It happens to all of us in ministry at some point. The work to which we know God has called us becomes painful. Sometimes it happens because we grieve the sin of others. At other times, it happens because others wrongly accuse us of something. And, to be frank, it's sometimes painful because others rightly point out something we need to hear. When the pain's great, here are some steps to consider:
- Don't run from your calling. You can't run far enough to outrun God's plan, and ignoring your calling will bring only more pain. In fact, the pain of disobedience is usually greater than other kinds of pain.
- Without throwing others under the bus, ask trusted friends to pray that God will give you wisdom. None of us is wise enough to deal with everything we face, and all of us will at some point respond wrongly to a situation. We desperately need God's wisdom.
- Remember that we're sinners working with sinners. That truth doesn't give any of us permission to do ungodly things, but it does remind us to be patient with each other.
- Ask God to teach you whatever you need to learn from the pain. It's often the case that God is teaching us something, even when others unjustifiably stand against us. Sometimes we learn through our own unhealthy reactions where our heart still needs some work.
- Graciously and lovingly confront others as needed. You may well need to call someone to repentance, but do so with grace and mercy. Don't respond in a way that's no better than how others have wrongly acted.
- Look around, and prayerfully seek evidence of God's hand in your ministry. In the midst of pain, it's easy to see only that—and not see what God is doing in other areas of your ministry. Don't let the enemy turn your attention to only the negative.
- Know that the pain doesn't have to be enduring. I've had several times in my years of ministry that I was ready to quit that day. In those times, I was often hurt, angry, disillusioned (often rightly so)—and I'd had enough. I can now look back, though, and see that pain didn't have to mark the rest of my ministry. God graciously brings us through the heartache.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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