundane tasks or about sharing the Gospel with someone who didn’t want to hear it or working with clients who chose abortion over life. The fulfilling feeling I thought I’d have wasn’t there at all.
One day a client came in and asked to see me. She unwrapped a bundle laying on her chest — her newborn baby. As she placed him in my arms, she said something like, “You were right. Your prayer brought him here. Thank you for that prayer you prayed when I miscarried last year.”
It was then that I realized what ministry is all about. It’s not going to make you feel rewarded immediately. It takes time, and sometimes we will never see the results of our hard work. But that’s not why we do it. We work for God. It’s not a feeling, about us, or for the recognition. It’s about God. I was wrong to think that helping others would benefit me and make me feel good. That’s not what it’s about. I’d gotten stuck in the unimportant details of my work and forgotten all about the clients in the process.
Ministry work is still rough. It’s not easy. But you know what? If the life of one person is saved or one baby is saved, then all of it is worth it. The end result is what keeps me going. The Bible speaks of this in 2 Timothy 2:3-4:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
I urge those struggling within the ministry, those who might have gone in with certain expectations and now are discouraged, to remember what Timothy said: Don’t get caught up in the unimportant details of what’s going on. Keep on in your service to the Lord, keeping Him the focus so you won’t waver from doing what’s right. Ministry workers are always needed, and who will do the work if you decide to leave when it gets rough?
For those seeking humanitarian work to fulfill them or looking for some excitement, you’ll be disillusioned going into ministry with that mindset. Go because God has called you. Don’t go because you want an adventure, because when the times get tough or mundane, you’ll want to leave because that’s not what you signed up for.
No, I’m not trying to make ministry work seem scary or horrific. There are many wonderful aspects of ministry work, but it isn’t always glamorous. Some days are just plain boring, but I’m realizing that no matter what the day may be filled with, good or bad, the eternal result is worth it.
Ashlea Massie works at a crisis pregnancy center in Texas and enjoys freelance writing.
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January is Sanctity of Human Life month! Add your voice to the conversation by taking a selfie while holding an #iSEETWO sign and post it as your profile pic in January. Find out more: bit.ly/iSEETWO