I left the building frustrated. To be honest, I could have been at the point of tears. It wasn’t anybody or anything done to me. It was the sermon. I preached part two of a sermon I had begun the week before. That week the lesson had really affected a lot of people, I was riding high. The week that followed I studied harder, spend more time preparing, put together a handout/outline, had a good powerpoint presentation, worked the LIST, and felt good. But the sermon fell flat. It just wasn’t there. I felt it early and it didn’t go away. Either I had too much material and rushed or I didn’t think I explained the text well, or maybe it was just the really cold weather or the time of year. Regardless, it was. It is Sunday’s like those that in my younger days I would have thought, I’m not cut out for this. Now, I just chalk it up to the reality that we all have bad days, and the I am still learning, and that if i do this 100 years I will still be figuring this out. I take comfort in the knowledge that the best preachers I know have days like that too. I take greater comfort in that, while I should always strive to do my very best, God doesn’t require me to be good, just faithful, true, loving and a man striving for high integrity. When we write these I often wonder what kind of day the guys reading it have had. I feel certain some of you had a difficult day brought on by various reasons. Some of you no doubt had a day that made you question or want to quit. In a group of this size some of you either resigned or were asked to leave. Some of you or your family are dealing with health issues that are distracting or threatening. Some of you had very bad days. And some of you had really good days and reasons to soar. I want to remind you, God’s love is for you too. He calls you to faith and faithfulness not to perfection and He certainly understands and cares in your difficult moments. We serve a good God. Don’t quit.
As you know there are events that happen, circumstances that come our way, and situations that arise over which we have no control. We can’t keep someone we love from getting sick. When someone passes away, we don’t have the privilege of saying we are too busy to help with a funeral. We have no control over the way people act, how they respond to a sermon, or the way they handle life. We can’t stop our car from breaking down at the most inopportune time. It is impossible for us to have complete control over our own schedule. Sometimes life happens and at times it doesn’t happen the way we want it to happen.
What do we do when life happens?
Prepare for the unexpected through prayer. Some of the circumstances mentioned above hit us when we aren’t quite ready. It will help us if in our prayers we ask God to give us wisdom and grace to react in a way that pleases Him when life happens.
Work on building some flexibility into your life. Learn to roll with the punches. When we come to the realization that we can’t control everything it will help us deal with the unexpected. The more we understand that interruptions are a part of life, the better off we will be.
Do everything possible to keep the decisions and choices of people from ruling your thought life. When we come to understand that we can’t control what people do or say, our life will be much more fulfilling.
Spend some time with people who love you and will allow you to be yourself. We all need someone or some one’s who will allow us to vent and let our hair down when it is necessary.
When life happens, don’t allow it to make you bitter. Do whatever you need to do to help it make you better.
I’ve lived way too much of my life in a rush: From one appointment, adventure, problem, project, sermon, service, pulpit, place, joy, job to the next. I remember in 1996 reading the words from Eugene Patterson’s article written in 1981: “The one piece of mail certain to go unread into my wastebasket is the one addressed ‘to the busy pastor.’ Not that the phrase doesn't describe me at times, but I refuse to give my attention to someone who encourages what is worst in me.” Of course, I am not a pastor, but his words stung and still sting me as a minister.
One of the primary mistakes I see ministers make is leaving a congregation too soon. It takes time to develop truth and relationships. It takes time to learn what the specific needs of a congregation are. It takes time for people to get used to your style (at least it does for people to adjust to mine). It takes time to build the credibility and influence to sway peoples’ opinions. It takes time for you to adjust to the “way things are done” that comprise the idiosyncrasies innate in every congregation. It takes time for you to learn the personalities of leaders. Don’t give up too soon, don’t quit too soon, remember that some of the best things come with patience. God may have you there even if it seems to be a very difficult place to be. Don’t quit to quickly.
During this season of Thanksgiving, there are many reasons to be thankful. Of course, we should always give thanks to God for the numerous physical blessings He showers upon us. May we never forget that every good gift is possible because of Him and is provided by Him. We are thankful for the blessing of family. If we are allowed to sit and enjoy meals, games, & fellowship with friends or family this week, we are richly blessed.
On top of these, we have numerous spiritual blessings for which we can be thankful. One of the richest aspects of these spiritual blessings is our association with preachers of the Word of God around the world. When we thank our God during this season you dear brothers who are our comrades in arms will be a significant part of our gratitude. We are thankful for preachers for numerous reasons. Here are just a few.
