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7 Steps to Regaining Your Joy in Ministry

It’s easy—and quick—to lose your joy in ministry. One phone call, email, or conversation, and your joy may go out the window. 

But joy in ministry is a serious issue. If my wife or my children were never happy, it would reflect poorly on me. When godly leaders are never happy, it reflects poorly on God. 

Cranky Christians make terrible witnesses. Let your countenance reflect the joy of God within you.

So how can you get your joy in ministry back?

1. Admit you’ve lost it. You can’t recover from what you’ve never lost. This can be tough to admit as a pastor. As a church leader, it’s hard to be honest about your struggles. But you’ll never be able to find your joy unless you admit you don’t have it.

2. Analyze the cause. Look at your life and ministry, and ask yourself: “How did I lose my joy?”

The Bible tells us to do this over and over. “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40 GNT).

There are hundreds of killjoys in life, but these five seem to be the most prevalent:

  • Unbalanced schedule: We’re not getting enough rest.
  • Unused talents: We’re not using all of our gifts. 
  • Unconfessed sin: God has told us to do something (or not to do something) and we’re ignoring him.
  • Unresolved conflict: We’re not getting along with someone.
  • Undernourished soul: We’re feeding others spiritually but failing to feed ourselves.

Start with those five areas but don’t stop there.

3. Correct what’s wrong. Depending upon how you lost your joy (see step 2), make specific changes in your life. Take a day away (or longer) for rest and relaxation. Adjust your ministry responsibilities. Talk to a counselor.

4. Think about what’s good in your life. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. David writes in Psalm 126:3: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (NIV). Study after study has shown that gratitude is the healthiest human emotion.

Turn off your television and make a list of everything you’re grateful for in your life and ministry. Focus on the good things God is doing in your life—not everything else you’re consumed by.

5. Nourish the spirit. You spend a lot of time feeding other people spiritually. Make sure you’re being nourished as well. Make your daily time with God a priority.

Another way to do this is to make joyful singing a regular part of your life. You don’t need to sing well. Simply making a “joyful noise unto the Lord” will put you in a good mood (Psalm 100:1 KJV).

6. Give back. You encourage other people to serve all the time. But when was the last time you gave back to someone else as a supporting character, not the leader?

It’s easy to get self-focused, even in ministry. You serve when it matches your agenda. But joy comes when you focus on others and love and serve them just because Jesus does.

7. Tell someone about Jesus. This may seem basic to some ministry leaders out there. You’re preaching Jesus every week. But nothing will restore your soul faster than becoming concerned about the salvation of a specific friend, neighbor, or family member. It’ll change your entire outlook on ministry. 

During the challenges and pressures of ministry, it’s easy to lose sight of the joy you had when you began your ministry. But you’re not alone. 

Jeremiah was one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. His ministry has touched billions of people for thousands of years. He wrote an entire book of the Bible, where he mourned the destruction of Jerusalem. In Lamentations 5:15, he wrote: “Joy has left our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning” (NLT).

Is that you?

The path to regaining your joy may not be quick. It’ll take honesty, introspection, and a willingness to make hard changes.

But the joy that comes from serving Jesus faithfully is well worth it.

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