Jim rested his head in his hands. He thought, “ Is God really in this ministry now?” He avoided his email inbox like the plague. He thought, “I don’t think I can handle one more rejection. That would be thirty-six!” Jim was attempting to rent local facilities for a small presentation to help Christian men living with the long-term effects of sexual abuse. No traction. Weeks earlier, he reached out and connected with members of a national men’s ministry. However, they informed him that his ministry would be a challenging and difficult arena for faith communities to support. What should he do? Should he quit and go a new direction? Should he continue to persevere in difficult times? Well, there isn’t a formula to follow but there are some steps you can take before you throw in the towel.
Perhaps you are between a rock and a hard place as you lead a men’s ministry that may experience some difficulties and challenges. Here are some words of encouragement and advice to help you as you move forward.
- Don’t take it too personally. Often times as ministry leaders our identities can become enmeshed in our cause and work. We are passionate about helping to develop and build better men through Christ, faith and connection. However, sometimes the boundaries between our work and who we are become blurred. In such cases, we often view apathy, indifference or rejection from others as personal attacks or failure. If you feel this way from time to time don’t beat yourself up. It’s a continual process of adjusting and dealing with personal expectations fueled by your passion. It’s even more difficult if you are the sole financial source for funding the ministry. Be encouraged! You are not alone. You are among an elite group of men, the minor & Major Prophets in the Bible.
- Journal your successes and challenges. Name a task considered worse than having a tooth extracted without Novocain. Journaling. Often times men have equated journaling as women’s work. Yet the God of creation journaled his experience with mankind in 66 books. Journaling simply allows you opportunities to revisit times of success, learned insights and your mindset during challenging times. I often revisit my journal to remind me of the numerous men that God has transformed through the ministry he has entrusted in my care. Reality check: you still experience the down times, but recover more quickly when reminded of the good accomplished.
- Stay connected. You often hear that ministry leaders should be connected with other colleague and peers. That’s good. Even more important is to have several treasured connections with those God ministered to through you. As ministry leaders we can inadvertently and unconsciously fall into the mindset of “helper cannot build relationships with those he helps” which is similar the secular perspective of counseling. We always understand the importance of boundaries and healthy relationships. However, our work has a slightly different twist, we are often working with and helping family, other members of the body. The relationship is different and not similar in a secular professional way. Creating healthy and safe relationships with several of those you have helped provides motivation for continuing to serve during challenging times.
- Try ministering outside your local area. Do you remember Jesus coming to his own town and the people not wanting him there? “A prophet is not honored in his own town”. Think of the miracles and ministry he could have offered. Often times we hope and expect our local and fellow faith communities to support and encourage, unfortunately it does not always happen. I remember expecting my colleagues in Seattle to be an unlimited source of support for the Healing Broken Men ministry, but that was not the case. It was faith communities from states across the nation and other countries who were seeking the information, resources and help. Try not to limit your view to only reaching your local area first. God might have other cities, peoples and areas to help first, then maybe your own town.