Thank you for your commitment to preaching the entire council of God.
Thank you for the numerous hours you spend in study and preparation.
Thank you for the time you spend in prayer about your preaching.
Thank you for the sacrifices you make to preach the Word and to minister to others. We know that there are financial sacrifices, family sacrifices, and personal sacrifices that each of you make. Please know that they do not go unnoticed.
Thank you for the numerous visits you make to encourage those who are sick, weak, alone, and aging. Thank you for the Bible studies you conduct, the meetings you attend, and the ministries you support.
Thank you for giving your heart, your time, and your life to the Lord as well as to His people. Thank you for caring for people, for sharing the Word, for loving the Lord, and for supporting all that is good.
Thank you for being God’s man. Please know that you are dearly loved and deeply appreciated. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving season.
It’s called Facebook stalking. Go ahead, admit it. You’ve done it too. It was his birthday and I wished him a happy one and then started scrolling through. There was an event where he preached trying to gather food for the hungry. They challenged everyone to bring some food and called it “knock ____ off the pulpit!” There was a post with some children and him all hugged up with them, down on their level. There was a VBS attendance goal and him getting a pie in the face. There was a picture of him all grinning, posed for a snap with a bunch of folks of different color, different from him. Most of his posts were not about him, unless someone else had tagged him in a post, most were about activities coming up or being commended surrounding the church and good works. it occurred to me as I scrolled, his life is rich, full, involved, and messy. To be involved in ministry is sometimes messy. It requires you get out, get connected, get tangled in people’s lives. It was his birthday and, I bet, he could have been you. Thank you for living your life out for Him, through ministry into the lives of others. Don’t quit, you bring, hope, joy, peace, fun, growth, connection, and godliness to the forefront. Most of us see the impact of others much more than that of our own. More than you realize you are making an impact for good, for God, and you are needed.
Preaching the Word of God every week for years can be a daunting task. Add to that the day to day work associated with preaching and ministering among a group of God’s people, then you have a recipe for discouragement, difficult days, or even burnout.
During different seasons of my life, when the work has seemed somewhat overwhelming, I have found relief and rest in varying ways. At times, it has seemed to help to get away, disconnect for a short time, or just take a break. These times have been best when spent with my wife, children, particularly grandchildren in the past few years, and/or close, close friends.
At other times, when feelings of discouragement or even depression have enveloped me, it has helped to engage with others. Serving others and involving ourselves in the lives of others, can potentially help us get out of our difficulties and challenges.
Every one of us are different and we cope with stress in different ways. As I mentioned, we may even find different ways of coping during different seasons of our own lives.
Here’s one thing I have learned that is certain during the past forty plus years of trying to work for the Lord. Preaching & ministering in a local church does not happen most effectively in the abstract. We don’t prepare sermons to preach in empty buildings and we don’t preach to faceless people.
In the vast majority of the circumstances of life, we can’t minister to people through a computer sitting on our desk.
Our Lord works most effectively through real preachers who preach to real people. It seems, at least to me, that one of the blessings of not preaching for a megachurch is the opportunity to really get to know people. To sometimes be intimately involved in the lives of people we know.
If you are struggling this week, try your best to find someone who you can help. Someone who needs you to serve them, to minister to them, to care for them. It might be a needed reminder of how vital you are to the work of the Lord. He needs you, He loves you, and by the way, so do we!
I’m not obsessed with Gene Wilder, but he was in probably the first movie I ever saw and liked: “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.” In those three channel television days he was right up there with Batman and Robin, and Rudolph. He went on to play numerous rolls in all sorts of engagements. But he was most widely known as the exocentric confectioner, Willy Wonka.
Wilder died at the age of 83 on August 29, 2016, at home in Stamford, Connecticut, he had Alzheimer's. Though he had been diagnosed three years prior to his death he kept knowledge of his condition private. He nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said that this was so as not to sadden fans of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, stating:
“The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn't vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him 'there's Willy Wonka,' would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment, or confusion. He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”
Minister friend, I do not know what issues you might be struggling with, who’s messing with your mind and ministry, who’s tempting you to quit or be quiet, who’s interrupting your industry and intentions. I don’t know what personal struggles you are in a battle with. I don’t know what baggage you have held on to. But I do know people are watching you. I don’t suppose it’s a sin for us to be human and to hurt but I do know that when many people think of their minister they need to see a man who is content in his life, at peace with his savior and has peace in his soul. I hope when they think of you, in the midst of whatever real pain you may be carrying they see the joy of the Lord and smile. We pray that God will bless your week with good.
