To those who are called, the shepherding ministry is meant by God to be one of life's greatest joys. Yet like a clipper ship sailing past the tip of a great unknown continent in the dead of night, this joy is vast, unexpected, and easy to miss.
For many, the initial joy of shepherding souls fades into exhaustion, resentment, even burnout. It does not last. It was not meant to. Much of the early reward of ministry done well is rooted in the gratification of the natural self. The immature shepherd fails to glory in weakness and naturally prefers to glory through strength, giving God the credit of course.
Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me . . . he must take up his cross." But why a cross? For the joy set before us. Only ministry embraced as an opportunity to die will reduce the temptation to eventually hate it. Only when walking in the power of a crucified life will a minister be anything more than powerless. Only once fallen to the ground and perished will a leader bear much fruit.
So wrestle that shepherd's cross on your shoulders. There is much joy yet to be discovered.