How To Improve Your Job Satisfaction In Ministry
We’ve all heard the banal platitudes that plague Christian lingo. These well-intended phrases often lose their meaning sometime between the 20th and 60th time we hear them. While these phrases often have good applicable meanings, cliché has robbed their meaning and left us with eye rolls. Here are some of my personal favorites:
When God closes a door, He cracks a window.
God willing and the creek don’t rise.
Let go and let God.
He’ll never give you more than you need.
God answers kneemail, not email.
I will do my best to avoid these phrases and still encourage you. The following words are for those of you that find yourself in a difficult situation at your church. Whether the challenge is a difficult boss, a controlling volunteer, a disengaged student ministry, or any other issue, I hope these words can help you make lemonade out of lemons. Ok, that’s the last cheesy phrase, I promise.
1. Seek perspective.
Perspective has a tremendous impact on how you interact with your challenges. I’m not encouraging you to become delusional and convince yourself that your challenges don’t exist. I am encouraging you to consider your challenges in a different light than inconvenience and frustration. We are not in control of much (and life is much better that way), but we are in control of our choices.
Choose to find joy and appreciation in your situations. This might cause you to consider the possibility that you may be the problem. You may have slipped into a selfish perspective that is robbing you of joy or appreciation because you are consumed by the disparities of expectations and your perceived reality.
The first step in altering perspective for the sake of improving a difficult situation is to remember that it is not all about you. This challenge is not a conspiracy against you; it can actually be a gift. Whether the gift is just intended to teach you perseverance, or if it is intended to prompt you to find a deeper sense of identity, good can come from being pushed out of your comfort zone.
If you victimize yourself or throw pity parties, you will find yourself at a party of one. Discontentment thrives when you are not giving your best effort. Don’t check out; dig in! Dig into the challenge and receive the gifts that come with the effort.
What do you have the ability to change in this difficult situation? Have you made goals or progress in those areas? It is easy to point blame when times are hard, but assuming responsibility will allow you to serve others instead of hoping they will serve you better.
2. Take your focus off of performance.
In high-pressure situations, it is common to place all of the pressure on yourself or your performance. Again, analyze what is in your control, and beware of taking too much or too little responsibility. Focusing on your performance will often lead you toward fearful thoughts and a high attention to every failure. Fearful thoughts are going to be selfish thoughts. We focus on protecting ourselves when we perceive an outside threat. An inward and fearful focus will keep you from seeing the needs of others and serving them well.
Those of us in ministry settings don’t have to look hard for service opportunities, yet they are still easy to lose sight of when we are focused on our own performance or agenda. A perspective of service empowers and perpetuates service.
Let me be clear that I am not saying service and productivity run against each other. An attitude of service does not excuse poor performance. I am speaking to performance or service as the attitudes with which you approach your work.
When faced with difficult situations, I encourage you to identify the role you are playing in your difficulties, the role you can play in changing those difficulties, and the perspectives you can adopt to temper those difficulties. After spending a significant chunk of time exercising these efforts, you may recognize that your situation does need to change, just don’t let withdrawal be your first step.
What are some encouragements that have given you perspective in your position?