Four years ago this week my eldest daughter, for an academic project, needed to interview someone relating to their profession. She chose to ask me a series of questions relating to my life as a pastor. Having been reminded of this today I read back through my answers and the answer to this question is necessary for many who are in the ministry of shepherding these days. I have already made the distinction of a pastor/shepherd and just a teacher/preacher. The first does the second but not all who do the latter are called to the first. This answer was given to a 16-year-old girl who has always been fascinated by the work of the Lord in our lives, and moreover, His providence in the times of great hardship.
How has being a pastor affected your life? Well, it has made my life hard. Ministry for the average “church” is just a list of things done and programs practiced, but for me it has been different. Having pastored churches of over 2000 members as well as churches of 40 members, God has allowed me to see one continual stream through it all: suffering. In suffering God is made brighter because I have not been able to qualify any success in ministry by my wisdom or hands. So, at many times pastoring is a lonely place, even though we are surrounding continually by people, the burden is difficult to express and in some ways, unnecessary. Many pastors will lie and say, “It’s a big ball of fun..” But it isn’t, it is gloriously satisfying but gravely burdensome. So, to simply put it, pastoring has allowed me to see that my life is not mine, but it is God’s and He has given it away to others for His name’s sake. This gives me great satisfaction.
This, among other things, is a great reminder and glimpse at the nature of the cross work of Christ, the continued work of laboring as Paul and the Apostles did for the sheep of Christ. We will suffer and we will suffer well.
 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia,  serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews;  how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,  testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,  except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.  But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:18–24)
Joy is often difficult to find in the midst of trials. Christ is our joy, He doesn’t just “bring” our joy and even when we can’t find it, see it or feel it, it is there because the Promises of Christ of Christ is there.
“The Joy of the Lord is our Strength.”