This post is intended to encourage the weary warrior in whatever ministry God has led and called them to. When I was a younger man in the early years of my first pastorate, the Lord allowed the enemy to bring me to the brink of quitting and to the pits of heartache. From this experience I have learned a few valuable lessons. Read 2 Timothy 4 if you would like to see the Lords teaching on this.
Why bother? Truly in whatever field you are in you will probably face these two words. Whether it’s parenting or pastoring or being married, eventually you will run up against the wall of discouragement and disappointment. Often enough it comes from within, as you face your inner ‘demons’ and realize just how far you have to go before you feel satisfied with yourself. This can be bad enough. However, when those we love fail or fall or even walk away from the Lord, as a minister this can be grievous. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s lament over his fellow laborer Demas. “Demas has deserted me! Because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica.” When I was off planting my first church and in my first pastorate later on these were words that could have just as easily dropped my lips. In the same chapter Paul laments about Alexander the coppersmith doing much evil against Paul.
The lesson of longsuffering came while I was in this first church. In the first two years, I lost a good friend to colon cancer, one of our greatest supporters and encouragers in this little church. Then I lost another to the world and another and another. It became nearly intolerable. There were those that I had invested my heart, soul, and tears in that simply walked away. If you are in ministry and love people you can identify. You know the soul wrenching heartache. If you haven’t the heart for it, this probably seems dramatic or trite. However, in 2 Timothy 4 where Paul mentions both Demas and Alexander he opens with this statement “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” From there he sure does open up his heart for us to catch just a glimpse of what he meant. So what are the lessons that the Lord taught me in the why bother season?
- Lesson One. We are called to suffer as ministers. We are called to be patient and loving and enduring. The results of our ministry are in God’s hands. The work of our ministry is in ours. If you are in ministry and haven’t endured longsuffering yet, don’t worry you will.
- Lesson Two. There is only so much that we can do. We will have our Alexanders and Demas’ but ultimately they are accountable to the Lord for their actions and lives. Will it hurt? Yes.
- Lesson Three. The LORD is with me and will strengthen me for the suffering ahead just as He did for Paul. My faithfulness depends on His faithfulness. Without out Jesus, I am overwhelmed and easily discouraged. Thus the need for this message. Suffering comes and goes, people come and go, success comes and goes, but Jesus remains forever by my side. I simply need to trust Him and look to Him remembering that in due season I will reap, either here or in heaven above.
- Lesson Four. THE LORD IS MY PURPOSE. I do this for HIM first and to please HIM first, most and best. Seeing life change is great, it’s our mission and our commission, but behind that mission is the purpose to love Jesus. He is the reason I do what I do, everything else pales in comparison to this truth. Noah preached for over 100 years because God told him to, and he only saw 7 others come to the Ark. If your purpose is life change and that is what motivates you, you’ll probably either quit or be miserable.
So why bother? The simple answer is because JESUS has called me to. As long as JESUS wants me to do this, I will do it. Our church recently went through a series on our core values. The last one we preached on was simply we value JESUS-HE is EVERYTHING. This is why. Without Him it’s intolerable, without Him there is no purpose, without Him there is no joy in sorrow.
WHY BOTHER? JESUS DID.