I remember a recent conversation I had over dinner with a fellow minister. It seemed to me this person had been inundated with uncertainty about the future of their ministry. Like all ministries experience at one time or another, there had been some major hurt and despair in this minister’s recent past.
It is natural to have trouble accepting hurt, especially from others in the body of Christ, when we step into the office God plants us in. It may be difficult to recover when someone we know or care about has doubted what we are doing for the Lord; maybe it is a close friend or family member who knows our past mistakes, and tries to use it against us. Like the minister’s story above, the easy way out may begin to manifest in our hearts, we may make harsh decisions, doubt God has called us in the first place, or most drastically, even leave the ministry altogether.
But Jesus encourages us in His Word when He sought to prepare us for the most difficult times we face in our ministries. He tells His disciples in Luke 21:12-19 to expect persecution when it comes.
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you…”
Jesus does not warn us of persecution to scare us out of ministries, for that would be counterproductive of His purpose for calling us; instead, Jesus showed us, and modeled in His own life, how we handle persecution, even when it comes from other Christians we trusted.
“But there shall not a hair of your head perish. In your patience, possess ye your souls.”
As those called to serve in whatever ministry it may be, we have a responsibility, and duty to God to persevere through the trials, and believe me when I say there will be many trials, and persecution we are bound to face doing service for the Lord.
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them…”
Instead of viewing times when the Enemy attacks us with circumstances, other people, and mistakes from our own pasts as an excuse to cower down, and make rash decisions that may harm or destroy what you are doing for the Lord, try asking the Lord for clarity and guidance. Ask God to help you understand what truly lies beyond the persecution, and allow Him to help you get past the hurt, and prepare you for your next trial; there will be plenty of other times for God to strengthen you and give you more boldness when Satan tries to throw discouragement and despair in your path; only next time, you will not desire to throw away the hard work God has helped you sow in your ministry, but you will stand up boldly, look directly in the face of your circumstance, and say, “I am ready Lord, to face whatever I must, as long as you are beside me!”