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A Lonely Road

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(I originally wrote this on October 27, 2014, but I just haven’t put it up here yet)

Some say that ministry is a lonely road, and they’re right.  One of the things they don’t bother to tell you while you’re in college, especially in ministry prep courses, is just how lonely the road can be after graduation.  A lot of recent college graduates I’ve talked to have said the same thing.  They just didn’t know how hard and lonely it would be!

Think about it:  The push in college is not only to get your degree so that you can get that dream job, but to invest in wonderful, life-long friends.  But guess what?  When graduation day comes, the friends usually disperse all over as the Lord calls them separate ways.  Sure, we remain friends, albeit from a distance, but what do we do when we find ourselves in a completely new place with no friends and no connections?  Who do we connect with?  Who do we befriend?

Those who walk into ministry as singles face this in an especially potent way.  As the Lord calls us to new territory where we know no one, we can face deep loneliness.  Often times, we don’t have the opportunity to go serve with our best friend or with our closest loved ones.  (Maybe it’s just me, but I think that this applies to others too.  If you agree, can I get a shout out down below?)  Granted, the role of the single adult in the Church and the Kingdom of God are important and vital.  It is a key calling, but it is a hard and lonely one.

Yet despite the loneliness that can come with the calling to ministry, God is always present and always with us.  Even when the loneliness is overwhelming, He IS there!  We are given an opportunity to press into Him in a unique ways and to depend on Him more fully.  The challenge is will we take the opportunity and actually do it?

Here’s the other thing: even though ministry and being a vocational minister is a lonely road, we’re not meant to walk it alone.  I challenge those of you in ministry to reach out to someone in your church or area whom you can befriend.  Share life with them and together seek the Lord encouraging one another in the ministry and in the Lord.  We are not meant to live or minister alone. And though we may feel lonely, we are not alone!

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How do we View Success?

This world defines success in a number of ways, but these all seem to center around accomplishments, achievements, power, clout, and other outward gains.  All too often these same ideas form the basis of what we think of as “successful” in the church as well.  We can be overcome by the pressure to move up the rungs of the leadership ladder, desiring more recognition for our service, wanting more atendees than that other church down the road, or a bigger paycheck at the end of each month.  Truly it is difficult to keep clear of what our culture deems necessary for success.

We who are in Christ have a different definition of success laid before us.  The Gospel shows us this in our Savior, Jesus.  He was a homeless man, who was hated by the religious leaders of His day, was falsely accused of many crimes (chiefly blasphemy), and died a criminal’s death.  This is NOT exactly what we think of when we think of a successful person.  No employer would pick this man to be the next president of their company.  Yet Christ accomplished His Father’s will on earth.  He did what He came to do- what He was born to do!  He finished His work on earth completely, leaving nothing undone or unfulfilled which was spoken of Him through the prophets.

In light of this reality, we must decide how we will define success.  Will we define it the way the world does or think of success as we see it in Christ and His Kingdom?  Will success become for us something we can measure on paper or with temporary pleasures, or will we embrace a view of success in which the chief aim is obeying God regardless of the outcome?  This approach to success may bring us ridicule and may not be glamorous, but if we are being obedient to our King it is worth it.

I would rather be successful and faithful in the eyes of my God, than successful and having all the money and acolades this world can offer.

In the words of an old hymn:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”

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