What Do Ministers Do?


I know enough about cars to get me in trouble. Gone are the days of my 1964 Falcon Futura. I did all the repairs myself, changed the plugs, replaced the rotor and wires, worked on the brakes, and rebuilt the starter a couple of times. I also carried a wrench with me, so when the car wouldn’t start, I’d get out my trusty tool and hit the solenoid a few times. Then off I’d go. 

Now when I buy a car, I never look under the hood. It would do no good. I’d have little idea of what was what. I don’t know how my car works. Oh, I know the concept but could not go into in-depth detail about it. As long as it’s running and getting the job done, which I expect of it, then I’m happy. All I care about is when I get in it and go to the office, it gets me there. Never once do I think about what’s happening under the hood. I encourage it to do its job by giving it quality fuel, changing the oil, and getting it checked if it sputters, but I’m happy as long as it does its job.

Unfortunately, I’ve been asked several times about different ministers over the years, “Exactly what does he or she do?”  This usually comes from people who either don’t understand ministry or haven’t taken the time to understand it. What most people do is base what a minister does on how many hours he or she is in the office. But you know it’s hard to minister just sitting in an office. You can use office time to plan, study, write, etc. but ministry demands more than that. What they don’t realize is that you can’t measure what a minister is doing by how many hours he sits behind a desk.

Additionally, some positions require more onsite work than others. When I was in administration and working with the office staff, I had to be in the office more consistently than others due to the nature of the position. I began my ministry preaching in a small congregation in Voca, Texas, on Sundays in 1970 while working on my master’s degree. Over the years, I’ve covered many roles as a minister and have compiled a list of some of the things that ministers do.

So, “What Do Ministers Do?
They teach.
They preach.
They study hours for the above.
They lead small groups.
They counsel.
They mentor.
They plan worship.
They work with ministries.
They work with deacons.
They support the elders.
They officiate and go to funerals.
They officiate and go to weddings.
They work on hiring teams.
They work with families.
They go on retreats with members.
They go on mission trips.
They help plan the direction of the congregation.
They have an open door with anyone with a problem.
They help others try and solve problems.
They help others through trials.
They help others through illness.
They spend hours on how to bring the church closer to God.
They go to hospitals.
They are available 24/7.
They teach one on one about the Lord.
They work behind the scenes for services.
They work on communication.
They work with nonprofits.

When not in their office, they are often at a lunch or breakfast meeting. Why? Because that’s when most of those who have an 8-5 job can get away to meet. 
When at home, they are answering emails from elders and members on various issues and needs. 
When they are at home, they answer calls from members and often leave their families to take care of a situation. 
When they are on vacation, they often study and will more likely than not keep communication flowing through online communication.
They write to encourage those within and outside the church atmosphere.
They’re at the building getting their hands dirty with needed tasks. 
They monitor the different works.
They handle problems that come up suddenly.
They look for ways to get people involved in the lives of the people.
They listen to complaints.
They meet with the elders.
They work with special church groups.
They work with our missionaries and outreaches.
They work with various church programs.

I could go on, but the main thing is that they give their lives to serving the Lord.

It’s not a physically intense job. It doesn’t take a lot of muscle strength. 

What it does take is a lot of mental and emotional strength as you work with the lives of people. As you work with people, their struggles stay with you at all hours.

Ministers get burned out much of the time because they are under constant scrutiny. They have as many bosses as there are members. They are evaluated by every one of them regularly. They are expected to be seen at church events, even looked for by others.

Ministers are not perfect, but they have chosen to serve the Lord full time. They make mistakes, but it’s usually due to over-enthusiasm and a desire to move a congregation forward.  Sometimes they do things they shouldn’t; after all, they’re human. But didn’t the Apostles slip up every once in a while? And remember, they can’t do it all.

Ministers need support from those around them. Too many leave full-time ministry due to the stress and daily struggles of balancing their own lives and all those they serve. Take time to build on the good things. Praise the things they do well. Encourage to continue to serve the best they can. Instead of complaining of the weaknesses, help them through them. Be there to support and help them, refraining from pointing out every little thing you don’t like.

Sure, occasionally, you may need to grab the wrench out and bump the solenoid. But most of the time, things are running so smoothly you forget they are there.  I guarantee as long as you take care of them, they’ll give you miles of service. 

Take time today to tell those who serve and minister to you how much you appreciate what they do for you and your congregation. A little encouragement helps them make the long journey they have chosen more enjoyable.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  
Isaiah 40:29-31

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.

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