Managing Ministry Mayhem

Managing Ministry Mayhem

ministry mayhem

Ministry is Brutiful 

Leading in ministry can be beautiful.

And it can be brutal.

Or, as Ed Young says, it can be “brutiful”.

There are few things better than serving others and seeing the power of God transform lives. For those called to serve full-time, it really is something that we are compelled to do. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

But it really can be difficult. Really difficult. We can feel like we are being pulled in a thousand different directions. Expectations can be unrealistic – either our own or those of others.

People fail us. We fail people. And ourselves. 

We can battle a lack of resources. A lack of time. A lack of direction. Or a lack of understanding from others. 

Sometimes we feel like we are not our own. People expect to have access to our time, our energy, and even our families. 

And the temptations. It might be pride. Or laziness. Or relational. Or it might be anger, bitterness or resignation. There are many temptations for those who lead in ministry. The enemy would have it no other way. 


The statistics are shocking*… 

  • 90% of pastors work in excess of 60 hours per week
  • 70% of pastors do not have anyone they consider a personal friend
  • 40% of pastors report serious conflict with a parishioner every month
  • 70% of pastors say they will not be in ministry 10 years from now
  • 50% of pastors say they would leave the ministry today because of discouragement, but have no other way of making a living
  • 80% of pastors feel unqualified or discouraged in their role
  • 77% of pastors say they don’t have a good marriage
  • Insurance costs to churches dealing with mental breakdowns with clergy is 4% higher than any secular industry

* based on research by The Fuller Institute and Focus On The Family

If we are not careful, the brutiful ministry quickly becomes mayhem.

Preparing for the mayhem

One of the keys to managing ministry mayhem is to be ready for it in the first place. It is all but inevitable, so prepare now.

1. Know yourself

Ask yourself these three questions (and you might want to write down your thoughts):

  • What are my weaknesses?
    You can be sure the enemy will find them. Know them and be ready to defend them.
  • What are my worry points?
    We all have things that get to us and cause us to stress or be anxious. Know what they are.
  • What are my warning signs?
    Do you start losing sleep when things get rough? Do you get angry? Start eating too much? Get emotional? Stop reading the Word or praying? Identify the warning signs that things may be getting too rough.

2. Commit to life priorities

What are your non-negotiable commitments in life? Spiritual relationships? Family? Calling?

How are you practically committed to these things? Does your calendar reflect your commitment? Are you accountable? What happens when one or more of them starts getting squeezed out?

Make sure your commitments really are commitments and not just lip service.

3. Understand your ministry calling

When we truly have a calling to lead in ministry, we need to ensure that we pursue that calling in a focused manner. With that in mind, I might suggest asking some revealing questions to help define how that calling should be pursued.

You might ask:

  • What are the things that only I can do? These should be your primary investment of time, energy and resources.
  • What are my most important leadership responsibilities? For most all ministry leaders, these include defining/supporting vision, casting vision, and equipping and developing leaders to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12).
  • What, in the end, will I truly be held accountable for in regards to my calling?

4. Create a daily routine which strengthens you from the inside out. This might include the 5 things leaders should do everyday:

  • Relationships
  • Renewal
  • Rest
  • Reading
  • Reflection

Managing Ministry Mayhem

Once prepared for the mayhem by understanding what your all about, it’s important to know how to handle it once it arrives. Because it will arrive, in some form or another.

Here are 4 steps for managing ministry mayhem when it arrives:

Step One: Slow Down

Mayhem tends to speed things up in our world. Whether it’s feeling overwhelmed, being frustrated at others, or being discouraged at the lack of results, our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors seem to speed up.

Consciously take time to think and be rational. Step back. Step away. Slow down.

Step Two: Listen Up

Your world may seem chaotic. But God is still in control. And He still speaks. Are you hearing Him? Are you taking time to listen to Him through the Word? In prayer and meditation? To the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

And how about learning from other leaders?

We may feel like we are fighting the battle alone, but God is with us and there are others around us that we need to take time to hear.

Step Three: Look In

Is there anything I need to deal with internally? Sin? Relationship issues? Poor decision? Lack of understanding?

What can I do to clear out some clutter or grow myself beyond the mayhem?

Step Four: Reach Out

Too often in ministry we isolate ourselves and try to live up to the spiritual expectations of others. We go it alone when that’s one of the surest ways to bring us down.

There is nothing wrong, nothing dishonorable in seeking help. That might be sharing your burdens with other pastors or a circle of friends whom you trust. It might mean seeking counseling to help work through some issues.

Do it sooner than later.

Resources to help

Here are a few resources which might help if you are sensing a season of mayhem in your ministry:

How have you learned to manage the mayhem that comes with ministry? 

(please share in comments below)

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