In 1992 a seed was planted by the Civitan Club that gave birth to Pastor Appreciation Month. The month of October was designated as the time to show appreciation for preachers. We know what some of you are thinking, we don’t call our preachers pastors, but don’t we still need a preacher appreciation month? The Word of God is clear that good ministers should be encouraged and that honor should be given whom it is due.
This is not the kind of thing that preachers cherish talking about. They certainly wouldn’t ask their congregations or their leaders to do these things for them. Katie Orr wrote a nice article talking about those who minister in local churches and here is part of what she said: “He needs time away from work. He has a family he loves to spend time with. He needs to sleep and eat, do dishes and yard work. He wants to keep his priorities straight.”
We make these suggestions out of a strong desire to encourage, build up, and strengthen the men who give their lives in the service of the Lord.
We know many of you deeply appreciate your ministers and want to honor them. How can you honor the man who stands before you each week with a Word from the Lord? Some want to,but they honestly don’t know where to start. Some of these blessings have been given to us, some to other preachers we know and love. So with apologies to Chuck Lawless who recently wrote a similar article with some similar suggestions and who said some of what we were already thinking here’s our list of 25 possibilities:
Publicly commend him: Yes, we know there are those who do not like him and it will bug them when you do, but if he preaches truth he needs to be supported. When he takes a challenging stand in a loving manner, let him know in front of others that he is appreciated.
Remember when he makes a mistake that he is not perfect: Orr wrote, “His home life is not perfect. He has disagreements with his spouse. His kids make bad choices in spite of his instruction and correction. He often feels like he is in over his head. He needs the prayer and support of others. He sins. He struggles. He weeps. He bleeds.”
Give him and his family a weekend away: Let him get away and you as an eldership pay for it. And, don’t count it as vacation time.
Take out an insurance policy on him to be paid to his wife: Often times preachers sacrifice and their greatest earthly concern is what would happen to their wife/kids when they die. Take out a healthy policy on him. If he dies while there, she is taken care of and it costs the church little.
Remember him on his work anniversary: This is bigger than you think it is. We can almost guarantee you he remembers it. On big anniversaries make over him. Give him a bonus or something that helps him in some way. On my 5th anniversary at one church they prepared a binder with gift cards from each family in the church for gas, food, etc, it was very special.
Send him to the Bible Lands: If he has never gone, he wants to. If he has gone, he wants to go back. And the bonus here is that the church will benefit from it. The younger a guy is when he gets to make such a trip, the more the church will benefit from it. His preaching will be richer.
Hand him a gift card. A gas card. A card to his favorite restaurant. A general card to be used during the holidays. Little things are huge!
Call him into a meeting unexpectedly and pray a prayer for thanksgiving for him and let him know he is appreciated.
Regularly ask him how he and his family are doing and if they have any particular needs right now. We had one elder who would always ask how we were doing and just the fact he asked meant the world to us.
Send him a video-recorded thank you message from your family: Take a few minutes, record a short video greeting and “thank you,” and send it. Make it fun if you can.
Commit to him that you will not to speak ill of him to members of the congregation.
Send him a note periodically that you are praying for him and his family regularly, and, pray for him and his family regularly.
Give him a resource allowance: Books, apps, computers cost money and all aid in his ministry.
Stop by his office every once in a while just to say hello. Don’t stay too long, have a prayer with him, encourage him.
Give him an end of the year or holiday bonus: There are always extra expenses at that time of year.
Give a gift to his wife and children: The church that loves their preacher’s family will have a preacher who loves them.
Give a monetary gift in his honor to something that he loves and supports:
Offer a night or two of childcare over a month: If he has children that will really be appreciated.
Give him time and funds to attend a lectureship/conference/program he wants to attend: Encourage him to attend and pay his expenses to a BETTER conference.
On a BIG anniversary do something big: A large bonus would be nice or a cruise for him and his wife. This will assure him of your commitment to him and give him added incentive to stay.
