Finding a Better Way in Ministry, Part 1

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MINISTRY: Recently I found myself in a conflux of emotions. Too many things demanded my time, and I ran myself ragged: ministering very late into evening, trying to get up early and have a meaningful time with God, taking care of my wife and my children, responding to people from various local churches.

My Life Became a Blur

Drained and grumpy yet happy, and encouraged – this described my state. However, I sensed my life becoming a blur. I could not remember what day of the week it was or even what was on the agenda for the next couple of days.

Then I thought of life of Samuel who began ministry as a child and became Israel’s greatest judge. 1 Samuel 7 is the pinnacle of Israel’s greatest moment under his direction.  The Israelites had peace from their archenemies the Philistines and neighboring nations too because of how he feared God.

But in chapter 8, Samuel can no longer carry out his itinerant ministry of judging due to his body weakening under the weight of his schedule. Commentaries describe him as a man in his fifties, but who had the body of a man in his eighties. In order to continue to fulfill his ministry duties as Israel’s judge he makes a bad decision. He places his sons in the position of judges, which only God had the authority to appoint. The Israelites use Samuel’s bad choice to demand a king to rule over them, which Samuel took personally.

The Example of Bob Pierce

World Vision founder Bob Pierce is a modern day “Samuel.” He started World Vision and ministered mainly in the Far East in the 1950s, focusing on poor children’s need for food and clean water. He is quoted as saying, “I’ve made an agreement with God that I’ll take care of His helpless little lambs overseas, if He’ll take care of mine at home.”

He believed God would honor this based on Luke14:26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Believing God would honor his agreement he was able to justify years of family neglect all for the sake of the Lord.

On one occasion his daughter Sharon telephoned him overseas desperately wanting to see him due to depression, but he had already scheduled meetings in Vietnam and decided to attend those meetings rather than attend to his daughter’s plea to see him. She unsuccessfully attempted suicide and relating to her mother why she tried she said that all she wanted was to feel her Daddy’s arms around her. In 1968 she attempted suicide again and this time was successful. The Pierce family disintegrated into bitterness, even Bob. He died in 1978. Read more of his story in Christianity Today.

A New Path

Even though my life was far from becoming like that of Samuel’s and Bob Pierce’s, I don’t want to follow in their steps. I believe that all the good that they did they were grieved by their choices they made.

I ask you to look forward to my upcoming articles on what I learned about balance in ministry to help you care for the hurting at your church and in your neighborhood – and be joy-filled. You can reorient your thoughts to what a balanced ministry looks like and discover how God, through your willingness, will achieve it in your life.

Did you know BCC offers discreet counseling to pastors and their wives? Contact us today. Get the help you need.

photo credit: FutUndBeidl via photopin cc
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