Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#5)

The call to shepherd the flock of God and preach His eternal Word is an extremely weighty matter. Just as being a Christian is a contrast to the world, so is the role of a pastor.

The world tells you to climb the ladder of success; be somebody; be true to yourself; use people to reach the top; get a good education so you can make money and go places; make a name for yourself (leave your mark), etc.

Jesus lived the opposite. Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus said, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Paul followed Jesus’s example. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) and whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-8).

To overcome discouragement in ministry, we must find our identity first and foremost in Christ. We must surrender to Christ Who lives in us and the indwelling Spirit who will only enable us when Christ is the celebrity and not us. Only then will God be glorified.

You see, the ministry that God has called us to is not ours. We have no power to make it succeed. We do not have the foresight to control it. We are not the “main man” of the ministry. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches and apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

No wonder we get discouraged. We think that everything rises and falls on us. Friend, with all due respect, it rises and falls on God. Jesus said, I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH (Matthew 16:18). Paul said it so well as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (AMPC), Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).

How often I have become discouraged because a program I started failed, a church member did not do what I thought they should, numbers of people weren’t getting saved like I thought, revival had not come (yet it did come to the church in the next town), etc. These were my expectations. These words in Psalm 62:5 are a fulfilling guide for the Lord’s ministry, My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation (hope) is from Him.

I lost sight of Christ in my busyness. I had failed to be still and listen to Him in the prayer closet. The world and others had set my standards to be successful because they had “achieved success.”

Men, the person of ministry, the builder of ministry, the preeminent One of ministry and our identity in ministry is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And He {Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:17-18).

So, when ministry doesn’t meet up to your expectations, find your identity in Christ, surrender to the Christ in you, and soak your soul in the following:

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:5-11)

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