I have an on-again, off-again relationship with motorcycles. When I first got my license, the toughest part of the riding exam for me was the tight turn in the maneuverability portion of the test.
At a slow speed, you have to turn the bike 180 degrees inside of a box that feels like it’s about six feet wide without putting your feet down. (OK, so the box is actually 20 feet wide, but it feels really small.)
There’s a secret to this maneuver that sounds simpler than it is in practice. Look where you want to go. My instinct, like most novice riders, as I’m feeling all wonky and out of balance, was to train my gaze on the asphalt in front of my front tire. That’s a recipe to lose your orientation and then your balance. The secret is to turn your head all the way around and pick a spot 50 feet behind you where you want to go. Crank the handlebars, trust the bike, and keep your gaze fixed where you want to be.
By now, I hope the object lesson is obvious. 😊
Ministry is hard.
Jesus acknowledged it many times. Here are a few:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
It’s part of the gig.
But it doesn’t have to be our focus.
Each of these quotes addresses the dual nature of ministry. Jesus alludes to stuff that will be no fun, but the Lord’s blessing is never far away. It is simultaneously true that ministry is hard and God is good. Both realities are always present, and we can focus on either thing.
Melissa and I are coming off a couple of particularly challenging weeks in our ministry. The enemy has been busy, busy, busy, in some of the most overt ways. Those quotes from Jesus ought to paint the picture. We could certainly use your prayers, your blessings, and your encouragement right now.
In the midst of it all, we can focus on the challenges right in front of us, lose our orientation, and succumb to the enemy. We can carry an attitude of “ministry is hard.” Or we can raise our eyes to Jesus, look where we want to go, and trust.
It’s a choice that we get to make. Even when it’s hard, it’s still our choice.
God is doing a good thing. And He wins. Always. These words are always true.
If you are a Christian, you are in ministry. Whatever that looks like for you, you will face trials, hardships, and attacks of the enemy. However, you don’t have to live in that space of “ministry is hard,” even though it’s part of the guarantee. We can take solace that God knows our suffering, then we can turn our eyes fully to Him, in adoration of His presence, in anticipation of the peace and blessing He’s promised.
As the apostle Paul told his protégé, Timothy, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
Stand strong in the faith. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
No matter what you’re feeling about your ministry, remember: God is doing a good thing. And He wins. Always.