Monday, April 13, 2015

Ministry Pressure

And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:28

Cue Billy Joel singing "Pressure". Ministry has its share. Paul isn't whining about it. He was a strong leader and he knew that with the gospel's advance, pressure and anxiety came to leaders. In our therapeutic wimpiness these days, we would see pressure and difficulty as something to avoid. Paul saw it as a necessary sacrifice for the greater vision of the gospel's advance into the world. Ministry is hard work. There is no way around that truth. And with each person that comes to Christ, a new relationship for disciplemakers and church leaders is added. Leaders live under that pressure. We are responsible to each disciple. We are under fire from opponents of the gospel. It isn't easy, but often the very best things in life are hard and are worth the blood shed and the tears that accompany the pain.

Twenty-first century Christians in America seem to think that the promise of the gospel is an easy life. We have made a syrupy mess of the gospel, stirring it up with the American Dream and self-help feel good nonsense. I have no other way to explain the wild rise of prosperity theology or the bland commercial success of the saccharine Joel Osteen. It hardly fits the matter-of-fact list of sufferings and manly sacrifice described by Paul. We are weak. God help us, but we may be operating under a false gospel if it is so doggone easy!

I conclude that ministry pressure with accompanying sleepless nights upon occassion is good for me. It puts me squarely in the experience of the Apostle Paul. It tells me God is with me, because I can't do it by myself. I am inadequate... praise the Lord! It forces me to bring questions and problems to my Lord. Anxiety is a good sign, for it forces me to my knees to cast my anxieties upon God, Whose peace will surpass my understanding and guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

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