The Christian worker is a strange breed. He or she wants it to look as if the work is terribly hard. In fact, the more difficult and strained the look, the better. Christian workers are notorious for what I call the “tired blood” look, better known as the overburdened and outdated “missionary image,” or, better stated, the exhausted “overburdened religious image.” They usually carry an old, worn-out Bible, and walk with a slump, listing to port. They seldom smile—sort of a “please pity me” image. Makes me want to gag.
I don’t mean to be super critical. The tragic reality is, some of these folks are overworked and hardly have enough to live on. But I believe you can be in full-time ministry without having to resemble the poor-me stereotype.
The happiest people on earth ought to be those of us in God’s service. And we ought to look like it. We have every reason to smile more than anyone else. Even though our work is terribly serious, we ought to have more fun and have a better time doing it than anybody in any other career or calling. I think an individual in cross-cultural ministry or a local pastor ought to be able to enjoy his or her taste in music and live it up, just like anybody else.
Frankly, those who look as if they’ve just finished their last piece of bread do not minister very effectively, certainly not to me. Those who minister to me, and those to whom I think I minister, are men and women who truly enjoy life. We really don’t need to spend all our time on the negatives of life; there are enough heart-breaking experiences to go around for all of us.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Ministry is not an easy calling. There are times when you must work longer than you should. And those times can occur back to back. But we don’t need to remind most pastors of the need to work harder. We need a reminder of another sort. “You’re making your job harder than it should be. Share the load. Lighten up! Your work can be easier. Let us help you get these things done.”