Guest post by James Sabin
It doesn’t take long for any youth pastor to experience the weight and pressure of ministry. It seems really easy to be overcome by the responsibility of shepherding students and their families well. There are emails to send, social media communications to create, parents to inform, senior leader expectations to meet, and we haven’t even begun to mention the responsibilities we have to our own families.
With every event, service, leadership meeting, and camp, failure seems to be just around the corner, and we can imagine the disappointment on the faces of those we have devoted ourselves to in this thing called ministry.
These feelings are normal, but they shouldn’t be familiar. Often, these feelings are the result of us trying to do ministry on our own. Ministry done on our own will always multiply these insecurities and fears. Jesus wants to encourage us that this isn’t supposed to be the norm. He calls us to experience life and ministry the way He designed for us to experience it – with Him and not just for Him.
Here’s how He says it, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
Reconciling Jesus’ words with our own experiences is difficult. Our spouses have seen the weight we carry, and our children know the all too familiar words, “Not now, I’m tired.”
Can Jesus words actually become a reality in our lives? I believe the answer is yes. Jesus is revealing to us how we can walk in His easy Yoke and join Him in carrying His light burden.
HIS YOKE IS EASY
Notice, Jesus says it’s His yoke. Yoke hints at work. Animals who wear yokes are working. Animals don’t just hang out in yokes as a fashion statement. By using the word pair, “My yoke,” Jesus is informing us that the yoke (work, responsibility to get the job done) is His. Jesus doesn’t say your yoke or even our yoke, but my yoke.
Jesus is the perfect carpenter who makes the yoke we will wear. Jesus shapes our side of the yoke perfectly, according to our exact specifications. Our side of the yoke is tailored just for us. It is not ill-fitting or cumbersome. It’s our very own special and unique place next to Jesus. It actually feels natural to wear and not awkward.
HIS BURDEN IS LIGHT
Jesus is calling us to come next to Him and tie into His perfectly crafted yoke for Him and us. I imagine when we do, He looks at us, smiles and says, “Are you ready to do this together?” When we work with Jesus, the work almost seems effortless and light. We have all experienced this lightness before, and Jesus wants us to experience it more often than not.
In the hard and heavy times of ministry, we may think, “Why do I feel like this, why are things so hard?” You see, It’s not just that we were created to do ministry, we were created to do ministry with Jesus. It’s when we do ministry for Jesus and without Jesus that we experience unnecessary pressure and pain.
THE PROBLEM WITH OUR YOKES AND BURDENS
The truth is we like to create our own yokes. When we do, we usually make them single yokes and not double yokes. We create them so that only we carry the load. When we do this in ministry, our daily tasks will seem dull, unproductive, and bothersome.
Jesus, on the other hand, makes double yokes. He creates them with the desire for Him and us to do life and ministry together. He then calls these double yokes He has fashioned “His.” I love that Jesus is always taking the pressure and outcome of ministry off of our shoulders and placing them on His.
Not only are we guilty of trying to create our own yokes, but we try and chart our own path and plans instead of yoking with Christ and following His purposes. This is when ministry gets heavy, and we strain. We know what this is like, we let wrong and selfish motives direct our decisions, we plan without praying, we assume without meaningful conversations, we force issues without care and compassion. We simply charge ahead without a second thought about Jesus and doing ministry with Him.
THE HOPE OF HIS YOKE AND BURDEN
Let’s stop trying to create our own single yokes and charting our own ill-informed and sometimes ill-intentioned courses, and let’s step into Jesus’ easy two-person yoke and follow His plan and purpose for Him and us, together.