Do you find it a struggle to maintain your motivation in ministering for the Lord? Do you listen and watch the thoughts and actions of the opposition and get discouraged and want to give up? Nehemiah was confronted with opposition and knows first hand what it feels like. Yet he used it to fuel his determination to finish what God called him to do.
"They were just trying to intimidate us; imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination."
Opposition is a sign that you are doing something right for God. Anything that is worth while in building the Kingdom of God will draw opposition. It is easy to listen to the enemy and start believing the lies he is saying to you. He wants you defeated. His only aim is to bring you down and to stop any advancement. One way the enemy tries to do this is by using people, even Christians, to speak their opinions about the work you are doing. They may or may not even realize how their words can bring discouragement.
We have to count the cost of working for the Lord in advance. When the enemy brings up "stuff" to stop the work, you will be ready and able to withstand any intimidation that comes your way.
Cost of ministry
We need to spend a huge amount of time in prayer. Develop your secret place with God. What you receive during this time will help you when opposition comes. Also, what you receive during this time will flow out of you when it is time to minister. Ministering out of your love relationship with God makes ministry so much easier.
It will take time to develop relationships with people you minister to. If you are a pastor of a church it behooves you to get to know your sheep. Spend time with them. This will help the people to trust you and to know you will be there for them.
It will take time for you to prepare your materials for teaching/preaching. It will take time away from your family. Knowing this, you need to plan ahead special time with your family. You don't want to raise children thinking that ministry is more important then they are. Remember your priorities: God first, Spouse next, Children, and then ministry.
2. Personal comfort
Often times you will be needed to do something in ministry and it costs you your personal comfort: Your friends are getting together for coffee or dinner but you need to work on your sermon for Sunday. You are awakened in the middle of the night with a phone call asking you to come to the Hospital as one of your member's relatives was in a car accident. You have to remind yourself that God sees all that you do for Him. It is not about your comfort at that time, it is about your availability.
2 Corinthians 4:8
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair."
In ministry you will experience opposition and this can bring personal stress and discomfort. Paul said it well, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." (Heb 12:2-3 KJV)
King David learned to strengthen himself in the Lord when David's own people were against him and threaten to kill him.
1Samuel 30:6 KJV
"And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."
There will be times when we are the only one to encourage ourselves. We have to learn this strategic weapon and have it ready. If we rely on others for encouragement we will be defeated. Get the Word of God hidden deep within you so you can lean on it in times of trouble.
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
3. Approval of man or God?
In ministering to people we have to have keep our focus. We can't afford the luxury of pleasing people! There will always be someone who doesn't like what you are doing no matter how hard you try. Knowing this, our aim should always be to please God and not man. Get over the thought of wanting to be liked by everybody. Yes, we need to encourage, uplift, and minister to people, but don't let them manipulate you. People can be your handicap if you are worried about what they think of you.
"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
If we choose to please people then we are a servant to people. If we choose to please Christ, then we are a servant to Christ. Which one do you prefer?
Rejection is a natural experience in ministry. People rejected Jesus and He was the Son of God. We are ministers of His Gospel. We will be rejected.
"They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you, declares the Lord."
I have experienced personally close friends rejecting me. At first it handicapped my thinking and wounded me severally. Then, I realized how my dwelling on it affected my ministry. I was concerned that others would do the same and I started to pull away from people. Someone showed this to me and God showed me I took on an offense. Jesus was never offended. He never put his trust in man, but in God alone. People will turn on you and let you down. Keep your focus on the One who was despised and rejected for us. He always accepts us and never rejects us.
I have learned when I feel rejected by man I run to Jesus in my prayer time. I cry out all my hurts and frustrations. He listens. There is healing in sharing our hurts with God. He is bigger than anything we are going through. He comforts in ways no one else can. Allow God to love on you so you can let go of any hurts. Remember, "Hurting people hurt people!" We don't want to be hurting others because of our rejection. Quickly get rid of the offense in your heart or it will be like a cancer that will eat you up and destroy your ministry and effectiveness.
If you could go into any other field of work instead of ministry, I encourage you to do so. You have to know that you know you are called to be a minister of the Gospel. If you can't do anything else and you go crazy working at a regular job, this is a sign that you may be called. I say all this because often times you don't get paid for your efforts. You may have the opportunity to volunteer at a church or organization. You have to remember that God keeps the books. He knows what you need financially. He knows your heart and the effort you are making to build the Kingdom of God. He may open up an opportunity to work a secular job and volunteer as a pastor part-time. Keep your motives in check. Why are you in the ministry? For money (You picked the wrong field if that is the case)? For recognition? For lost souls? For people to be transformed by the power of God? Trust God to provide for your every need. It is amazing how God provides.
After counting the cost, prayerfully begin the work of the Lord. Remember that opposition will come. Don't be intimidated! Stand strong in the calling of God on your life. Know that you are an overcomer. Be determined to never bolt, but to work even harder to complete what you have started. Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go! (Joshua 1:9)
Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Kris Belfils
Kris Belfils is an Author, Pastor, Singer/Songwriter, Speaker, and Worship Leader. She has a passion to see people transformed and set free. Her newest book, "The Garbage Man Always Comes On Fridays," is a powerful tool to help others overcome their past. www.krisbelfils.com
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