Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:1 (ESV)
Ministry is gloriously hard work. There are seasons when ministry is glorious and God's presence is evident. He is felt. He is active. Growth is seen on a myriad of fronts. It's in these times praise for kingdom work is easy.
There are also seasons when ministry hard. Our hearts, along with those we lead, are stubbornly foolish and even down right wicked. It's in those times that we, question our calling and start to lose heart.
The question is why? Why do we lose heart? Why does Paul have to include this verse? What's going on when we lose heart?
I tend to lose heart when:
- My ministry is focused more on my ability than His mercy. (2 Cor. 4:1)
- I bring disgrace to His kingdom by trying to build my own. (2 Cor. 4:2)
- I rely more on my cunning than on His truth. (2 Cor. 4:2)
- I underhandedly make my words more important than His. (2 Cor. 4:2)
- I tamper with His Word to make it say what I want it to say. (2 Cor. 4:2)
- I compare my ministry to someone else's.
- I compare my circumstances to someone else's.
- I don't rest.
- I don't equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12) and try to build His kingdom without His influence (... and by that I mean my kingdom).
- I'm using my current ministry as a stepping stone to something "better", forgetting to do the work of ministry where I'm at (2 Tim. 4:5).
Bottom line: My pride gets in the way of God's work.
How do I avoid this? Is that even possible? Better yet, because it is coming, how do I overcome it?
I overcome a loss of heart as I:
- Renounce my disgraceful, underhandedness and cunning and turn back to truth of His Word (2 Cor. 4:2).
- Refuse to rely on my knowledge (2 Cor. 4:2) and preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).
- Quit tampering with God's Word in an effort to be clever and value His truth over my skill (2 Cor. 4:2).
Bottom line: I get myself out of the way and let God do what only He can do. I say what His Word says, the way it says, and help people to see how it applies to their lives.
I have a tendency to get discouraged and lose heart, especially when things don't work out the way I thought they would. What I have to constantly remind myself of is that God's plans are always bigger and better than mine; and He is the one who supplies the strength to accomplish them, not me.
My prayer is that is that I repent more freely and trust more readily. This is my prayer for you as well.