I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from David Murray’s latest book, Reset. It’s a phenomenal book on preventing burnout. Though not specifically about burnout, I want to share a paragraph I read that was incredibly helpful.
In the seventh chapter Murray encourages his readers to assess their calendars. He suggests making statements of purpose over four life areas: spiritual life, family life, vocational life, and Christian service. As he began the section on Christian service, Murray said this:
Remember, you are already serving God in your spiritual life, in your family life, and in your vocational life. That’s a lot. If your season of life permits, however, you may also want to add a Christian service purpose statement… (Murray, 130)
I absolutely love how Murray frames this, because we vocational ministers can sometimes count ministry wrongly. We say with our lips that your job matters, but do we really count it? We say that ministry in the home is vital, but when we are trying to track the spiritual development of our people do we have a way to assess how well families are being raised up?
Quite a few books that I’ve read do not really seem to “count” those first three segments as ministry. Some models track Christian maturity based upon the ministry that a person is involved in. If a person is serving in a ministry in the local church, then they have moved from the crowd to the committed.
One particular model uses a baseball diamond to track spiritual growth. You get to third base when you are actively involved in a local church ministry. But there isn’t much of a way to give credit to a guy who is sharing Jesus with his coworkers and discipling his family.
We should be careful to communicate similar to how David Murray has communicated this truth. Pastors can tend to focus on the ministry that they see happening in their local church but ignore the way God is using their flock to shape the community through their jobs and their parenting. If we don’t communicate effectively we’ll inadvertently minimize the real ministry that is taking place, and make people feel like they aren’t doing ministry just because we cannot track it on our local church calendar.
If we really believe that ministry on the job matters and that family discipleship matters we’ll track spiritual growth accordingly.