Christian ethics · Ministry and Mission · Tara Jane

When ministry is not glamorous

By Tara Jane


If you’re someone who considers what a life of ministry could look like, it’s easy to imagine it being pretty glamorous, with growing programs and people coming to know Christ and growing in their faith. But actually, we need to be content with unglamorous service.

When Jesus says we need to take up our cross daily, he’s not just talking about enduring pain and hardship from the world (although that needs to happen). We need to die to ourselves daily. We need to die to ourselves completely, including dying to our dreams of what it will look like to serve God, both now and in the future. We don’t always create the opportunities, sometimes our ministries are handed to us by the Lord, and sometimes they are as far from glamorous as you can get.

Dying to ourselves is about sacrificing the things we want for the kingdom of God.

What is an unglamorous ministry? It’s a ministry where nobody sees you serving. It includes faithfully walking beside someone through years of grief or pain. It’s the ministry which cuts into your personal time, for which the reward seems little and almost not worth it. It’s the faithful and quiet service of driving someone to and from church weekly, knowing they may never repay the favour or buy you a tank of fuel. It is being an ear for those whose burdens are great, and a patient ear for when they refuse to address problems that they could solve themselves. It is washing the feet of weary travelers, or in our case, putting fresh sheets on the bed and providing a hot supper for when they arrive. It is cleaning toilets, spending time talking to the person at church who is awkward and avoided, it is praying with all your might for those who are lost. Sometimes it is simply devoting yourself to caring for family members or friends who are enduring one season of hardship after another. It’s the ministry that we think is hard, that we can’t be bothered with, or that we struggle to do joyfully.

Unglamorous ministry can be discouraging, it can feel unrewarding, and it can be frustrating because we had a different type of service in mind. Unglamorous ministry demands a little louder that we die to ourselves, and these deaths hurt a little more because they have a higher cost.

There are many ways and opportunities to serve. There are many ways that God uses us to change eternity. Not all of them involve preaching or paid ministry roles. Not all of them involve theological study or overseas service. Sometimes ministry simply involves taking life one step at a time with others.

What is glamorous ministry anyway? We need to die to our ideas of what ministry will look like, and instead we need to roll up our sleeves and serve in unglamorous ways. This is the kind of service that Jesus demonstrates as he allows nails to be driven through his hands. This is the kind of service Philippians 2 talks about, where the infinite becomes finite in order to let the lives he created take his life. This is the kind of service where the King of kings dies the lowest of deaths in order to save sinners like you and I. There is nothing glamorous about hanging naked on a cross, but it is where God’s glory shines brightest.

When it comes to unglamorous ministry, we need to be more than just content. This is the kind of service we need to seek out. There are many ways to serve, not all of them can be glamorous but they can all bring glory to God.

How to tell if you chase glamorous ministry:

  • Do you get frustrated when people keep coming to you with the same issues and struggles?
  • What ministries do you give your money to, and why do you fund particular people and causes?
  • What makes you disappointed in ministry?
  • What do you consider success in service?
  • Are there areas you don’t volunteer to serve in because you consider them beneath you? (Or maybe you just think that other things are worth your time more?)


This article was originally posted on blog – go and check it out. It’s a great resource for ministry ideas.


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