|Photo by: David Castillo Dominici|
Here are a few true ministry scenarios. These examples are typical of ministries all over the world, including yours. My purpose in sharing is to encourage. (Hang on, the good stuff’s coming!)
- Many years of effort and hundreds of dollars help a young man with a heart for missions get a college education and start on deputation. He marries, divorces, remarries . . . .
- A young woman comes to church, gets saved and baptized. She drops out of church, marrying an unsaved man and having other immoral relationships. A life issue brings her back to church, and she starts to grow and change. Later, she backslides and goes back to old habits, including dating another unsaved man.
- A person makes a business decision that harms another believer. When confronted, there is no favorable resolution, so the offended party gets the pastor involved. Instead of resolution, the whole family leaves the church.
- In counseling, a divorced woman is advised to give up the boyfriend she’s interested in. There are red flags all over the place. (This will be yet another abusive relationship.) She continues toward another harmful marriage.
- A man ignores all sound, biblical advice and does exactly the opposite of what he should. Now, he wishes the consequences of his actions hadn’t happened.
- A mother balks at the teaching that she can and should protect her children from the world. She criticizes. How can her teacher be so narrow-minded? Years later, sadly, this lady only has one out of her many children attending church services.
- A wife will not respect her husband. She puts him down, criticizes, and is unthankful. She doesn’t see the problem, though she has been counseled many times to change how she talks to her husband.
- The pastor’s wife has to confront several young women one-on-one about their lifestyles, specifically fornication. The women never return to church.
Sometimes, it seems there are more failures than successes. We did and said exactly what the Bible says to do. We did our best to be kind, loving, and Spirit-led, but we got the result we least wanted:
- We wanted resolution and got rebellion.
- We wanted restoration and got leaving the church.
- We wanted to encourage growth in the Lord and got more sinning.
- We wanted to warn and got stubbornness.
Now, for the encouragement:
- Our ministry is not in vain. God says so. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
- When you take biblical, loving steps, God honors them. You might not see the results you want, but you’ve been faithful. That’s what counts! God judges our faithfulness. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry (1 Timothy 1:12).
- Each person is responsible for his own reaction to admonition or correction. Your responsibility is to give godly advice in a sweet, loving manner. The other person is responsible for heeding it. Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me (Ezekiel 33:2-7).
- God uses His Word in His way and in His time. Never think what you have shared from the Bible was useless. You never know how or when the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts. The word of God is not bound (2 Timothy 2:9b). For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
In this New Year, remember:
- When you see failure, God sees faithfulness.
- When you are disappointed in people, God is not disappointed in your biblical message and actions.
- When you followed the right steps toward conflict resolution, God knows you did right.
- When you warned, you did the right thing. It’s the listener’s responsibility after that.
- When you see no “results,” you might not be seeing the whole picture. There are many testimonies of Christians who never knew in their lifetimes the impact of their consistent witness. Remember to Whom we’re responsible. It’s God’s work, after all.
Love your Lord! (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Love your Lord! (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Be zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)
Don’t lose hope! (Romans 15:13)
Be thankful. (Ephesians 5:20)
Be joyful. (Philippians 4:4)
Now thanks be unto God,
which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,
and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge
by us in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
May God bless your life and ministry!