As I walked along the path talking with the teenage son of my Ugandan host, I asked the young man what he wanted to do as he got older. He replied “I want to be like you, I want to be an evangelist.” I thought to myself, to want to be an evangelist is an exciting thing, but I’m not sure you want to be like me!
Some people have the picture that the life of an evangelist is exciting, maybe having a high profile on a platform and seeing people come to Christ. The life of an evangelist can be exciting and rewarding, but at the same time it can also become quite difficult and draining. Due to the different challenges we sometimes face, we can be led to ask ourselves “Is it worth it, should I just give up?”
The question is what can we do to help redress the balance in those times of self-doubt and despondency?
BE FOCUSSED ON YOUR CALL
Our primary calling is not to ministry, it is to relationship. We can’t focus on our ‘ministry calling’ without first focusing on our own personal relationship with God. It is through that communion with Him we both receive our calling, and work to fulfil it.
There are lots of elements to keeping a “ministry” going, but sometimes I wonder if we get caught up in the “build your ministry” trap, rather than staying focussed on WHY we do what we do? Our passion, our desire, and our purpose in our calling as evangelists flows out of our daily intimacy with God. It’s from that place that God calls us and puts in our hearts and lives the desire and gifting to reach others with the gospel.
It’s good, to think about when God first called us as an evangelist and remind ourselves of how far He has brought us!
Run your race....
I stood on the starting line, waited for the signal and then started to run as fast as I could. The finishing line seemed so far off. As I ran down the track, I started to look over my shoulder at those coming up behind me. Soon some of those that were behind were in front, and many finished before me. What happened? I lost my focus. I took my eye off of the finishing line. I never did that well at my school running races, but one thing I learnt as the years went by and I ran that annual race was: Don’t look over your shoulder at what others are doing, run your own race and focus on the finish line!
As evangelists it’s great to work together, do ministry together, pray and fellowship together, but we have to recognise we have our own race to run. One of the key dangers in ministry can be to “look over our shoulders” or look around at how well others are doing. It’s not always good to compare yourself to others. We should give God praise for the way in which someone else’s ministry is being blessed, but we should not let that take us off of the course God has for us. We need to continually keep in our view that God has called us to do a specific job, “for such a time as this.”
The battle is won… but the war is not over!
Jesus won the victory on the cross, but until we go to meet Him in Heaven, or until he returns, we are still in a war. The enemy will do all within his power to distract and discourage us. If you are like me you will have known disappointments in your ministry, but we must not let those disappointments discourage us. What I have found is that sometimes those disappointments lead to God opening up new opportunities… the key to addressing despondency is to keep focussed on direction!
BE FOCUSED ON THE GOSPEL
We are ambassadors for Christ and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. As you well know, people need the good news…. the gospel changes lives, the gospel brings hope in the darkness. We have no other message other than the gospel. We are not politicians, we are not financial advisers, we are proclaimers of the greatest message the world will ever hear!
It can be an easy trap to fall into thinking we know the gospel so well… but we should never tire of thinking about the gospel and about what Jesus has achieved for us. We should never stop being amazed at God’s wonderful grace. It’s in keeping a fresh daily perspective on God’s love for US, that we can be renewed in our vision to share that message of love with others.
BE FOCUSSED ON THE DESTINATION
We have to remember as the song puts it “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” As tough as our ministry may be at times, we have to also keep focussed on our destination – Heaven. Not only is that something we can look forward to as we, like Paul, “Press on…” (Phil 3:14), but it’s the destination we look to lead others towards as we share the gospel.
There are many things in ministry that try to pull us down… but be encouraged to stay focussed – you are CALLED, you have a MESSAGE and you have a DESTINATION, so keep going!