Lack of visible results.
Weariness from overwork.
Feelings of inadequacy.
These are among the factors that siphon off joy and motivation in ministry. What follows are four Bible truths that instill resiliency in me. I don’t offer these as panaceas for the difficulties of ministry, but as means of sustenance, perspectives that enable me to keep going when I don’t feel like it.
You already know each of these truths. But when we’re disheartened, it’s easy to forget their applicability to our situation. Memorization of the verses I will cite has provided fuel for God’s Spirit to encourage me when the needy moment arises.
1. God promises His presence.
That the Lord is always with all His people is a simple, clear, precious teaching of the Bible (Isa. 41:10; Heb. 13:5). But the recipients of this promise were often persons heavily engaged in redemptive work. He told Jeremiah not to fear foes because He’d be with him (Jer. 1:8). Jesus’ pledge of His ongoing presence came packaged with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). The Holy Spirit’s endless companionship was promised to core followers who would spread the gospel after Jesus’ physical departure (John 14:16).
If we don’t feel His presence or we go days without consciousness of it, that doesn’t negate the reality of it. His Word that pledges His presence is far more reliable than our feelings.
2. God pledges eternal dividends for faithful fulfillment of our tasks.
We don’t always see these promised results, but we can trust His Word. According to 1 Corinthians 15:58, dividends are as sure as the resurrection promise that precedes this verse: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
The “you reap what you sow” principle in Galatians 6:7-9 connects to ministry, for Paul applied it to church members so they wouldn’t lose heart in doing good (vs. 9). He insisted that those who “sow to the Spirit” would reap a harvest (vs. 8).
3. God doesn’t forget our sacrificial service to His people.
Though other people often fail to appreciate or to recognize our labor, when it comes to our efforts, God has a keen memory: “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Heb. 6:10).
This promise applies to our past as well as present labor. And it suggests that diligent service to others is a way that we express love to God Himself.
4. Our confidence when communicating Scripture is in the inherent power of the Bible itself.
When we feel inferior to another teacher we’ve observed, or doubt the outcomes of our teaching because of personal frailties, let’s remember: the primary factor for effective teaching isn’t our giftedness, experience, personality, or educational background. Our basis for confidence should be what Scripture says about itself.
When He contrasted His words with those of false prophets, God exclaimed “Is not My Word like fire…and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” Hebrews 4:12 asserts, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Also see 1 Thessalonians 2:13 and 2 Timothy 2:9 for references to the efficacy of God’s Word.)
What other Bible truths or texts have buoyed your spirit in relation to ministry?
Terry wrote Serve Strong: Biblical Encouragement to Sustain God’s Servants, to explain and illustrate Bible truths that have sustained him for 45 years of vocational ministry. In the book, Terry expands the points in this post and adds insights on failure, brokenness, delays, spiritual warfare, the basis for personal identity, and much more. James I. Packer calls Serve Strong a “potent antibiotic for the Christian worker’s struggling soul.” Use this link to get a copy: