The Soul-Challenges of “Throughness”


When I began serving in denominational ministry six years ago, my mentor said, “You need to realize that the rewards of your work will be experienced by others, by congregational leaders, often in ways that you can’t see. You will be practicing “Throughness,” blessings will flow through you to others in often invisible ways, and this invisibility can wear down your soul.”

I discovered that he was right. “Throughness” is present to varying degrees in all of our ministry work as we serve regions or classes, and I’ve heard many colleagues reflect on this “soul-challenge.”

How do you experience this? How do you deal with it?

Here are some ways our colleagues have addressed these challenges:

  1. I try to pray without ceasing, better my relationships with staff members, exercise forgiveness regularly, seek out measurables (where I can see a difference), see God in creation and care for it, connect to my local church experience to remain grounded, read biographies of other leaders and faith shapers, commit to family meals. —Darren Roorda, Canadian Ministries Director
  2. My kids tease me for being the “bird lady”, but watching the birds that come to my feeders are a constant reminder of two things: God’s attention to detail in His creation and God’s attention to me. Matthew 10:31 “So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” —Trudy Ash, Connections & Faith Formation, USA Central
  3. I try to spend at least 15 minutes (preferably first thing in the morning) reading and reflecting on a passage from God's word, then taking a run or a bike ride for another half-hour afterwards where I do some deeper reflection, then writing a one-page reflection about how I hear God speaking to me for the day. Each day I find “holy serendipity,” a challenge to apply what I learned or a person that God puts in my path to encourage with a message from this reflection. —Ida Mutoigo, World Renew Canada
  4. When I'm on the road, especially after a discouraging visit or a tough conversation, I always get lifted back up by listening to some great contemporary Christian worship music on the Message, a satellite radio station that goes wherever I do. It can brighten the darkest day, at least for me! —Paul VanderSteen, Back to God Ministries
  5. I view my ministry as primarily connecting people to God and each other, so when I see relationships growing that’s pretty tangible. But I also do different kinds of puzzles to remind myself to look at things from many angles, and to get some quick wins! —Scott DeVries, Connections & Ministry Support Services
  6. I try to connect with actual people who are in ministry to hear and understand more deeply what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what they are hoping to accomplish. It helps me to disconnect from my assumptions and caricatures of those that aren't making sense to me. —Al Postma, Classis Renewal
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