Is Your Ministry Managing You?
by Susanne Scheppmann
“I can do this on my own!” So began my ministry as the Women’s Ministry Director three years ago. I believed if I diligently nurtured my walk with Christ, ministry would just fall into its proper place. I was mistaken. Ministry became misery.
I struggled to find time to spend with God. Now that I “worked for” Him; the longed-for prayer time eluded me. My personal devotions became drudgery; just more work, it seemed. The tasks of ministry and the needs of people exhausted me. I swung back and forth between the desire to resign or to remain obedient to what the Lord had called me to do in women’s ministry.
For months the indecision tormented me. It was my personal Garden of Gethsemane. Would I quit? Or would I obey? Just when I felt I couldn’t continue, some of our staff attended a prayer conference. They came back fired up with new ideas. What did they want to implement first? A “prayer shield” for the pastoral staff. “Oh great,” I muttered, “Just another thing to do.”
As they explained the prayer shield to me, I relaxed a little. It didn’t sound like more work for me. Instead, it was designed to support and protect our pastoral staff. To begin a prayer shield each pastor needed seven people committed to pray one day a week for his or her needs. Weekly, the shield pray-ers called for the prayer requests, dispatching them to the rest of the shield for the upcoming week.
All I needed to do was to decide who I would like to pray for me, and then give the point person my weekly requests. After six months, a new prayer shield would be formed so the shield would remain fresh and active. Even the Apostle Paul asked for prayer: “Brothers, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25). Okay, okay. The prayer shield appealed to me, plus it sounded doable.
Shortly after forming my prayer shield, my heart was lighter. My private devotional time revived with a fresh breath of Spirit. Ministry moved from misery to being manageable. “Could it be the prayer shield?” I wondered.
Now, after more than a year of prayer shield protection, I no longer wonder. I know that it provides the necessary support and balance I require in ministry. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Can ministry still wear me out? Are there more tasks than time? Yes, but with my prayer shield standing in the gap for me every day each week, I can manage the ministry instead of the ministry managing me.