I’m working and writing on the premise that God speaks best through me what He has been speaking in me. God has been prodding me onward and helping me wade through some of the tough stuff in every day ministry.
A missionary associate recently discussed with me an AIMer (short-term missionary) that had arrived on the field. He/she felt bewildered and blameworthy he/she wasn’t doing actual “ministry.” It’s a repetitive regular restlessness among those in kingdom business.
In 1999 I visited one of the executives in his office at World Evangelism Center. I asked if it were possible to do ministry in the midst of his administrative responsibilities. He pointed to a large stack of files and said, “Ministry, every time I want to do ministry, there is all this work staring at me.”
Lest we think this is a phenomenon isolated to World Evangelism Center, or AIMers on the mission field, I wonder how many pastors feel the same way. I recall, after marrying my wife, Linda, receiving a letter from her pastor-Dad. He wondered if he was truly making a difference in the small church he pastored and was close to giving up and throwing in the towel. Thankfully, he faithfully pressed on.
Regardless of the particular aspect of ministry one is involved in, it has its own share of unexciting, undesirable aspects and assignments. It’s inescapable! Sometimes ministry is reduced to a four letter word: “W-O-R-K!” And it is repeated day after day.
“And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff” (I Samuel 25:13).
Notice what a few other translations bring out:
- Stayed with the supplies (NKJV)
- Stayed with the equipment
- Stayed with the baggage (ESV, NASU, NASB)
Admittedly, there are a few things in my ministry and serving the Lord that feel a whole lot like baggage to me. But, every traveler knows the frustrations of arriving at one’s destination and baggage has been delayed or lost. This worsens when one forgets or ignores packing an extra set of clothes in the carryon. Guilty!
As I started to Google those words “staying by the…” here is what popped up.
- Staying on course
- Staying in the Word
All involving focus. Staying by the stuff (involves focus). Simple as that or should I state it is as hard as that. Maintaining focus is never easy. It requires deliberate determination.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13, New Living Translation).