Make a commitment for the future: If he is younger pay off any student loans. Or give him the money for a downpayment on a house. When dad had been at Woodlawn for 5 years they gave him the house we lived in. It became his in increments. 25% immediately, another 25% in five more years, and the final 50% in five more years. That’s incentive to stay when offers are coming in or things are challenging.
Offer to pay for continuing education at a good school: This will bless both him and the congregation.
Know him well enough to know what he enjoys and give him a gift that helps him enjoy it more: For example, if his hobby is golf, give him several rounds of golf. If it’s reading, give him Amazon cards. Give him something you know he’ll enjoy.
Have his car detailed: Clean it. Wax it. Change the oil. Fill it with gas. Give it back to him with maybe a restaurant gift card or two in the front seat.
Tell him you love him, often. That is, if you love him!
We know that not all congregations and leaderships have the resources to make some of these a reality. We are also aware that you may think some of these are frivolous. But, for the sake of encouraging a good preacher, we want to encourage you to do what you can....Do something that you believe to be worthwhile.
A few years ago the internet phenom Kid President tossed out several much needed Pep Talks. If you played any kind of organized sports you get it and know how they could rally a team or inspire an individual. I gave myself the one below recently. I needed it and it has helped. Maybe it will help you not to quit this Monday!
Stop moping and get happy. You have the right to be hurt, disappointed, cut deeply, and you will be and it will leave you reeling, but you don’t have the right to stay there. Why not?
I am beautifying nothing by my glumness (Titus 2:10).
Everybody has reasons to be unhappy. But I have no right to stay there (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
It does not glorify God (Colossians 3:23-24)!
It does not attract anyone to Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
So get up, and get out, and get over it. Stop the stinking-thinking, put on a new album and listen to good voices and not bad. If you didn’t hit the goal, get the job, have your program approved, readjust and dream again. Get your chin off the and look up to your God above. Remember that He loves you and let that be your sustenance. Find and feed on the many verses designed to give heart. Find and fellowship with those who bring joy to your heart and lift up your hands. It’s time to heal, it’s time to dream again, it’s time to live the faith you preach and do the deeds. Stop living with the hogs (Luke 15:16) and dogs (Philippians 3:1) and frogs (Exodus 8:9-10). You didn’t get in this to be miserable, soar again (Isaiah 40:31). God is with you, His People are for you, and your fellows ministers are depending on you. Let’s go!
Please remember, we love you! Don’t quit, the Kingdom needs you. Don’t quit, instead start again.
In our worship assemblies today, we continued a study of the words of Jesus from the cross. Today’s study was a look at the statement, “I am thirsty.”
During tonight’s study, we talked about how this study of the humanity of our Lord affects how we treat one another. Could you imagine being the person who was given the opportunity to offer the Savior of the world something to drink when He cries out from the cross, “I am thirsty?”
The good news is, Jesus tells us that we have that opportunity every day of our life. He tells us that when we serve others, it is as if we are serving Him. Even a cup of cold water given in His Name to someone who is thirsty, is as if we offered the water to Him. Further, He says, that kind of service will not lose its reward.
One of our problems as humans is we only want to do the big things, acts of service that are grandiose, that will get our name up in lights.
We preachers suffer from this human weakness as well. We want to preach for the large churches, speak on major programs, and serve in big ways.
If we don’t receive these opportunities, we become jealous, and sometimes think about throwing in the towel.
But, here’s the truth. Every little thing you will do this week matters big to the Lord. He never distinguishes between big things and little assignments.
The visits you will make, the Bible study you will conduct, the prayers you will pray with someone, the encouragement you will give, the job you choose to help someone with, and the moral support you will give to someone who needs it…It’s all important to the Savior. Remember, when we serve others, we are serving Him. May God bless you with a servant’s heart this week as you glorify Him.
In the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” Gene Wilder playing the lead role breaths the line “A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” I was probably 10 the first time that phrase was emblazoned on my brain and it is one that has stayed with me. Wilder’s Wonka wasn’t the first to use it. In fact it goes at least back to the 1820’s when the line appeared in a New York newspaper.
The Bible actually says it much better: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22). I don’t know what kind of day, week, month, or year you’ve had. I’m sure there have been some challenges. God’s evil enemy loves to tamper with the spirit of God’s good men. I don’t think there is any single thing that lends to quitting quite like discouragement. And that comes in so many forms.
