What ministry difficulty are you facing? Pastors are often reminded of the difficulty in ministry when the delight of ministry is forgotten.
By Drake Caudill
What difficulty are you currently facing in ministry?
Pastors plan their weekly calendars with ministry goals in mind. All the evenings spent taking notes during seminary or reading a book on ministry training create excitement for the ministry opportunities available. Perhaps discipleship for new believers or training for new ministry volunteers motivates the local church pastor.
But one email or phone call can change everything. A sudden difficulty can emerge and planned ministry goals are adjusted or forgotten. Difficulty in ministry is not biased. Everyone in ministry faces difficulties.
When overwhelmed by difficulty, pastors can face burnout, encounter physical pain, or experience family division. So why should pastors continue in ministry when difficulty abounds? Why should a young seminary student enter into ministry knowing difficulty is lurking around the corner? Pastors are often reminded of the difficulty in ministry when the delight of ministry is forgotten.
Difficulty turns to delight
Scripture doesn’t conceal the difficulty God’s people face. By faith, Moses faced difficulty and “chose to suffer with the people of God” (Hebrews 11:25a, CSB). The prophet Elijah experienced the difficulty of loneliness in ministry (1 Kings 19). A study of the book of Acts quickly reveals the early church’s difficulties.
In a song for the people of God to sing at the dedication of the house of the Lord, David records difficulties he experienced in Psalm 30. However, David’s difficulties turned to delight. And the psalm delivers a blueprint for turning ministry difficulty into ministry delight.
Reflect on your call
David begins Psalm 30 by reflecting on God’s mighty work in his life (vv. 1-3). “You have lifted me up,” he writes (Psalm 30:1, CSB).” He goes on to say, “You healed me” (Psalm 30:2, CSB) and “You spared me” (Psalm 30:3). These reflections bring to light David’s numerous enemies, health concerns, and near-death experiences. As David’s difficulty increased, evidence of God’s strength increased even more.Your increased ministry difficulties are no rival to God’s strength. — @drakecaudill Click To Tweet
Your increased ministry difficulties are no rival to God’s strength. In the middle of difficulty, reflect on God’s strength in your life. Ponder upon His deliverance from the grip of sin and how He saved you for His glory. Consider your calling into ministry. God did not make a mistake calling you into ministry. His sovereign purpose called you, and His mighty strength will keep you.
Acknowledge the difficulty of ministry
David did not hold back as he recounted the difficulty. And these difficulties caused David a variety of emotions—times of weeping (v. 5), feeling terrified (v. 7), and even calling for help (v. 8). Difficulties in ministry can cause a similar array of emotions. Ministry isn’t always smooth sailing. And sometimes it seems like an overwhelming surge of difficulty from every direction. Pastors may feel fear, anger, worry, and grief during difficult seasons.
Are you facing verbal attacks? Is the threat of division looming? Perhaps your family is experiencing turmoil. Whatever the difficulty you’re facing in ministry, consider David’s example in Psalm 30. He acknowledged the difficulty to God and found delight.God isn’t surprised when you acknowledge the difficulty you’re experiencing in ministry. But God is glorified when your confidence is in Him. — @drakecaudill Click To Tweet
No amount of difficulty you’re facing in ministry is too difficult for God. The overwhelming burden you’re carrying is not too heavy for Him. God isn’t surprised when you acknowledge the difficulty you’re experiencing in ministry. But God is glorified when your confidence is in Him.
God turns ministry difficulty into delight
David finished Psalm 30 by declaring, “You turned my lament into dancing” (v. 11). The lament David experienced didn’t last forever because God turned difficulty into delight. David’s delight was not in riches, success, or fame. But his delight was found in God alone.
The purpose of delighting in ministry is not so we can boast about revitalization methods, church growth strategies, or attendance numbers. God turns difficulty into delight in ministry so we can boast in God. David said God turned his sorrow into celebration “so that I can sing to you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You forever” (v. 12).
It can be tempting to focus on the difficulty and forget the delight in ministry. Ministry has seasons of difficult days, weeks, and perhaps years. Ministry also has joyful seasons of spiritual growth, life change, and even celebration. Neither your difficulties nor your successes define your ministry. God defines your ministry, and your delight in ministry begins with Him.Pastoral ministry is certainly not a walk in the park, but it is a walk with the Lord. — @drakecaudill Click To Tweet
We see David’s example in Psalm 30, but in Jesus we see an even clearer example. The author of Hebrews shows us the joy that was before Jesus writing, “For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, CSB). Jesus certainly faced difficulty on the road to the cross, but the delight that was before Him was greater than the difficulty.
Your path in ministry has been made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus. Pastoral ministry is certainly not a walk in the park, but it is a walk with the Lord. May your delight in ministry be found in Him.