4 Ways To Fight Against The Temptation To Quit Serving The Church
by Garet Halbert
“Serving in the local church is the easiest thing to do,” said no one ever. Being a servant to the needs of the church is a delightful calling, but it can be a daunting one as well. When I talk with those who serve in the local church, I always seem to see a speck of burnout in their eyes. As I have contemplated the tragedy of burnout and the statistics of those who leave pastoral ministry prematurely, or stop serving as an usher or sound guy, or those who find their way out of nursery duty, I notice that they manifest some tell-tale signs prior to throwing in the towel. A lack in these four areas is a recipe for disaster. My prayer is that as you read this, you would be stirred up to press on in the calling God has upon your life. Rarely will anyone regret persevering; it’s quitting prematurely that haunts us. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
1) Be convinced of your calling to serve, then refuse to be convinced otherwise.
Often when the stress of serving comes, we begin to doubt if we were supposed to do this in the first place. It is so beneficial to seek God in prayer and be convinced that He wants us to join the nursery team, or serve as a children’s Sunday School teacher, or be a part of one of our outreach ministries before committing ourselves. Brothers and Sister, do not let the stress, the lack of recognition, or whatever else that might cause you to shy away from service or think about quitting, cloud out God’s calling for you to serve Him by serving His people. The world, the flesh, and the Devil delight in convincing people to quit things that they were once convinced of. Refuse to quit what you are convinced by God to do.
2) Remember your identity. You are a child of God before you are servant of God’s people.
Often when one serves in the church, they will struggle with their identity. What I mean by this is that in playing a significant role in a church ministry, one can mistakenly find their identity in that role rather than in Christ. I remember several years ago meeting a woman who served several roles in her church. Moreover, it was often said of her, that if she were to leave or pass away, there was nobody that could do all that she does. And while this is an example of an incredible servant’s heart, there was still a problem. She hardly talked about God and was not very Christ-like Monday-Saturday. She was the life of the party at church gatherings, but was not much for godliness outside of church. What might this indicate to us? She had an identity bound up in her roles in the church, rather than in Christ. We are to find our identity in the One who gave His life for us, that we might be forgiven of our many sins. And from the overflow of that identity of being a child of God, THEN we begin to extend ourselves out in service to our church. Even Jesus models for us the importance of seeing one’s self as a child of God before a specific role. He spent more time in His earthly ministry talking about being the Son of God than His role as Savior! I think we would benefit greatly from an identity check.
3) Always be a person of prayer IN your service to the church.
It is easy to get caught up in serving the church and forget to pray both for the ministry in which you serve and for the church body at large. But we must remember that prayer is one of the most important services to the church! When the Apostle Paul was guiding Timothy on how to lead the church at Ephesus, he wrote to Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). For Paul, a great church is a praying church. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the activities that grow and aid the church, but forget Who truly builds the church (Matthew 16:18). And before we look at our last point, I want to add that prayer is the ultimate acknowledgment that we can do nothing apart from Christ. John Piper in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, writes, “Prayer is the translation into a thousand different words of a single sentence: ‘Apart from me [Christ] you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).”
4) Don’t just serve.
Serving in a church ministry can be all work and no fellowship. Serve the church with the intention of fellowshipping as well. Most of the churches’ ministries consist of many people, so see your service as a way to fellowship with your team. Get to know one another and exchange prayer requests. Let those conversations become friendships outside of your specific ministry. One of the best ways to get connected with those in your church family is to start by connecting with those in the church ministry you serve with. As we labor together, we grow together.
Serving in a church ministry is exhausting; there is no way around it. We all have jobs, families, and the stress of life. Then on top of that, we have our responsibility to our church. These four practical tips will help us with most of the struggles we have in serving. Service to the church is exhausting, but it can be an exhilarating exhaustion. There is no better place to spend yourself for the Lord than His church. Let your exhaustion be a reminder that prior to Christ you spent yourself on things that had no heavenly reward, but now your exhaustion is not in vain, for one day you will be rewarded for your labor for our Lord. Let us, like the Apostle Paul, have the same desire as we serve the church, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15).
Garet Halbert is a member of FCC.