Contentment in the Hardships of Ministry

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in Neale Davis | 0 comments

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People

 

 

“It is only a heart that is satisfied in Christ that can be spiritually content in the hardships of ministry.”  P 64.

 

Let’s face it.  Life is sometimes very difficult and always very challenging.  It can often feel like these challenges can come at us as persistent and continual as the waves that roll onto the shore.  Sometimes they seem like huge waves that can knock us off of our feet and sometimes they are small and easily navigated.  But like the ocean, we can make no mistake or carry no delusion; these waves are going to keep coming regardless of our circumstances or talent at attempting to avoid them.

In Romans 8:28 we read, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” These are incredibly powerful and hopeful words, but often we can read these words (or quote them like a mantra) to mean that we will soon have no problems.  Under the “not yet” category of Scriptura, we can know that this rescue from our struggles and problems will be true, but we are not there yet. One day we will be with the Lord, and in the previous verses Paul reminds us how the glory of that experience will make our present struggles seem insignificance in their power to overwhelm.  But, again, we are not there yet.

Whenever we read Romans 8:28 we must be sure to read Romans 8:29 which offers us the reason that 8:28 is true.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

The Lord’s intent in working out all things: His glory and our sanctification.  He intends for us to be conformed into Christ’s image, not to provide us with a problem free life.  So, our response to this struggle becomes very important in this process.  Instead of anesthetizing ourselves when in pain, we need to embrace that struggle and rest in the character of God, which is always good.  We must be satisfied in Christ and the completeness he has brought to us.  As the theme of Hebrews says, Christ is better.  Until we can agree with that and fully embrace the truth of Christ’s sufficiency, the hardships that come in ministry will prove overwhelming and can have the potential to knock us off of our feet.

There are three points that might be helpful here.  When you are faced with an onslaught of challenges consider these points.

  1. God’s character is consistently and thoroughly good.  Our finitude will always make it impossible for us to comprehend an infinite God, but he has always shown himself as good and for us, not against us.  As Job said following his conversation with God, “though you slay me, I will praise you.”  God is a promise keeper.
  2. Actively thank him for each struggle you encounter.  Yes, thank him.  This takes your focus off of the struggle, or how you are interpreting it, and expresses faith and focus on Christ.  The more inward you turn and the more you attempt to figure it out, the worse it can become.  Turn your eyes toward Christ.  Jesus said that if we drink from his water we’ll never thirst.
  3. Determine if your struggle is God-induced or self-induced.  Sometimes what happens to us is a directive of the Sovereign God we serve.  We must lean into these and learn from them.  But sometimes our struggles are due to poor thinking or unwise living.  God will also use these in his redemptive way, but we must grow in wisdom and discernment in how we navigate life.  If we are making poor choices and living unwisely then we need to ask the Lord (and others) how we can rectify that.

Ultimately we need to find our satisfaction and identity in Jesus, not anywhere else.  Not in our ministry, bank account, our power to influence or even in our calling to ministry.  We must allow our heart to be satisfied in Christ.  Otherwise, when difficulty comes in ministry we will become overwhelmed and confused.  Don’t let those waves overcome you.  In Christ, and in Christ alone, we are more than conquerors.

 

To read past blog posts on this important series go to www.bridgehavencounseling.org/dangerouscalling.

To order a copy of your own of Paul Tripp’s book click on the link below.

535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles

 

 

 

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