Add to this fact sheet the reality that we are dealing with matters of heaven and hell. The most serious of things.
Can I remind your to smile? To laugh? To find something to feel good about? To be at a place where you can enjoy a good, pure, non-hurtful belly laugh? I fear for some of you it’s been way to long, especially if you are embattled, if you are tired, if you are feeling under-appreciated, if you’d like to move and can’t find anywhere to go or if you don’t want to move but fear you may not get that choice. When pressures mount we sometimes forget to do one of the healthiest and most beneficial things, so find something, someone, somewhere, some how to laugh. It’ll move the desire to quit a little further down the line.
During our worship assembly on Sunday morning, we sang “The Greatest Command.” As you know, this great song is based on the words of 1 John 4:7-8, “ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
It’s a beautiful song. But man, it’s so much easier to sing the words sometimes, than it is to put the words into practice in my life. At times, some of our brothers and sisters are difficult to love.
You know, when they tell you how much they LOVED their previous preacher. When they ALWAYS tell you about the scripture you misquoted or the grammatical error you made. When they NEVER tell you, they appreciate the time and effort you put into the messages you deliver. When the ONLY time they speak to you, it’s something negative or critical about the church, or about you.
It can be difficult to love elders when they treat you like a hired hand rather than a partner in the work of the Lord. When you don’t feel that you are receiving the moral or financial support you deserve. It can be difficult to love co-workers when you feel as though you are carrying the bulk of the load and they are just coasting to get by.
It can be difficult to love family members and friends who turn their back on you and walk away during times when you need them most. When you wonder in your weaker moments if they are for you or against you.
How are we to respond in times like these when it is difficult to love others? It might help us to remember how God loved us when we disappointed Him. (Romans 5:8)
What’d you eat today? I ate what I eat every week and with the same folks I eat with every week. Man, it's my favorite meal at my favorite place! I love telling people about it. Some think I ought to change it up some, not eat this same meal every week. Others make fun of it and mock it as a Chiclet. How much nourishment can that little break of bread or square give?
I’ve been eating this meal every Sunday for nearly 50 years with others “Acts 20 churches.” Let me tell you. It feeds me. I’m healthier spiritually, emotionally and in every good way because of that meal. It is the communion that reminds me of how much I am worth (1 Peter 1:18-19). It reminds me that I am loved by one who is powerful enough to protect, wealthy enough to sustain me, righteous enough to defend me with integrity, and honest enough that I can always trust Him. This meal connects me to the power of Christ and thereby the assurance of my salvation. It is the food that keeps me healthy me until I get to heaven. It is also the meal that I share with ALL others who love Him. It is the table that connects me when satan would divide me.
Oh, this meal is so vital. This is neither passing fad nor empty calories, it is no junk food. It keeps me going. It gives me strength. It nourishes my soul. It reminds me of why I do what I do. If I’m ever tempted to give up, I need to deeply meditate on this meal and it’s meaning. It will keep you from quitting!
What'd you eat today?
For those of us who preach, one of the more difficult aspects of our ministry, is knowing how to properly respond to those who say or do things that hurt us. There are times no doubt, when this is unintentional, but there are also times when this happens intentionally.
We’ve all heard them. “You are a good preacher, but I really loved our last preacher.” “What do you do with all of your spare time during the week?” “You are a lot better Bible class teacher than you are a preacher.” “I imagine that you were a lot more effective as a preacher when you were younger!” “How can your family afford a new car on a preacher’s salary?” “I know you don’t have much to do during the week, so could you help me with _______?” I’m sure you can add things that you’ve heard from others, ad nauseum.
The Sacred text says, “Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment…” (Daniel 2:14) The King had become indignant and extremely furious. In his anger, he made rash decisions that caused many to lose their lives.
Surely, it still happens. Some people, leaders, family members, and friends make sudden decisions that bring pain to us or those we love. How we respond will to a large degree determine our ability to live and faithfully serve the Lord as well as His people.
The King was wrong; Daniel was right, yet he didn’t respond in anger or arrogance. He responded with wisdom and tact.
The fact is, we will be disappointed, we will be wronged, and we will hurt. We can lash out, fight back, stand up for ourselves, give people what they deserve, let them have it, and prove our point.
