A few days ago, a millennial co-worker, called X for short, shared about his mentality and struggles in the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
X has served as the head of the student fellowship for more than seven years, during which he tasted the ups and downs of pastoral ministry. After 2020, he is not as enthusiastic as before due to the pandemic, becoming a father, as well as various environmental changes. He reveals his own psychological changes on the road of ministry.
"Before the age of 30, I served the Lord very enthusiastically, but after having a family and a child, I become increasingly worried, and the cost of raising and educating children was a real challenge." The preacher said, “Before I had a family, I felt that there was no difficulty in my life. Now, however, I have to manage every detail, with lower incomes but still high consumption. In my family, I used to work as a co-worker and volunteered to serve in the church, while my wife earned money to support the family. Later, my daily life needs to be increased, and my ambition to serve the Lord was also affected. I am no longer as passionate as before."
When talking about the environmental changes, Brother X said, "Now I serve mainly young people born between 1995-2000. Times have changed. In the past, everyone begged to come to the church, but now the church begged them to attend services. Four years later, after they graduated from college, most of them went to other places, and very few of them were able to commit themselves for a long time. Meanwhile, because of the pandemic, the people whom I serve are often unable to meet each other, which greatly reduces the pastoring effectiveness and makes me feel depressed."
What worries him most is that his work is not a traditional and fixed work, which is easy to encounter the incomprehension and pressure of people around him, and may indirectly disturb his family and children."I often worry that my fervent service could bring hardship and uneasiness to my family. Over time, I began to fade out as a front-line preacher," he added.
The preacher confessed, "I once wanted to leave this city for my child's kindergarten education, because private kindergartens are very expensive, while public kindergartens need a local registered permanent residence or social security records. I worried that I didn't have social security records so my child wouldn’t be able to attend the kindergarten. One day I prayed to God that if you want me to stay here, please let me solve my child’s schooling as soon as possible, or I will have to leave here. Amazingly, when I was going through the admission formalities, a staff member saw me leading my child. She first asked if my children were of the right age to go to kindergarten. I said yes, but was not applying yet, as I didn't know if there were any quotas in public kindergartens. She gave me her phone number and said that she would handle it for me. As a result, things went very smoothly, and my child entered the kindergarten. I see that God will really lead me if I do his will."
There used to be rich churches that would like to hire him, but through inquiring further, he learned that it still could not support his financial needs, so he dismissed the idea of continuing the full-time service. Now X still serves the Lord, but he would choose an auxiliary position. If someone as powerful as Moses leads in front, he is willing to continue to serve like Aaron, but he dares not stand in the pioneering or leading position now.
Facing the changeable environment, he reminded that he was often told in recent years, "It will be fine in a few years, it will be fine in a few years". For the current pandemic, it is the same, "The pandemic is coming to an end, and 2021 will be different", "The pandemic is coming to an end, and 2022 will be different" ... but the reality is getting worse.
Brother X said frankly that he was confused about where we were headed. Although his love for Jesus has never changed, and he is still holding on to the call to serving God all his life, it is patience and courage training for him to endure the present predicament.
Now all he can do is read the Bible every day, occasionally read other books, and support his family and child with some small business.
In the meantime, he is still praying that God will lead him to the future.
After the pandemic outbreak in 2020, there are many cases of struggles like those experienced by Brother X. With the rising house prices, daily product prices, and education costs, many pastors who are married and have children are living in such a dilemma. Some of them completely give up their initial calling, some select part-time service, and some are waiting for a turn for the better. But the changes brought about by the pandemic have aggravated this difficulty.
The road of servanthood is a road of dedication, self-sacrifice, and hardship. This has been the case since the time of Jesus and Paul. It is the urgent need of the churches to face the dilemma experienced by front-line co-workers between supporting their families and serving the Lord. No matter what attitude or system is, we need to make changes so that more passionate young co-workers can find their supplies and ministries.
- Translated by Oliver Zuo