This past Saturday, the 8 and Under baseball team I assist in coaching entered a tournament about an hour away from our home town. We played against teams that had higher skillsets than us, the fields were wet and muddy from the previous weeks’ rain (and there was LOTS of it!), and at the end of the day the kids were dirty, hot and tired. I’m certain my fellow coaches and I (and more than a few parents) wondered why we entered: we lost all three of the games we played, our kids were dirty. And we had some issues with the way the games were called (not many, but some game-changers!). Last night, however, our baseball team was a different team! They played with their heads and eyes on the ball, they communicated with one another, and they looked like baseball players! The tournament had its intended effect: though we lost, and were dirty, sore and tired, our kids, by going against kids of a higher skill level, are beginning to play better as a team, trust the coaches and one another and understand the game!
I say all that to say this: ministry is much the same way. Most of us want to be comfortable, to never really grow or be challenged, and to continue to stay in the area we feel most comfortable in. But that’s such an unrealistic view on, not merely serving God, but also on life! We grow as we are challenged, and, yes, being challenged, especially by God almighty will make us sore, tired, heartbroken, get us muddy, and even cost us everything we have, but it’s worth it! If soul winning is what we’re about (and if you’re a follower of Christ it should be!), then we’ll get hurt, we’ll get cheated, we’ll get taken advantage of, some will get imprisoned, tortured and killed (maybe not in the US, but it is happening every day across the globe), but the souls won to Christ are worth it! Eternity with Jesus spent with our loved ones, enemies and friends is worth it! Ministry is messy, go get dirty, and see how God is with you each step of the way!
2 Timothy 3
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.