Surviving a First Year of Full Time Church Ministry: My Joys, Growing Edges and Tips

I began full-time ministry with Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in September of 2014, even though my call-iversary is in May and I was working 2 jobs at that time.

It’s been a most wonderful and deeply challenging year. Although it’s like my Capstone for seminary became my dream job; materializing for me at just the right time, it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park.

I feel as much now as I did the day I opened up that job posting, that I belong here with these people, and that this job is mine to thrive in.

And thrive, if I may say so myself, I have. There is, however, a thin line that separates thriving and striving (something I like to call pathological perfectionism) and this year, I found, crossed and tripped over that line.

When I first started, we were in quite the upheaval. We painted our offices, moved things from the old building to the new, and walked our people through the process of losing a beloved building.

They embraced me with open arms and hearts, almost completely furnished my apartment, and not two weeks into my time there, began ending phone conversations with “I love you.”

I fell so in love with my church and the mission and the vision for what we were doing, that the insecurities that have followed me around since that fateful day in 4th grade math class surfaced, wrapped their arms around me in a death grip, and squeezed for about 2 or 3 months.

The would say things like “eventually they’ll realize you were a mistake for this position,” or “they could replace you at any time, you better do an amazing job,” or, ” be perfect so they’ll keep you around.”

Listen to those voices long enough, then miss a couple of deadlines, and watch your resolve crumble into shivers and dry heaves on a church bathroom floor; or brace yourself for dizzying panic attacks the minute you walk into the office.

Isn’t that something? Crippling anxiety upon pulling into a church parking lot. Insecurities unchecked will squeeze the life out of you and drain your spirit.

Needless to say, my growing edges include sabbath and resting well, and trusting more in God and less in myself.

In the nick of time, I got bronchitis and this time was not able to just shrug it off.

Some forced rest time let me catch up on sleep, writing ideas and truly resting in being good enough by the simple fact that I am God’s beloved.

I enter this next year of full- time ministry with these dear people with fond memories of all the joys we’ve shared this year; excited for what’s next and ready to trust again.

Tips For Surviving a First Full- Time Ministry Job in a Church, or, My Second Year Resolutions

– Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

– Don’t listen to your insecurities; listen to your insights and spend time exploring what God is doing through your insights rather than spending time in worry or fear

– Get a good coffee tumbler

– Find a good counselor, and take meds if you need them

– Let your growing edges help you… wait for it… grow!

-Choose trust instead of fear.

– Spend lots of time in study and prayer

– Find ways to nourish your other passions and develop your unique gifts

– eat well and exercise

– show up, love your people and trust God with each dear life

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