I was 22, fresh out of military service and at a young Methodist leaders conference when I first received that much-spoken-about burning sensation in my heart. That struggling-to-respond moment when a speaker called forth young leaders with a passion to serve God full time.
I did not want to accept it at first, but in the mix of confusion and excitement – mostly confusion – I responded and stood up for prayer.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, in fact, in my zeal, I shortly wanted to head straight to the nearest local seminary, but both my Church mentors and parents told me to wait and pursue a local degree first. This was the first testing of my full-time ministry calling.
What followed was a testing of my faith and identity. During my two years in university I started to lose sight of this call and, furthermore, was growing discouraged in my faith in God. I was starting to make plans to live a “normal” life with a job that wasn’t full-time ministry, not traditionally anyway.
It was in early 2014 – amidst the uncertainty of what I wanted to do upon graduation – that I had a prompting in my heart to join YWAM and do a 6-month discipleship programme with them. After praying about it and processing my decision with my Church, a few days after the last exam paper of my university life, I flew to join YWAM Perth in July 2015.
After the six months, I joined YWAM on staff and was based in Perth. There, I participated in a worship ministry, joined the staff team of the same programme and led a 3-month outreach.
But being a part of YWAM Perth had been an uphill battle. I was battling against my parents’ wishes for me to stay in Singapore and against a culture of financial stability as I had to raise support for my finances every month.
In my parents’ pre-believing eyes, I was begging for money and they had no idea why I had to travel so often to other countries, many of them unsafe in their eyes.
My friends and mentors from my Church also had differing opinions. Some discouraged me from going, others encouraged me to think about it carefully so as to not regret anything. It was a tough decision, but after God’s divine provision of the necessary finances, I made up my mind and officially joined YWAM in 2016.
My time in Perth were some of my best years. Being able to pursue my passion in music and getting trained by some of the best musicians I know, all while living and breathing the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations with a vibrant and loving community … I was living the life. The full-time ministry life.
I received hurtful comments like “welcome back to the real world”, as if life in Perth had been an illusion – or my delusion.
But soon after I was unexpectedly re-routed back home due to a family emergency. It was the second test to my full-time ministry calling.
I had to make the painful decision of leaving my YWAM family and coming home. And if that weren’t bad enough, I even received hurtful comments like “welcome back to the real world”, as if life in Perth had been an illusion – or my delusion.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, God had different plans. While I was wallowing in my frustrations of being back in Singapore, He opened the door for me to join my local church as a Youth Worker. One thing led to another, and I found myself still able to serve full-time in Christian ministry back home.
Of course, there were still many new challenges that presented themselves. Here are a few lessons I’ve carved out for myself.
LESSONS FROM A MILLENNIAL MINISTRY WORKER
1. Expect some loneliness
One of the early challenges I faced was the loneliness of full-time ministry. If you work in Church, you might not see your volunteer team mates from Monday to Friday. I found it hard to work and move things forward when I could only see my team on the weekends.
And when I started to apportion my weekends for meetings with my youth, I stopped meeting up with my peers, who also only had the weekends to hang out and chill.
It’s thus important to surround yourself with like-minded Kingdom warriors who carry their crosses for the sake of Christ. They will be your most loving and understanding support group.
2. Know the point of your work
I had to reconcile within myself that the work I’m doing, despite not being a regular 9 to 5 job, has eternal significance. The work of discipleship that Jesus calls all of us to is investing in relationships – in people and their spiritual growth.
We can miss this crucial point when we busy ourselves with too much programme, especially as ministry workers. You could very well become an efficient events coordinator and an ineffective minister of God’s grace.
3. Create space for yourself
One of the biggest things that I struggled with in the first few months (and still do) was creating a healthy space for myself to care for my own soul. I tend to pack my schedules with meeting people and never-ending work – and am usually left with little energy to exercise, listen to music or even just rest!
So I’ve had to forcibly create space for self care, and I highly recommend it. Do things that refresh you, whether its art, music, exercise, movies, reading or sleeping. You are equally important.
4. Always keep God in the picture
The most important takeaway that I’ve gained from this journey is that my faith and relationship with God is key to the entire process.
It was through personal meditation on Scripture and spending time journalling my ups and downs that the wisdom and understanding from God came through. It held me through the toughest times and guided my decision making.
As full-time ministers, we have an authority greater than our earthly bosses to stick close to, and that’s the Word of God – and the God of the Word. We need to spend time studying and pondering over what He’s saying in Scripture and speaking into our hearts.
5. Don’t give in to discouragement
I remember one time I preached what I thought was a terrible sermon and was flooded with thoughts of condemnation and discouragement.
When I prayed about it later that night, God deposited a simple truth in me, to not take myself too seriously and to keep my heart aligned with His through the tough times. That it was okay to be discouraged, to not have done well at times – but I needed to go easy on my heart and to follow Him closely through the journey.
So my fellow full-time ministers, take it from our Heavenly Boss: Enjoy the ride and don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot and carry the joy of God in your heart wherever you go. That’s what people will remember you for.
If you are interested in finding out more about full-time ministry, feel free to drop us an email. For those interested in YWAM’s Discipleship Training School, you can visit their page here.
YWAM Singapore is a growing part of a dynamic global movement of mobilising the worldwide Church to reach the peoples of Asia. As a mission, they see themselves serving as a springboard from which many launch off into the Asian harvest fields.