Indulge me for just a moment:

Yesterday was such a great day of ministry I could barely go to sleep. I enjoyed it so much, I found myself saying, “I can’t believe I get to do this!” The praise was powerful, the church was dialed in from the get-go, we had a really powerful time of worship together, and the Gospel was preached. I thoroughly enjoyed ministry yesterday.

However, I found myself thinking of the days in times past where I had barely survived Sunday–and my heart went out to my fellow vineyard workers who had one of the worst weekends of their lives. They preached their last sermon at their church, got word they were no longer needed, or took a beating of biblical proportions. They were gossiped about, they had to talk their spouses and children into even attending, or they preached to a divided or pulseless church.

Let me ask you an important question this morning: Do you enjoy ministry? I don’t mean, “Did you enjoy yesterday?” I mean, in your Gut of Guts, do you really enjoy ministry?

You may not know the answer this morning. Some of us will whimper out a, “I think so.” Others of us will thunder a, “yes!” Let me say this plainly: Our joy in ministry is a precious commodity. Not our perpetual happiness–our joy–joy at seeing what God does in the lives of people. It’s what makes us keep going when budgets are upside-down, our heads hurt from banging them into the proverbial wall, or our hearts are crushed.

To those of us that had one of “those days” yesterday—or maybe even have a 50-week streak going—I’ve been there.

Guard your joy.

To that end, let me pray this blessing on you this morning:

Father, to each church leader or follower of Christ who needs encouragement this morning:

Restore unto them the joy of their salvation,

and the joy of ministry they’ve known.

Breathe into them this day your Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline,

and grant them a deep and sustained passion for Jesus and His Church.

Even when people are demeaning, cruel, or act without thinking.

Help them to know they are important to you so they will not seek the mere applause of people.

Surround their joy of serving you with your angels.

Keep them from sinning in their discouragement.

Grant them the humility to confess their discouragement to you and trusted Brothers or Sisters in Christ,

and to forgive those who sin against them.

Like Moses, may they realize your presence is everything,

so they will seek you always, first,

and drink from the wellspring of your Spirit rather than seeking the stagnant water of pride, revenge, or self-aggrandizement.

Heal their hearts,

Invigorate their vision,

Bolster their confidence in the power of the Gospel

Wipe away their tears,

Restore their joy,

and Shepherd them as they shepherd others,

that they may shepherd others as you have shepherded them:

firmly and gently.

In Christ’s name, Amen.