February 22, 2011
Why I Do What I Do
T. Suzanne Eller
"Again he said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.'"
John 20:21 (NLT)
Two sisters stood at the front of the church. Both were marked by a hard life. The younger sister sat down beside me. She had become a believer the year before. Just a few weeks earlier, she and a woman in the church had rescued her older sister from domestic violence and drug addiction.
"Can I pray with you?" I asked.
The older sister knelt on the floor, pressed her forehead between my knees and wrapped her arms around my legs. Her need was so tangible, her hunger so great. As she held tight to my legs, I felt her tears bleeding through the fabric of my pants. I was suddenly overwhelmed as God's presence flooded that moment and that space, and I felt His love for His broken, sweet daughter.
I leaned down and wrapped my arms around her and prayed, but it wasn't the words that mattered. It was God showing me all over again the truth: He transforms lives. He loves. He came to heal the broken-hearted and to place their feet on a new path.
Later that night I thought about that moment again, and I thanked God that I get to do what I do.
Sometimes the details of ministry life can take center stage. Whether you teach Sunday school, or work with youth, or are a pastor's wife, or lead worship, or anything you feel God has called you to do, sometimes people are difficult, or even discouraging. Sometimes you feel like a failure, even though you prepared and prayed for this.
No matter the challenge, it's nothing compared to what the early Christians experienced. I can only imagine the highs and lows these faithful people felt. But they kept their focus on the one thing that they got to do -- carry the Good News to those who were seeking truth. Perhaps they saw the fruit of their labor, but it's more likely that they didn't.
Transformation doesn't happen overnight. So while they were tossing seeds of hope here and there, it's likely that they experienced imperfect people, human nature, and obstacles, just like us.
In John 21, we find Peter, a guy pretty discouraged by ministry. He was enthusiastic in the beginning. But when he hit hard times in ministry, he almost forgot why he was doing what he was doing, and he ran in the other direction. But in verses 15-17 we see Jesus reminding Peter of the beauty of serving others. "Feed my sheep," He said three times. Peter rediscovered his mission. He went on to become a rock in the church.
Are you discouraged by the details, by people, by the mountains that keep popping up when it seems you just prayed them away the week before?
If so, today I pray that He will remind you all over again of why you do what you do. I pray He shifts your attention to those, like the beautiful young woman once abused and broken, whose lives are in the process of change.
You see, there will be many who "do what they do" who will come alongside the hurting woman. Sunday school teachers, pastors, women's ministry leaders, soup kitchen cooks, Christian friends—people just like you—and in the end they all will have written the Gospel on her heart.
Dear Lord, reignite my passion for ministry. Let me glimpse Your burden for those I come in contact with, and let me rediscover all over again why I love serving You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The Woman I Am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller
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"Peter loved Jesus with the deepest of loves, but his illusions, his presumptions about himself, were stripped away. Three questions--three confessions--three commissions! Peter's heart soared in relief." ~ Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes
John 21:15, "After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' Peter replied, 'you know I love you.' 'Then feed my lambs,' Jesus told him. (NLT)
©2011, by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.
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