Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In over our heads

One of the frightening things about bivocational ministry is how often we feel like we are inadequate for the tasks of the day.  Even in a smaller congregation there will be times when we feel overwhelmed and underqualified.  A young couple may come to us seeking advice on how they can avoid divorce.  Another person may ask to meet with us to find out how he or she can believe that their mistakes from a decade ago have truly been forgiven by God.  A respected businessperson may share with us how close he or she is to bankruptcy.  A family may ask us to meet with their alcoholic son who is in jail on another DUI charge.  There are those times when Sunday is drawing near and our spiritual wells are dry and we have no idea what our sermon will be.  We lay down at night unable to sleep wondering how we can minister to these various needs, and many others, when we honestly don't know what to do to help any of these folks.  We may even wonder what made us think we could do this anyway.

The older I get the more I appreciate Moses.  Think of the impossible task he was given.  God directed him to convince Pharoah to let the Israelite slaves leave Egypt and then he was to lead them to the Promised Land.  There may have been in excess of one million people in this journey, and you think your church of 50 are a problem!  It's no wonder Moses resisted God's call on his life.  He did everything he could to convince God he was not adequate for this responsibility, but God countered Moses' every argument by assuring him that He would be with him in the process.  It has become a cliche in recent years, but Moses learned what you and I need to remember: God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called.

If we try to do the ministry God has given us through our own resources we will often find ourselves in over our heads.  God has given each of us gifts through which we are to do ministry, and there are things we can do to sharpen those gifts.  We can pursue an education and learn some things about ministry, but I can assure you that in pastoral ministry you'll encounter things seminary never prepared you for.  We can read books and attend seminars on various ministry-related issues to help learn some new ways to minister to various issues.  We should do all those things, but we will still encounter challenges that nothing has prepared us to face.  The good news is that nothing we encounter is greater than God's ability to address.

Spending time on our knees and in the study of the Scriptures is absolutely essential to a successful ministry.  The ability to hear the still, small voice of God can sometimes make the difference in our being able to help someone or not.  We may not know what to do, but God always knows the right answer to every situation we face.  Nothing is more exciting than to be talking with someone about a major challenge in their lives and hearing ourselves suggest something we had never thought of before.  Later, we may wonder where that came from until we realize that is came from the Holy Spirit ministering through us to that person.  It is in those times that ministry becomes the most exciting and rewarding.

When you find yourself in over your head in ministry-related challenges, don't fret or begin to question your call to ministry.  Let those times drive you to your knees and seek the solution there.  God will provide the answers you need to best serve those He has called you to lead.

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