Or, we can respond with discretion and discernment. Thank you brothers, for the difference you will make in the world, in families, and in the church as you respond to those around you this week with the grace and wisdom of the Lord. (1 Peter 2:21-23)
A little quote started swirling around in my mind and I figure I need to redeem it for the use of striving to encourage God’s men. In my favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” there is a scene where Mr. Potter offers George Bailey a significant job. For a moment Bailey is tempted to take the lucrative offer. Then it dawns on him he will have to forsake friends he has helped over the years. As he comes to himself he says to Potter, “In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!”
If you minister long enough there will be more than enough hurt in your heart. More than enough times of disappointment. More than enough days of discouragement. More than enough reasons to throw in the towel. And, if you allow it, I’ve seen it, you can become bitter, angry, hostile, so frustrated the message of the cross moves to the shadow of a personal position, deep hurt, pet hobby, or just out of focus in your ministry and teaching. Yes, you too could become nothing but a scurvy little spider. It can happen rapidly or slowly. May I challenge you this week to make room to celebrate the happiness in your heart, to renew your lease on joy, to recreate the passion for others that drove you into ministry, to refresh your spirit in some good way and revive your love for God’s People. Find your happy place in Jesus and dwell there for a few decades. This work can make you either bitter or better. Find the good even in the difficult. Shift to a better focus. You will be glad you did, your heart will be happy you did and your ministry will be more effective. Because you are NOT a scurvy little spider but a mighty man of God!
Now, I want you to know, I understand this is not simple and that some of you are going through a difficult stretch. We are praying for you. And, will you, even if the days are hard for you right now, join us in praying for your fellow ministers? Let’s strive to celebrate the good.
No one said that being a preacher would be easy. Well, someone might have said it (and apparently a lot of people think it’s easy), but those who said it would be wrong.
If you are a preacher and you are reading this, I don’t have to delineate all the reasons that it isn’t easy being a preacher. We all have our lists. Some of the reasons we might give would be similar, others would be unique to the experience of each individual preacher.
Some preachers feel that their life is or has been much more difficult than others. Some of you who are reading this are going through some really hard times right now.
Maybe you’ve recently lost your job, or you are afraid you will soon. Maybe you or your spouse are enduring a serious illness. Maybe you are having struggles in your family, or you are having an especially hard time financially.
Of course, the truth is, there is always someone who is better off than we are right now, and there is always someone who is going through a tougher season than we are right now.
But, none of that is really my point in this post. My point is, that whatever you are dealing with right now, if you remain loyal to the Lord, ultimately will be worth it.
All of the hours of study, the work, the preaching, the ministry, the meetings, the counseling sessions, the visitation, the prayers prayed for others, the late nights, the early mornings, the funerals, the weddings, are worth it.
All of the suffering, the heartache, the trials and tribulations, the financial struggles, the disagreements with elders, the unkind words from well-meaning Christians, the weariness, the feelings of being alone, are worth it.
It’s worth it preacher. Hang in there. Don’t give up or give in. Heaven will surely be worth it all. Have a blessed week. We love you.
Could you imagine hearing these verses from Jesus Himself, as He sat across from you? “…satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat…” You know, He could. The English doesn’t reveal it clearly, but the “you” there is plural. satan* was desiring, demanding, wanting all of the disciples.
satan desires all of us. and when the evil one gets one of God’s Men he proudly posts it in his sickening trophy case and displays it to do harm to the heart of God and to effectively harm the cause we believe in. satan wants you. Wants to sift you as wheat.
Tautges says: “The image Jesus chose, that of sifting like wheat, is painfully graphic. “The picture is of grain in a sieve, where the head of grain is taken apart (Amos 9:9). Our English idiom of ‘picking someone to pieces’ or ‘taking someone apart’ has similar emotive force. Satan would like to bring Peter to ruin and leave him in pieces, exposing his lack of faithfulness.”
But then the next words. “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Or as the NCV renders it: “I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.”
satan wants you. he wants your energy, your influence over others, your abilities to impact souls, your talents to communicate. And he won’t play fair, he will use our pain, our disappointments, our anger, our frustrations with others, our feelings of inadequacies, our suspicions of people against us, people working against us, our let-downs.
Unless, unless, unless we refuse him, resist him, rebuff him.
THEN…HE will use us. “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him” Romans 8:28 GNB).
