I have been spending time every day in a book called the Minister’s Prayer Book by John W. Doberstein. This week, I came across this wonderful quote by Friedrich Zündel (1827–1891) under the titled “To a Discouraged Minister.” There is so much truth here:
“When difficulties pile up before you like insurmountable mountains… When behind you, you see nothing but failures. When before you, you see nothing but trouble . . .
1. Do what is at hand to do. Consider each single day to be your appointed task. Leave to God the care of the future.
2. Don’t desire to harvest. You are only a sower.
3. Remember that on the island of Nias the missionaries prayed for 25 years for an awakening.
4. If you can be comfort and strength to even one single person, then even fifty years of no success have not been in vain.
5. It is no help to an unrepentant person for you to be annoyed with him (or her). What he (or she) needs is seeking love.
6. Even for Paul, the “thorn in the flesh” remained. His grace is sufficient . . .
7. Christ can fight his battles even with broken swords.
8. It is not ability but faithfulness that counts (I Corinthians 4:2).
He dared to believe his way through the deepest gloom.”
I find these thoughts so encouraging. Let me interpret them with my own list, not coinciding with the above list, but my thoughts as I read them.
1. I see that pastor have always have difficulties ad down times. It is not new and it is never going away.
2. I think the emphasis of daily sowing is so valuable. What can I do today to plant seeds for the Kingdom? This is why I emphasize organizing for ministry so much in my life. I want to be sure and get the right things done.
3. There is always the temptation in ministry to focus on the harvest. We desire bigger numbers, fuller pews, and expanded budgets. These are worldly success, but not by God’s definition.
4. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, and often sowing comes decades before reaping. You have to take a long-run perspective.
5. Having an impact on one person is significant. I also think that we need to learn how to celebrate our wins better. Enjoy the moments where your ministry has a visible impact. Sometimes those moments are sparse.
6. You can’t get frustrated or annoyed with people. It would be great if everyone was perfect, but we know that sin does not spare anyone. We are in the broken people business.
7. Those people, conversations, or issues that bug you don’t go away. When they do, another one is surely around the corner. Trust in God’s grace, not how you feel in the moment.
8. Even if you feel broken, God can use you. The great men and women of the Bible, and history for that matter, are often the most flawed.
9. Faithfulness is more important than skill or effort. You don’t have to be the best or work the hardest, in fact, sometimes those things get in the way. Just be faithful. Listen to God’s voice and obey.
I love that line tagged on the very end in the devotional. Friedrich Zündel says, “He dared to believe his way through the deepest gloom.” May that be said of you in ministry.