By Youth Specialties on July 22 2014
Hi, my name is Charles Rikard and I’m selfish.
For years, I tried making ministry about myself and my personal achievements. My life’s value was dependent on how many students or adults showed up and how spiritually connected I could get them. In turn, I neglected important relationships and overlooked important spiritual leaders.
And honestly, there have been moments over the past 10 years where a Wednesday night or Sunday morning has left me dismayed because it did not achieve for me the satisfaction of looking in the mirror and saying, “You’re doing a great job!! God is truly working.”
But over the past year, I’ve discovered that the success of the ministries I oversee has less to do with me, and more to do with what I’m asking God to do in my church and community. In order to do this, I have to be centered in a deep relationship with Christ, placing my prayers at the throne of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It’s hard to confess these things… but why? All of us at some point struggle with our own identity in ministry because of the different circumstances we encounter. Throughout seminary and beyond, I discovered that most pastors go through a season where they struggle with their role in ministry. When we encounter these struggles, we begin to change things about who we are in order to adapt to what we think might work.
And on top of that, we attend conferences where we second-guess our efforts because of the success of others we know in ministry. We try to emulate these leaders, implementing their small group ideas, youth Wednesday nights, college bible studies, and church fellowships. But for some reason, our dynamics are much different.
We know there are many factors that contribute to the success of certain ministry programs and we know that the flourishing of a program has less to do with programming and more to do with environment or cultural climate, but the personal heart struggles are still the same.
Over the past few years, there are some verses that I’ve clung on to that help keep me grounded when I try to take the ministry of my church in a selfish direction. For the rest of this “confession,” I’ll focus on one section: Acts 1:12-14.
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” – Acts 1:12-14
There are many life lessons I have gathered from these verses; let me share a few thoughts that God’s word has shown me about myself that I need to address and affirm on a daily basis.
I hope that this helps you as you begin to see that you are not the only one who deals with heartache in ministry. Rather than sitting in silence, let’s be bold enough to open up the conversation of ministry ups and downs, without fear of condemnation from our peers and colleagues. If we find ways to work and pray together, than we get the privilege to reap the rewards and celebrate together. In honor of my former college professor Dr. Robert Foster, “Peace be with you.”
Charles Rikard is the Student and College Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, TX. He's married to his awesome wife Malena and is expecting his first child. He is a coffee snob and a guitar snob. For more information about Charles you can visit charlesrikard.com.