The Joy of Ministry

If you work in ministry, you know there is a joy that comes from it. You don’t get into ministry because it is a lucrative career choice, but because it is something you are called into. But for many who are not working in a full-time ministry, you can experience the same joy.

Recently, there has been a push to “do what you love” as your career. We quote Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” or Warren Buffett, “Take a job that you love.” But research shows that many people are disengaged, dissatisfied, and frustrated at work. A recent Gallup report stated that “Quiet Quitters” make up half of the U.S. workforce. (Quiet Quitting is a term used for people who are not outright quitting their jobs but are quitting the idea of going above and beyond, doing the bare minimum to get by at work.) This idea has picked up significant momentum on social media coming out of the pandemic. How can you have joy if you work at the lowest level of your potential?

As humans, God has created us to thrive in working to please others. When we were kids, we would do things, and our parents or authority figures would tell us, “good job” or “nice work.” As kids, there was a joy that came from those words that were not taught to us; it was built inside. We, by nature, want to please others; this nature ultimately comes from us wanting to please God. To praise Him and receive His love and salvation.

Secular science backs this up; research shows that great work/joy is produced when we are focused on doing something others love, not necessarily on what we love or are passionate about. Research done by Forbes Insights and O.C. Tanner Institute found that when work was focused on doing something someone else would love, the worker found more joy in their work. That “someone” could be a customer, teammate/colleague, leader or boss, the community they worked for, or anyone that benefited from their work.

In ministry, our “boss” is God. We seek to serve Him, and as a result, we serve others around us as “the hands and feet of Jesus.” The same is true, though, if we are not in full-time ministry. God’s word instructs in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We are working to please God with our work, no matter what that work is.

Suppose your job is working the fryers at McDonald’s. In that case, you don’t have to love that job, McDonald’s, or even french fries, but using the knowledge that many people love McDonald’s french fries and by you doing well at your job will be something that will bring joy to them, brings joy and satisfaction to you.

Experiencing joy and satisfaction in our daily lives is something God wants for each of us as part of His blessing to us. When we align with how He has created us, we find more fulfillment in our lives and lead happier lives. Turning the focus of our work to someone other than us gives us purpose and meaning for jobs we may not be passionate about or love but allows us to see the ones that benefit from those jobs. And to have the joy of living up to our full potential as part of our praise to God.