Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Ministry--let's be real shall we--it isn't always glorious. It isn't always rewarding. It isn't always easy.
You don't usually hear that right out of Bible college or seminary. You hear just the opposite: You're equipped! Thousands like you have gone before. Take the world by storm. Be Jesus to the masses.
The reality is this: ministry is difficult, messy, full of broken people, and not about you. This can lead us to some very hard places. Places of doubt and anxiety. Feelings of am I good enough? We may question our calling and if it's time to move on.
I've been there. In fact, if I were completely honest, I've been there more times than I care to admit. I just walked through a period exactly like I described. Feelings of doubt. Questions of calling. Hurt. Depression. Worthlessness. Asking God why...
The truth is I questioned if I was to be in ministry after a very, very hard season. A season that saw much pain and grief. A season marked by lack of affirmation, being moved without understanding why, and wondering why we were leaving good students who we loved and cared for.
"God," I cried out, "Why does it hurt?! Did You not call me to this? Why is there so much pain? Such heartache? Do you have a plan? Am I washed up?"
Many of you are or have been there. You question why. You wonder if you're called. You take a break from ministry to heal and consider not going back. You cry...for hours, days, months...you've been there. I have too.
But in walking through this I have seen that it is worth it. That God has a plan. That ministry can and will get better. That there is light at the end of the very long tunnel. That we are called. That the enemy will try to use doubt, inadequacies, hurtful comments, critical natures, and rough patches to try to turn you from being God's faithful servant.
Brothers and sisters hear me: we are called according to God's purpose, by the One who foreknew us, and is using us to accomplish His workmanship! Ministry was never meant to be easy. We are called to a life of difficulty in ministering to a world that has turned its back on its Savior. There will be moments of suffering, moments of fracturing, but also moments of great joy!
We do not do this for our own affirmation. We do not do this for notoriety. We do not do this to be the best friend of students or to be the most popular youth pastor. We do not do this to be liked or given gifts. We do not do this to be the center. We do this to point to the Center: our Savior.
This season was hard. As I was sharing with my students about why God was calling us away. As I wept openly looking at students that I had become a father to. As I asked why, God spoke. He spoke through the many hands that students laid on my wife and I. He spoke through the parents who hugged us goodbye. He nourished our spirits as students and volunteers talked of how God worked through us to help them. He wept with Elise and I as we said goodbye to our home. He rejoiced as we were welcomed to where He called us. He smiled as we connected with new students. He whispered "trust Me" as we began to faithfully walk in a new ministry and season.
My friends. My co-laborers. Know that ministry is hard, but it is worth it! We may not always see it on this side of eternity, but know that you can continue to serve because our rest and our reward is in Him and Him alone. The author and perfecter of all things! It will get better, God will use you, lives will be changed, and God will say, "Well done, My good and faithful servant." Ministry is worth it!