Let’s face it: ministry is hard work. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t done much of it. Here are just a few of the challenges I can think of:
*Some are just not interested in God and flat out reject the gospel (and the messenger).
*Other endeavors become profitable as you succeed (business, for example). Ministry can be just the opposite—sometimes the more successful you are the more expensive it becomes (this is especially true of student ministry).
*The church/ministry is not immune from personality conflicts. This can be especially hurtful when it happens in a ministry context.
*Ministry doesn’t happen on a neat, convenient 9-5 schedule.
*Some of God’s children seem to think criticism is a spiritual gift (constructive criticism is necessary, but I’ve met people who criticize without an ounce of grace).
*Those who do God’s work are not immune from the normal challenges of life (sickness, family problems, etc).
What keeps people like me going? The power and presence of God!
But there’s something else that gives me great encouragement—celebrating victories. What is a “victory?” For me the answer is pretty simple: a victory is a changed life.
Paul was well aware of the hardships of ministry. But it seems he also knew how to celebrate victories—changed lives. Look at what he said about Timothy:
I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News.
Timothy was like a son to Paul. He was eventually entrusted with the task of pastoring the church at Ephesus. He was one of the major victories in his life and ministry–what a source of encouragement!
Are you discouraged in ministry? Maybe you have forgotten to celebrate your victories. Look through some pictures from the past few years and remember what God did. Read an old email from someone who thanked you. You’ll remember how God used you and receive great encouragement.
God is at work! Celebrate what He has done!
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