A Few Reasons Why Ministry is the Best Job in the World


By Kent King-Nobles
If you ever read Thomas Rainer’s blog, maybe you saw his list of “Ten Joy Stealers in Ministry.”  I will just list them here:

  1. Seeing the underbelly of Christian ministry.
  2. Constant criticisms (“death by a thousand cuts”).
  3. Fighting among Christians.
  4. Busyness that turns to prayerlessness.
  5. Unreasonable work hours.
  6. Attacks on our family.
  7. Sour staff relations.
  8. Inwardly focused church.
  9. Lack of respect in the community and culture.
  10. Entitlement mentality among some church members.
In my experience in ministry, these are all real concerns that can drag us down.  I imagine that you could add other common complaints to this list.  One of the things we ministers do when we get together is support each other by sharing our complaints.   
Without wanting to in any way dismiss the difficulties, it does help me to think of the other side.  Even with all the challenges, I feel like ministry is the greatest job in the world.  I really do.  As I talk with my friends and parishioners about the struggles they face at work, I haven’t found one yet that I would really trade places with.  Sure, there are parts of their jobs that I envy at times.   I dream of what it must be like, for example, to go home at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, all finished and not have anything you need to think about or do for work until you go back there on Monday.  When I dig deeper, however, I see that these “dream jobs” have their own difficulties and challenges.  I also realize that there are many positives to the kind of work I get to do.
I know you will have a different list, and not agree with everything on mine, but here are just a few of the reasons that I think ministry is the greatest job in the world.  Instead of focusing on my list, however, I invite you to use it as an opportunity to focus on the positive opportunities in your own ministry.
  1. I get to represent Jesus Christ. This is much better than representing any other “CEO” or company.
  2. My work matters. I am not trying to get people to buy things they don’t need.  I don’t spend my days worrying that the work I am doing might make the world into a worse place.  I am confident that at its best, the work I do can and does change people’s lives for the better.  On hard days, I can bring out one or two of the thank you letters I have received and be amazed that I get paid to do something so rewarding.
  3. I get to work with some amazing people. Sure, the church attracts some less than healthy people.  But the church is also made up of some of the most amazing individuals I have ever met.  They are caring, supportive and full of faith.  There are people who are easy to admire and learn from.  During difficult days, it helps me to remember these people and to make sure I get to spend some time with some of them.
  4. I create my own, flexible schedule. Unlike many of my friends, I have usually been able to be there for important events during my kids’ days.  I am really the one deciding how to use my time.
  5. I get to set my own vision for my work. Sure, I have to lead and work with others.  But I find these others are very open to letting me cast a vision, especially for how I carry out my work.
  6. I get paid to go on missions trips.
  7. My work gives me lots of opportunities to attend to my faith life. Sure, it is a challenge to worship when I am leading.  But my work does not take me away or conflict with my faith.  My work gives me opportunities to grow in faith.
  8. My kids are surrounded by a community of caring adults.
  9. I work in an environment where Grace and Love are normative. Even though it is not practiced perfectly, at least the expectation is good behavior.  My friends in other jobs tell me these are not always the rules that people play by in their organizations.
  10. I am allowed in to share some of the most meaningful parts of others’ lives. For example, I love hearing stories about persons who have died and learning the lessons from their lives.  Every wedding I officiate reminds me to tend to my own marriage.  People let me share their baptisms and illnesses and celebrations. I really do think ministry is a great job.  Like any human endeavor, it can weigh us down.  We can be seriously disappointed and hurt.  My hope for you today, is that you can experience the joys of ministry, and live more out of that side.
(The Rev. Kent King-Nobles is pastor of Decatur First UMC and chairs the Pastoral Care and Counseling Committee)