When You're Tired Of Doing Youth Ministry
"And let us not grow weary of doing good . . ." - Galatians 6:9
It seems like a great contradiction that we can sometimes grow weary of doing the good things God has called us to do. But is it really? Youth ministry is hard work. I have worked hard my whole life. I grew up working on farms, doing landscaping, even building houses. That is work that wears you out physically.
But the work of investing in other people is a special kind of hard work.
There have been many times in youth ministry where I am at the end of a day and I am absolutely spent.
The weariness we feel from doing ministry is different than the tired you feel after doing physical labor. It's a tiredness in your soul. A complete spiritual and emotional exhaustion. And that in itself is a sign that things are going good even when they can feel exhaustive.
Even when the results are good, ministry is draining. The personal toll that investing your life into other's lives takes is not to be easily overlooked. That's what Paul was talking about in this verse. He is talking about the tendency that we all face to literally become worn out from doing the good work God has called us to do.
The literal translation of the phrase grow weary is "to despair," or "lose heart." Or, and here is the most resonant one to me, "to lose enthusiasm." Oh man . . . who hasn't been there, right? No matter how good things are going, it's not impossible to simply lose enthusiasm for the ministry. And yet, we just can't do it. I mean, we can. And we do. But we can't stay there. We have to be able to rise out of it. And that's what Paul alludes to here.
Paul's words contain a warning, but also a promise. This promise should greet our ears as a welcome word of sustaining encouragement from God.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.Paul says that if we can manage to keep our strength up if we can stay motivated if we can somehow not lose our passion for the work God has put in front of us, there is a reward in store for us. Paul doesn't exactly say what this is, and I kind of like it that way. Based on how I interpret Scripture and based on the context of what Paul is saying, I think the reward could be any one of the following:
- That we would see fruit in the lives of those in whom we're investing
- That we would see those in whom we have invested use their lives in powerful ways, enlarging and enriching God's Kingdom
- That God's favor would be on us, whatever that may look like
- That we would be able to see the fruit of our work and have the satisfaction of knowing that we have served faithfully
I don't know about you, but each of these is reward enough for me. If we can just keep these in front of us, maybe they can serve as motivation when times get tough.
But more than just keeping the reward in front of us, there are some practices we can take to stay encouraged in the midst of wearying work. There are certainly more than three, but these are the three that seemed to make the most sense to me.
1. Stay Connected To God
Communion with God is the antidote to spiritual weariness. God is the "lifter of our heads," in the words of David. When we grow tired, it is easy to also lose our passion for meeting with God in prayer and in Bible reading. But this is the very thing we can't afford to lose. When you find yourself growing weary of doing ministry, FIGHT to connect with God.
2. Stay Connected To Your Support Network
When I get weary of doing ministry, I can tend to become withdrawn. Maybe this is true for you too. I tend to turn inward in my thoughts and to internalize stress. What happens is that I can come across as short with my family, robbing them and me of the emotional and spiritual boost that family provides. Similarly, you may disconnect from your team. Fight the urge to do either of these in your weariness. Be as open as is appropriate about your struggles. Ask for prayer and encouragement, and then be open to receiving it.
3. Keep Your Calling In Front Of You
Remind yourself in times of weariness that this is what God has called you to. You are a drink offering, in Paul's words, poured out for the sake of Christ. Being tired is expected, even normative. Being wary of the work isn't. The writer of Hebrews understood the concept of focusing on our call. How else could he have written, "let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:1-2). Focusing on Christ, and on the calling to make His name known, will encourage and motivate you to press forward when you grow weary.
Youth ministry is amazingly rewarding. 15 years in, I keep coming back and have no plans to leave any time soon. But it's also uniquely exhausting. It's OK to admit it. What's not OK is allowing ourselves to grow weary of doing good.
My hope is that Paul's words would speak to you today. If you find yourself in a weary spot, don't sit there. Do something. Do the work it takes to reconnect with God and rediscover your passion for God's calling. The stakes are too high to allow yourself to walk away from the awesome work God has put in front of you.
Last Updated on April 2018