The Seasons of Ministry
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- Version: NKJV
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Encouragement To All Who Serve In Ministry (II Timothy 4:7)
Who knows the ups and downs of the ministry better than another minister? Ministers and all who would be leaders in the Lord’s vineyard are often discussed and made the topic of conversation. Like all professions, none understand a profession better than one who has been a part of that profession.
Who understands playing professional basketball other than another fellow professional basketball player? Who would know the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in football other than another professional football player? The list goes on and on. The fact is, no other would really understand the rigors of ministry other than another fellow academician of The Gospel. Those who preach should understand the serious responsibility of the calling. This writing is a tribute to Gospel preachers, hoping that those who follow and those who would lead understand the responsibility and the weight that Ministers have.
We salute the families who stand by them, and leaders who work alongside them. To be successful and reach spiritual heights dreamed, the Minister must have a cooperative, service-minded church that works with him. What many congregations do not understand, is that their cooperative spirit encourages the man of God more than they know. The minister serves the church, so that the church can serve others. We all serve one another and as a result, the body grows, and unity is increased (Ephesians 4:16).
Ministry, Like Life, Has Seasons ‘Springtime & Winter’
Ministry in the springtime is the season when a minister is full of energy, optimism, and vitality. He may move through a city or town like a young gospel prince and the Lord blesses the effort and sees that it is good. This is a time when others who are older witness the man of God in the springtime and smile. They not only see themselves and remember the time; they also see a bright future for the Lord’s Church. They are encouraged by a new crop of springtime preachers who would help guide God’s shepherded flock. Assuming the minister is successful during this time, he will no doubt have claimed souls for Jesus and helped transform lives by his example and Godly influence.
These souls will become his life’s joy, just as The Philippians were the Apostle Paul’s joy many years earlier. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). This work will become a driving force as he guides generations into the arms of Christ. Something should be said of giving your life to God in the springtime, not waiting until the winter of life to serve the Lord.
Ministry In The Wintertime
This time in a minister’s life would seem to indicate that one has more days behind them than in front of them. These are the days where you feel your departure is at hand. You have, as Paul said in his last days, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7). In II Timothy, Paul seems to know what season he is in. He was imprisoned in Rome and his departure from this world was near. He speaks then of what he had done and not what we will do. He said, “I have fought … I have finished … I have kept.”
Similarly, Moses’ prayer recognizes our days are limited and requests wisdom to know how to live each day intentionally (Psalm 90:10). Recognizing your season enables you to intentionally use each moment you have left on this earth.
What better time for every Christian to use their talent, energy, ability, focus and drive than in the springtime of life? In this way, there is more time for one’s ministry calling to overflow. The overflow touches others over the course of a life. In reference to the ministry, the good minister will watch out for peddlers with new Ideas and New Age thinking—dangerous wolves (some in the church) who would steer the flock away from the Good Shepherd who feeds His lambs (Acts 20:29-30). There are many lessons to learn in ministry. There are many joys and accomplishments obtained from a life spent in service to God. However, there are also many tribulations that come into the life of a servant of God. There will be sacrifice, sorrows, suffering and sleepless nights. There will be sighs, silence, sidesteps and sabotage. However, the Lord will bless the effort and see that it is good. There are also many successes to be had as well, like souls saved, soaring spirits, safety from Satan, strength for service and support for our self-esteem.
There Can Be No Success Without Sacrifice
There are many people today, in a world of social media stars and internet sensations, who increasingly want success without the sacrifice. We must know that everything we receive in life will cost us something. This is one of the reasons why we should love the Lord, because He made an investment in us. He poured abundant life in us, to heal us, that we might go further and higher in life. Yes, we owe God the praise.
Prayer should be offered for all who have ministered, those who are ministering and all who will count the cost to minister for the Lord. Faithful ministers should be appreciated for their many acts of service. They should be thanked for marrying the wed and burying the dead. Thank them for breaking up fights and mediating disputes and helping solve problems. Thank them for loving the unloving, for going to hospitals, ministering to the sick, committing the body to the ground. Thank faithful servants of the Lord for not being arrested, for not being in a scandal, for being men of integrity, for holding their head up and not apologizing for preaching the truth in love. We should honor them for what they stand for. Nobody knows but God, how much it cost them to be who they are.
Thank ministers who sacrifice their time helping other parents’ children, at the expense of being away from their own. Did you know, the minister encourages other people while they may secretly be discouraged? To be a good soldier and servant, you must be faithful even when you are operating in the red. Honor men of God who sacrifice their family and arrange their schedule around the church family schedule. Week after week, year after year, ministers and leaders are working to advance the cause of Christ, while working out their own soul salvation.
You have no idea what it costs them to be who they are; but they are faithful at the expense of operating in the red. Do not let the well-prepared clothes, the shined shoes, dignified speech, knowledge of scripture and calm patient demeanor fool you.
May They Use What God Gave Them
From springtime to wintertime of life, they use all God has given them to fight the good fight of faith. There have been times when they have been knocked down to their knees, but managed to stand and preach. They have faced hard times and disappointments, but kicked back against the enemy, holding on to God’s unchanging hand. Let this writing stand to honor all preachers of the The Gospel of Christ—past, present, and future.
Minister’s wives also play a big part to complement their husband's leadership with their own servant’s heart and exemplary prayer life. Should they have a family, may they and their families be blessed in the highest. May their cups overflow to bless the lives of others who are blessed to know them.
May all Churches of Christ continue to be a bulwark of faith, planting seeds that will sprout branches with deep roots. Roots that stretch out and touch every part of their community. So that another generation will rise and ask questions about the stones they have left. Stones that inform them that they stood their watch (Joshua 4:21). It cannot be stated better than Isaiah said: “How beautiful … are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7)!
Let this writing serve to all who read it as a thank you, a written bouquet to all of God’s men, the minister. In the words of Apostle Paul (wintertime), to young Evangelist Timothy (springtime), “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (II Timothy 4:2).
– James Apollos Maxwell