Sometimes ministry is like firing a cannon. You stand at a distance, choose targets, and fire strategic shots. But sometimes, ministry is like a knife fight in a crowd. Things get serious. There is a continuous onslaught of threats and challenges that require physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. It’s hand-to-hand combat.
For over 18 months, the baseline anxiety level in our society is higher than in “normal” times. A licensed counselor recently told me, “Emotions are just below the surface.” Typically, our feelings are set deeper. But in times of crisis, they’re much closer to the skin. They pop through at the smallest trigger. People are weary and they do crazy things when they’re stressed and tired.
Add to that, the devil is at play. An evil spirit of violent division grips our society. It seems people are driving with more aggression. Violent crime is up. Patience at the checkout line in the grocery store is non-existent.
For those who serve in ministry, it feels like a knife fight. Sometimes, like a fight gone bad. We’re on the front line of the lives of people, and life is messy right now.
The default is to retreat. “Can I get out?” “Am I old enough to retire yet?” But we know we’re called by God precisely for moments in history like this. Here are questions I ask myself when ministry feels like an alley brawl:
Will I stop trusting my own skill and rely entirely on God, who raises the dead? (II Cor. 1:8-9)
Will I be bold enough to call on God for any and everything? (John 15:13)
Am I willing to suffer hardship for my Lord’s name? (II Cor. 6:1-10)
Will I demonstrate the Spirit’s fruit not only in calm waters, but in the monsoon? (Gal. 5:22-25)
Will I dare to be vulnerable? To not go alone? To go at least in a pair, as the apostles of old? To see ministry as communal and not a solo effort? (Mark 6:7)
When I reach my limits, when I’m breathless, will I rest in Jesus? (Mark 6:31) Will I seek sabbath time in the arms of the Good Shepherd, tucked in the fold of his arm? (John 10:14-15)
In a knife fight, will I finally see that he was in control all along? Will I repent of any thought that it depended on me? (Rev. 1:17-18)
The struggle is not a reason to tap out. It’s when the King calls you to endure. Keep going. (Rev. 14:12)