When Ministry Becomes a Burden

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People

“This is where it inevitably leads. You’ve lost sight of the gospel in your personal life; you feel a growing disconnect between your private life and your public ministry persona; your ministry is no longer fueled by your own worship; you feel misunderstood by those around you; you feel warningly criticized by those in your home; you think that you and your leadership are not treated with the esteem that they deserve; and you are increasingly spiritually empty because you are looking for spiritual life where it cannot be found. The impact of all of these things together is that you find your ministry less and less a privilege and a joy and more and more a burden and a duty.” Paul David Tripp in Dangerous Calling, page 37, italics mine


I have several fond, funny memories as a child, several of which include my Dad and I going fishing. On one of our fishing adventures, (I was probably seven or eight at the time), we headed to Clear Creek Landing, located several miles outside of town on curvy, narrow road. Heading out in Dad’s 1974 Chevrolet, I noticed that the gas tank leaned towards the “E.” “Dad,” I asked, “Are we going to run out of gas?” My Dad explained that we were not going to run out of gas because of a side gas tank that would act as “back up.” What he didn’t know, though, is that we did not have any gas in the side tank. Sure enough, in a matter of miles, we were stranded on the side of the road, completely out of gas. We walked for about three or four miles until someone finally stopped to pick us up and take us to a gas station. Though my Dad and I often look back on that memory and laugh (I usually bring it up, “Remember the time we ran out of gas?”), there is an important principle I learned early: If a vehicle does not have gas, it cannot run.


To place a spiritual application on this point, consider the “fuel” of ministry. In Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp notes the importance of the fuel of worship. Ministry is something that is a good thing, but when it is not done within the context of the Lord’s strength we will run out of fuel, spiritually-speaking. As a counselor, if I pour and pour into my counselees without daily coming to the Father for his character and nature, a grave danger exists. I will begin to do things in my own strength, and ministry will become a duty and a burden. Left unchecked, if I continue to do things in my own strength, I will become stressed and potentially even burn out. In other words, I will run out of gas. It is inevitable.  Just like a car needs regular maintenance and check-up, so do our spiritual lives. What about you? How is your “spiritual gas tank?” If it is leaning towards empty, let me encourage you to spend some time with the Savior. The fuel of personal worship is essential.

535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral MinistryDangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles