One of my pastors once told me, “Sadly, ministry can be a great place to hide out and a great place to burn out.” He made the statement based on years of observing other ministry leaders. He is right. Ministry can be a haven for the lazy and the workaholic.
We sin differently, but all of us sin. Some are more prone to drift to laziness, to a life without intentionality, to wasting time instead of investing it. Some are more prone toward being a workaholic, to finding identity in a job or activity, to measuring one’s worth by the results. Ministry can be a haven for both expressions of sin.
1. The lazy can hide.
Unfortunately, in many ministry settings, the lazy can hide. Sometimes a lack of intentionality can be spiritualized as organic. Sometimes a lack of passion can be wrongly called patience. A lack of focus can be covered up by a busy church calendar.
2. The workaholics can thrive.
In most roles, overwork feels sinful and neglectful. In ministry, overwork can wrongly feel holy. After all, you are “doing all these things for the Lord and for people.” Some leaders struggle to say no because doing so would feel like denying ministry to people. Leaders can justify all the hours in their minds, the neglect of their own souls, and the neglect of their families. Ministry can attract workaholics and give them a reason to justify their addiction.
But there is a better way.
Ministry must not be the minister’s haven. Christ must be. When those prone to laziness find their identity in Him, He will remind them that they are servants with a holy task. When those prone to being a workaholic find their worth in Him, He reminds them that the results are His doing, not ours. After all “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).