* * * *
* Dale Note: I refuse to capitalize the name or any pronoun describing the evil one in ANY instance.
satan would try to get you to quit over any little or big thing he can. Don’t. God needs you. We pray for you, but more than that Christ prays for His serving disciples. satan desires you, but he can’t win unless you let him.
Here is the reason we make these articles available each week. Like many of you, we know all too well that some Monday’s can be extremely difficult for preachers. We have experienced blue Monday's and we have counseled with numerous preachers through the years who have as well.
Sunday’s can be at the same time both exhilarating and taxing. They can be filled with both joys and sorrows. There will be Sunday’s that may cause us on Monday to reconsider our commitment to preaching.
Hence, our byline. “Don’t Quit on a Monday.” This is our motivation for writing 4YourMonday. Prayerfully, just a little piece of encouragement that will serve as a reminder to all of us about why we keep doing what we do.
However, it’s one thing to say, “Hang in there,” “Don’t give up,” “Don’t quit on a Monday!” The question is what can we do when we find ourselves in this place? Are there any helpful suggestions? My prayer is that if you are struggling, one or more of these might be helpful.
First, keep your eyes on Jesus. Satan desires to distract us from our Lord. He wants us to lose sight of the King. He hopes through depression, distraction, or seasons of defeat to make us take our eyes off the One who can do the most for us.
Second, refocus our priorities. Maybe someone was unkind to you on Sunday. Maybe you are going through a rough time with your elders. Maybe you feel overwhelmed as you look at this week’s schedule. Please remember, Dear Brother, our primary work is the Preaching of the Gospel. It has been my experience that when I’m having a tough time in life that there is nothing that helps quite as much as getting busy about the work of Preaching.
Third, take some time (if at any means possible) to relax, retreat, and renew. Take a day (or even half a day) and spend it doing something with your wife/family or a friend that brings joy.
Fourth (because I’m already over my word limit, I’ll be brief), spend some extra time in prayer. Talk to your Father. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you.
Hope these starters will help. I’m sure there are more. Have a blessed week and remember, you are loved and appreciated.
Oh, this thing we do. It is emotionally taxing, it is tiring, it is frustrating, at times it is heart-breaking and soul-wrenching, it seems to be never ending, and eventually we all begin to believe we are not up to the task. we are spent, we are ineffective, we are not really needed, someone else could do it better. satan whispers in our ear that we are not needed, appreciated. And we are tempted to believe his hissing lies.
But then a Sunday comes and the skies open and the light of God comes into the heart of a lost soul and you got to be a part of it. A child commits their life to Christ. A young couple asks you to be a part of their decision to commit to each other before God and witnesses for life. A tragic death occurs and you get to be the person who goes to their house and stand with them with no words but just the right words. And they smile and say, “Thanks, I don’t know how we’d get through this without you.”
And in that moment you determine, I won’t quit.
Where else do you get to be a part of all of that in a day’s work?
We are thankful you have not quit. What you do matters. It is bigger than you know, it is more meaningful than you feel. It is eternal. You are not perfect and you know it, but you are God’s man and on His team. You are needed.
It was my privilege on Saturday to take part in the memorial service of a dear friend and brother who spent 68 years of His life preaching the Word of God.
He is one of a handful of preachers that we know who have received their crown of life within the past couple of weeks. These preachers represent more than 400 years of preaching!
My friend had numerous struggles in his life. He went through a divorce, he lost a grown daughter who had cancer, he endured cancer himself, he lost jobs and he spent the last years of his life in a motorized wheelchair.
It is probably true that each of these men of God who have recently passed away endured their own share of difficulties during various seasons of life.
Yet, it is remarkable to me that each of these men endured faithfully. While they were not all necessarily in local works their entire life, they never quit preaching. They never quit serving the Lord. They kept fighting the good fight of faith.
Perhaps, you are enduring a season of sadness right now. Maybe it’s an illness or an illness of someone close to you. Maybe you’ve recently lost your job, or you fear that it might happen soon. Maybe you are struggling with relationships with elders or someone in your family. Maybe you are dealing with a difficult financial situation. Maybe you are going through a dry season in your spiritual walk with God and you feel depressed or discouraged.
My prayer for you is that God will give you the strength you need to endure, to keep fighting, to hang in there. Don’t give up on Him. He will see you through. And, there are many others who would be glad to help. Seek them out! Reach out to someone you trust.
Hang in there one more day, one more week, one more month, one more year. And, above all, keep leaning on Him!