Ministry Casualties

Monday’s Ministry Encouragement: Written to encourage you, my friend in ministry, to be refreshed and renewed as we live for Christ and look toward the Bema.

It’s Sunday evening. Time to unwind after a long day of ministry. As I check my Twitter account, I read this tweet from DrMalachi.eth (@malachiobrien). My attention is captured in the first two seconds with the words “pastors resigned.”

As I read each line, my heart is broken for these servants. I don’t know them. I wish I did so I could reach out to them and offer a listening ear, a compassionate, caring heart and some genuine words of encouragement.

Since my dad was a pastor, all I’ve known in my 64 years of life is local church ministry. Within those years, I’ve served as lead pastor for almost 40 years. These statements ring a dissonant chord in my heart that is all too familiar, yet each one reminds me there is hope!

Ministry friend, on this Monday, do any of these situations describe you? Could you add something else to the list?

Could I just put my arm around you and share the following (after I have listened to you for as long as you wanted talk)?

1. You are never alone in the ministry. Your Heavenly Father really means it when He says, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6).

2. Seriously, let God handle you, people and the circumstances. All that is happening has been permitted/sent by God to reveal His character, plan and promises to you. He is using this to form Christ in you (Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 4:9). In the midst of the hardship, it is difficult to grasp this. This is when you have to not “doubt in the dark what you know to be true in the light.” Moment-by-moment, surrender to God. Soak your soul in Psalms 3; 4; 11; 73:21-28; Romans 12:9-21.

3. Preach the truth to yourself; do not listen to yourself. You will have many imaginary conversations in your mind. Exchange those chats with the Word of God. Philippians 4:8 reminds us, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Lamentations 3:21-23, But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

4. The eternal view eclipses the present trouble. Every day of our existence on earth, we must live and make decisions with eternity in mind. Romans 8:18 reminds us, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. And Colossians 3:1-4, If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

5. Ministry does not complete you; Christ in you makes you complete. Christ in you gives you complete salvation, complete comfort, complete peace, complete victory, complete assurance, complete hope, and complete joy because you are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). Once you focus on the problem and start trying to add to the completeness found only in Christ, you will be trying to prop up your life with your own “sticks.” Recognize your identity in Christ and your position before God through Christ. Ministry is not you, but Christ in you living His life out of you (Galatians 2:20).

6. Keep running to the cross. View the people of the conflict through the gospel and realize you are entering into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Furthermore, since the gospel takes care of your greatest crisis which is your total inability to keep yourself from hell as well as being reconciled to God, then Christ can take care of this crisis.

7. Find a quiet place to meet with God for an hour, half-day, or all day. No distractions allowed. Get a journal and your Bible and meet with the Lord. Read and pray through passages like Psalms 18, 62, 86. Stay in that meeting with the Lord until your soul is refreshed and renewed! Many times, the reason we are in a conflict or have reached a point of despair in ministry is due to being “too busy for the Lord.” As Warren Wiersbe said, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is rest.” Let the loving, compassionate words of God speak to you and be a balm for your soul. While you are there, don’t forget to spend some time looking into the empty tomb—there’s hope (Romans 6:8-9; 1 Peter 1:3).

The author of the following hymn, Joseph Scriven, knew great sorrow and hardship in his lifetime. Just as God gives songs in the night (Job 35:10), may these words find you singing as you abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge–
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

3 thoughts on “Ministry Casualties

  1. Dale,
    I was in ministry for 44 years and have seen and experienced the blessings and trials of ministry. One must keep their eyes on Christ alone.
    People, including professing Christians, will disappoint and hurt you. If you only focus on humanity you will be discouraged.
    Keep you eyes on Christ! He will never leave you or forsake you.

  2. Great word of encouragement Dale, My daughter and Son in law are going through ministry burnout. This is great, i will share with them.

    Even though I am not pastoring a church, Carol and I have a large Sunday School class we lead, with 40-50 members. It gets exhausting, trying to meet all the needs.
    I look so forward to your emails.
    Love ya,

    God Bless you and Denise

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