This is probably the most important lesson I have had to learn as a leader. If we don't get this our ministries and families will be miserable. Needless to say that we, the minister, will be miserable. The reason many may stop reading here is because this deals with our heart instead of creating systems for growth.
I have had the Lord check my heart in a major way lately. I have had spiritual CAT Scans and MRI's done. I felt God really speaking to me that I have "entitlement" issues. Ministry seems so selfless and great, but the truth of the matter is that inside of all us there is a "self-serving" piece of our hearts. We can tell how much of this cancer we have when we face thankless situations time and time again.
I realized that I was upset because people were not giving back as much as I was giving them. I figured that if I poured my heart into them then they would become committed and stable. WRONG. I found discouragement creeping in. It was during this time that I felt the Lord say, "Kevin, as long you feel like people are here for your pleasure you will always feel that way. You are here for THEIR purpose, they are not here for yours."
I realized that God will allow us to be put in seeminlgy thankless, obscure and emotionally draining situations to show us what is really in our hearts. Are we leading because we need the people to approve and we need them?
Here are some observations on this issue:
1. People will never give back as much as you put in.
I put in like 8 hours on one situation a few weeks ago. I am not sure how your time looks, but for me that is a lot of time. None of the folks that took up those hours showed up to our worship experience. You have to be selfless when ministering. You don't put in to get back. You put in because you are being faithful.
2. Entitled People Get Easily Offended AND Frustrated
If you are the least bit entitled then you will find yourself perpetually frustrated. If you have the "deserving" mentality then you will never find fulfillment. The ability and call to lead is a privilege. It is an honor. It is a blessing. The opportunity to be hurt and abandoned in the process is also an honor, privilege and blessing. The only thing we are entitled to is to share in His sufferings.
3. The Pity Party Leader Never Throws Parties
The pity party leader is like the donkey, Eor, from Winnie the Pooh. You are like, "Hey bro, how is it going?" They are like, "Well, no one cares. Half the people did not show up this week. I did not get anything for Pastor Appreciation. If I jump off a bridge, no one will notice."
This mentality is also a cancer. It hinders us from being able to have fun, be free and enjoy the ride. No matter how many people you have or at what stage you are at---- you will always "need" more. You will need more attention, more people, more offerings, more influence and more love. Learn to be content and throw parties. Celebrate and be grateful for every small thing that comes to your life. Throw parties!