We usually equate preparing people for ministry with training them to effectively accomplish the tasks involved in their area of service. While that is good and necessary, they should also be prepared for what they will face so they don’t go into ministry with unrealistic expectation, become disillusioned, discouraged, disgruntled, or quit.
The truth is that ministry will not always be easy or pleasant. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33). Nowhere do we read of ministry being the exception.
But, there are also other truths we must remember that make ministry, no matter how difficult or trying it may be, so worthwhile and possible to accomplish with peace and joy in our hearts. We have a Power Source to enable us to not only survive but thrive no matter what we face.
Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 16:33 begin with, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” Let’s follow the example of the Master Disciple-Maker who prepared His ministry workers by informing them of the harsh realities of serving. He also informed them of what they needed to remember in order to not lose heart in ministry — “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Kind of Troubles Ministry Workers Should Be Prepared to Face:
Be prepared to face obstacles.
Just because we are serving the Lord doesn’t mean all will go well. Sometimes ministry will be inconvenient. Sometimes it will stretch us, taking us outside of our comfort zones. Sometimes we will face limitations and what seems like a lack of resources. Sometimes we will serve people who don’t want to grow spiritually. While we should be prepared to face obstacles, we must also remember that we are not left to our own strength or wisdom to hurdle these roadblocks. Reflect on Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Be prepared to face conflict.
Just because we are serving with fellow believers doesn’t mean we will always agree or always work well with one another. We have different personalities, come from varying backgrounds, and approach tasks with personal styles. Combine human nature into that mix and there is bound to be conflict of some sort. While we should be prepared to face conflict, we must remember that though we can’t control the words and reactions of others, we can bring ourselves under the control of the Spirit. Reflect on Romans 12:18 — “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Be prepared to face temptations.
Just because we are in a Christian environment doesn’t mean we won’t encounter potential for doubts or breaks in integrity. We will be in plenty of situations where we could be tempted to lie, take short cuts, steal, brag, gossip, or even commit adultery with co-workers. While we will face temptations, we must remember that we don’t need to give in to flesh and the devil who is looking for someone to devour if we stay alert and keep submitting ourselves to the Lord in all situations (1 Pet. 5:8-11). Reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:13 — “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
We don’t always know what we will face in ministry so we need to prepare in ways we can. What we do know is that no matter what happens, our God is with us to guide, motivate, empower, and use us to make a difference. And, that makes it so worthwhile!