If you've ever tried to bake a cake you have come to understand that having all of the ingredients is a very important thing. For instance, when I was in 7th grade I had to take a home economics class that required us to bake a cake. Our group was tasked with finding a recipe, gathering the ingredients, mixing and baking a chocolate cake. Once we found the recipe we added all the necessary ingredients, mixed them together and popped it in the oven. As we waited our group thought that everything was going to plan, but we couldn't have been more wrong. As we pulled our cake out of the oven it didn't take us long to realize something went horribly wrong. We forgot an important ingredient. As we stared down at our cake that failed to rise we came to the conclusion that we forgot the baking powder. It was quite delicious in flavor but did not have the consistency a cake should have.
I believe that in ministry there are a couple of ingredients that we often leave out and it leads to burnout and disaster. The first ingredient is a burden. When doing ministry of any kind whether it be youth ministry, children's ministry, poverty alleviation, international missions you have to start with a burden. A burden is a heavy weight. When we have a burden for a specific group of people it weighs so heavily on our hearts that it prompts us to action. If I have a burden for the lost teens in my community it will spur me on to do something about it. If I have a burden that the people in my church family should live healthy, God pleasing lives then it will cause me to take charge and make a difference. If the burden for people is not present in our hearts we will never truly find purpose and meaning in what we do. If we serve out of obligation, we won't be motivated to press on when it's difficult. In ministry, we need to have a heavy heart for the people we are serving.
The other ingredient that is often missing from ministry compliments our burden. Joy helps us carry the weight of the burden we have for the people around us. We can only find joy in one place and that is in Christ. "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4. The lack of joy in a ministry is often what leads to burnout and resentment. This all to common problem can be remedied by simply being watchful as to where God is working. Look for evidences of God moving in people's hearts. These moments can often go overlooked because they happen over time but when we see God work, it gives us a means by which we can carry the burden for those around us.
Remember not to leave these two ingredients out of your ministry and it will be long and fruitful.