Every person who has served as a pastor or ministry leader has the scars to show for it. Our job is to shepherd the sheep, but as the old saying goes, "Sheep bite." They also kick. There are times that the opposition and the unfair personal attacks hurt so bad and can so weigh us down that we can lose our joy in ministry. We don't look forward to going into the office. We hesitate to check our email. We even wonder at times if it's worth it. Once in my ministry it got so bad that I found myself with a severe case of "McEnvy" as I watched the man working behind the McDonalds counter put my order together and I started wishing that I had his job instead of mine.
The Apostle Paul went through these painful times in ministry as well but as he opens this very transparent letter to the church at Corinth he reminds them, and himself, that he is an Apostle, not because it was easy, not because of the fanfare it brought, not even because it was his choice alone, but "by the will of God." It was his calling and this calling came from God. Nothing could change that. It is in the most hurtful times of our ministry that we must fall back on our calling..."Scott, a pastor by the will of God." It is your calling that will keep you moving forward when ministry brings the most pain.
I remember my final conversation with my Grandpa before he died. He had been a pastor for nearly 50 years and had experienced the many joys of ministry. But he also had many scars as a result. His last words to me, his preacher grandson, were, "Don't ever give up on the Lord." I think I know now what he was saying back then. As a pastor there would be hurts and heartaches. There would be times that every fiber of your being would want to throw in the towel and call it quits. You will get, "McEnvy." But in those times - no matter how bad it gets - NEVER GIVE UP ON THE LORD! You are a pastor called "by the will of God."
So, hurting pastor, be reminded today of your calling. Fall back on it. And no matter how bad it gets - NEVER GIVE UP ON THE LORD!