I’ve been involved in part-time or full-time ministry for 10 years this summer.
I love it. There is nothing more rewarding or satisfying. And selfishly, there is nothing like preparing to teach God’s Word to boost your own spiritual growth.
But ministry often can be tough, frustrating, and thankless because it involves working with people and people are fallen creatures, even the redeemed ones.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 provides helpful insight for those times when ministry is thankless. The Apostle Paul urges the people to make life easier on their leaders by conducting themselves in a godly way (vs.12-15). But if we flip those commands around, we will realize that ministry could be just as thankless 2000 years ago as it can be today. People can be disrespectful, divisive, lazy, weak, hard to be patient with, and out for revenge.
But we in ministry can prepare for and survive those times by embracing the commands that follow in vs.16-24.
Without getting into too much detail, I think they can be broken up into 3 categories. People in ministry can survive by cultivating 1) thankful hearts (vs.16-18) 2) teachable hearts (vs.19-21) and 3) pure hearts (vs. 22-24).
Having our hearts focused on Christ in those ways will prevent us from acting out in the flesh and responding in sinful ways when people become problematic and ministry becomes thankless.