Are you frustrated in ministry? Do you sometimes think, My ministry is insignificant compared to hers? Yep, me too. Been there, done that. If you’re feeling frustrated that your life and/or ministry isn’t as “big” as “hers,” this post is for you.
Frustrated That Ministry Doesn’t Look Like You Expected
As an audacious college student, I dreamed of becoming the next, world-class Christian women’s speaker. When I ended up landing a job at Revive Our Hearts as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s personal assistant, I was on top of the world. I figured she’d tuck me in her back pocket, take me all over the country with her, and show me the speaking ropes. Soon it would be my turn to hire a personal assistant.
Ha. The following fifteen years in ministry were one giant lesson in humility. (And the lesson only continues in my current season as a wife and mom.) God has used—and is using—this time to teach me to serve rather than shine. Can you relate?
Frustrated Her Ministry Reach Is So Much Greater Than Yours
Or maybe you haven’t desired the spotlight like me; your motivations might be much more holy than mine ever were. Which makes it all the more difficult . . . You love God, you love His people, and yet you feel you’re hardly making a dent in advancing His kingdom in this world.
Others, though, who aren’t nearly as grounded in God’s Word, seem to attract hordes of social media followers. Why even bother trying to influence people for Christ when what you do seems so piddly and insignificant compared with the number of people she reaches?
Second Corinthians 10 speaks some much-needed truth into our frustrated hearts. You know, the chapter that speaks about those who compare themselves with others not having understanding (v. 12)? Yeah, that one. Let’s drop in at the next verse. The apostle Paul is saying:
But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us.
A Truth That Has the Power to Change Your Frustration in Ministry
What a needed reminder for us when we are feeling overlooked, even . . . invisible. Ultimately, God decrees all—including our ministry reach. Just as God assigns limits to the ocean waves (Job 38:8-11), He does the same for you and me.
Our assignments came directly from Him. Our area of influence—whether we deem it small, medium, or large—has been assigned by God. What if you and I really believed that?
I mean, think about it. What if the CEO of a major corporation asked you to bring her a glass of water. Wouldn’t it feel like a significant task because of who had assigned it to you? So how can your role—and reach—be insignificant if GOD assigned it?
Almost as equally profound as who gives us our assignments is what assignment God entrusts us with. So much more than asking for a glass of water, God asks us to reach the globe with the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:14). This is how God advances His kingdom: through His people faithfully sharing the good news with the man, woman, or child right in front of them.
So the next time you’re tempted to think in frustration, My ministry is insignificant compared to hers, think again. There is nothing insignificant about sharing the gospel in the area of influence God has assigned to you.
Besides, since when do numbers indicate eternal fruit? 2 Cor. 10:18 reminds us that only God—not scores of social media followers—can define true success:
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
Following Jesus has never been about stardom. May you and I faithfully serve those the King brings across our path rather than despising and missing the “little” opportunities ’cause we’re so busy daydreaming of a bigger and better platform.
The Unexpected Blessing of Being Frustrated in Ministry
I would even go so far as to say that the fact that we don’t have a larger “platform” is a gracious gift. What if Christian stardom would cause us to deceive ourselves? To grow lax in ruthlessly killing the vestiges of sin in our dark hearts?
I appreciate author Andy Crouch’s transparency here:
If you knew the full condition of my heart, my fantasies and grievances, my anxieties and my darkest solitary thoughts, you would declare me a danger to myself and others. I cannot be entrusted with power by myself, certainly not with celebrity, and neither can you. . . . Those of us who find ourselves with a measure of public fame must make radical commitments to limit our power.
So thank God for not giving you a larger platform. And get to work cooperating with the Spirit in being conformed more and more to the image of the beautiful Christ.
Along these lines, I find Joni Eareckson Tada’s testimony so powerful. When asked what she would say to her thirty-year-old self, she responded:
Looking back, I was far too actively engaged in the ministry God had called me to, and nowhere near as engaged in who God called me to be. So, I would say to 30-year-old Joni, “God is far more interested in reaching people with disabilities than you’ll ever be, and he can manage quite well with or without Joni and Friends. So slow down and love Jesus more. And prove that love by pursuing holiness.”
Repenting of Our Frustration in Ministry
When you and I envy other women’s gifts and opportunities for the kingdom, we are thinking far too narrowly and selfishly. During these sinful moments, it’s crucial to recall and thank God that another woman’s “success” in ministry is good for us, because it brings health to the one Body we all share (1 Cor. 12:25–26).
So let’s get to work, sister. Small as we might deem our personal influence, there is nothing tiny or insignificant about the supernatural work our God has called us to. May He be known, treasured, and celebrated in and through our little lives!
- I would love to hear from you. Whether you’re in ministry or not, does your influence feel too small? What currently frustrates you about your life? And how do the truths in 2 Corinthians 10 encourage your heart today?
- Full disclosure: I will make a few pennies if you purchase an Amazon product I linked to in this post.
Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller is a compassionate Christian communicator.