People work is difficult. People will hurt you and forget you and desert you. Sometimes the people who do this will be the very ones you’ve served most in ministry.
If you commit to a life of ministry, you must be ready to be taken for granted, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and even taken advantage of.
There will be times when you will invest hours of ministry into people who barely show appreciation. And there will always be takers who feel you should be giving more of your time to them. Some of them are bold enough to tell you.
I’ve known all of these experiences many times in 30 years of pastoral work. But I also know how important it is to look to my Savior who was despised and rejected by man for me and for my sins.
Before you lose heart or lose perspective, turn your focus to Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Reflect deeply on these words,
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
It’s particularly interesting to me that just before these words we read, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said…” (Hebrews 13:5). For some reason, my ministry has often placed me among wealthy people. I’ve had to learn to guard my heart and follow the words of Hebrews 13:5.
When you’re trying to figure out how to make ends meet and prepare for future expenses on limited means, it can be a kind of trial to minster to those who have significant wealth. They often don’t understanding how you must live and you might feel a stronger temptation to feel unappreciated. When you’re ministering to people who could do very generous and helpful things to show their appreciation, you must resist the temptation to lose focus on why you serve and whom you serve (see: Galatians 1:10).
If you don’t guard your heart you might even become resentful in ways that lead to discontentment with your own financial circumstances.
I am grateful to God for the grace He has given to me to not allow wealth or the lack of it to effect my commitment to minister to others. But I admit that the challenges are real. The other side to this is a temptation to allow what others do for you (or, could do for you) to control ministry choices. Either way, remind yourself of this command with a promise:
“”Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).”
When facing people problems and disappointments in ministry, I am instructed by the depth of transparency and maturity in the last words from the apostle Paul,
“Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (II Timothy 4:14-18).
May God give you sufficient grace to find your sufficiency in Him!