The Ups and Downs of Ministry
Just an hour and a half away from our church is the famed, legendary home of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers, like most sports teams, have certainly had their fair share of drama with larger-than-life players who are heroes one day, and the subject of intense criticism the next. In many ways, the same is true in our lives. There are days when everything seems to be going well. We are having spiritual victory and in close communion with God. Our relationships are thriving, and God's blessing is evident. There are other days, however, when the bottom drops out and we're just hanging on for dear life hoping the ride will stop. Others have called this the roller coaster effect of ministry. In our study of Acts, we have witnessed Paul and Barnabas going from city to city preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. The reaction has been split with a large number believing, and a fair amount not only rejecting the message but seeking to do the missionaries physical harm. One place, in particular, was Lystra. Here, Paul encountered a lame man who had never walked. The Holy Spirit allowed Paul to discern that this man had evidence of belief, so he commanded him to stand. In witnessing this event the superstitious people of Lystra were convinced Paul and Barnabas were actually the gods, Zeus and Hermes, and began worshipping them.
After expending great energy to convince the crowd that they were mere mortals, a mob formed dragging Paul out in the street stoning him, and leaving him for dead. I'm sure you've had some hard days but for Paul and his team, that one is off the charts. The amazing part is that Paul picked himself off the ground and resumed his ministry. He could not be detoured, by anything or anyone. One of the ways that you can minimize the roller-coaster effect is to keep focused on Jesus, not on circumstances. It is important to guard your heart against getting too discouraged by the lows and too excited by the highs. God never allows anything to come into our lives by accident. Behind every circumstance we face is a greater purpose than we can see at the moment so when you get knocked down ask God for His help and then get back up!
Press on! Pastor Brian Richard