Another question I get asked quite often is whether I will go into full time ministry. Each time I’ve given the same answer but it was never an answer that I felt fully confident about; as in, it didn’t feel like an answer that correctly portrayed my feelings and thoughts about the issue. And I don’t expect people to get it when I say that I have a feeling that I’ll be doing full ministry in the future, just not now. I guess if I had to describe what I mean by that, I would probably draw upon the “gut feeling” that Mandy tells me about. It’s kind of like that. Confused? I am too.
But apart from that I think this semester at university has given me much to think about in terms of full time ministry. All of you will know that I had a busy semester (still having – it’s not over yet) but only few of you will know to what extent I’ve been busy. And that’s fine. Given my restriction on time I haven’t really been able to share my daily life with many people, and that is quite saddening at times. Nonetheless, I think looking back at everything this semester, I’ve come to a strong temporary conclusion about full time ministry. Strong, as in I feel “strongly” about it, as described above. And “temporary” as in my decision may change later on.
For now, I will not go into full time ministry. I see the desperate need for it, but for now, I don’t think it is for me. Does that mean I’ll give up ministry entirely? Obviously not. I’ll definitely keep doing ministry at my church after I graduate, it just won’t be a full time thing. As for the reason behind it, I’m glad people gave me examples of reasons to think over. Have I been “called” by God to do it? Sure, I guess I can say that. Is it a money issue? Not exactly but it does make me hesitate a bit, not enough to put me off full time ministry. Then what is it?
I’ve come to realise that full time ministry seems to mean ministering to people all the time. I take one look at my pastor and I see he is doing just that. That’s not something I can do. Relating to people all the really isn’t something I can do, especially if it’s with people I’m not familiar with. Now that’s different to work. There is no expectation for me at “work” to keep a strict guard over my behaviour and to evangelise, train and encourage my workmates. Sure, they are great things, but in the workplace, they would not be my primary tasks. Not doing them would be okay. I guess in other words, the responsibility of full time ministry is too great for me to carry.
Over this semester, my godliness has taken a great hit. Of course most of you on the front end aren’t really exposed to my negativity, but there are people back stage who cop a lot of my venting, like my parents for instance; those people know who they are. And just having that pressure of needing to be a “holy” person in front of everyone all the time is just too much this semester. Yes, of course you say to me that there’s no expectation to be perfect, and indeed full time ministers are not perfect all the time. However, you definitely cannot swing to the other extreme whereby if you are tired or stressed you just let it out at whoever is present; everyone knows you can’t do that. There will be a breaking point for each person whereby they won’t be able to hold it in, sure. However, nobody else knows where that point is. And for the people we don’t see breaking down much, we tend to think that they can handle a lot of stress. So in a sense, the higher you go, the harder you’ll fall when you break down.
I honestly don’t think I’ll be ready in the short term for full time ministry, there is much honing in my attitude to be done over the coming years before I will consider it again. I’ve said it before that this was my busiest semester to date, and I honestly do feel disappointed at how hard a struggle it has been, not only to get all my work done, but also to get it done in a godly way. I think at the end of each week it’s been so hard that I can’t even keep my lips in check for one hour while playing badminton with my high school friends. I don’t really have an excuse for that, and as such if the same thing were to happen while I was in full time ministry, it just wouldn’t be good for anyone who was caught in that situation.
One line summary? I will not do full time ministry (for now) because I am not “perfect” enough.
I predict I’ll get the answer: “But you need to rely on God to be “perfect” and not on your own strength”. Sure, at the moment I don’t really have much of an answer to that to formulate a decisive point, so I’ll probably give an answer to the first few people who ask. But after that I’ll probably get tired of it, so if I reject answering the above question please don’t feel offended. I think this will do for now.