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Elijah: Don't Try This Alone!

Reading time: two minutes. We’re wrapping up our look at Elijah’s journey from Mt Carmel to the broom tree and back into ministry again. At the end of 1 Kings 19, the conclusion of Elijah’s journey is a communal affair. At his lowest point, he had called out, “I’m the only one left,” but his restoration to vitality and joy in ministry was capped by two gifts: a friend and a faith family. Ministry is an isolating profession and loneliness is debilitating vast numbers of church workers and their families. I don’t think it’s accidental that as Elijah was restored to ministry, the Lord deliberately sent him back in a new partnership and surrounded by thousands of members of the covenant community. That’s good counsel for everyone in ministry today. Let’s think vocationally first. Elijah discovered what we all eventually learn, either the easy way or the hard way: prophet is a tough job and nobody should try it alone. The task of ministry is well beyond the capacity and skill set of any of us to try this alone. We run into this truth when we’re compared, favorably or unfavorably, to our predecessors in the churches we serve. “He’s no Pastor Schmidt!” is the absolute truth, and no one should be surprised by that. You’re not supposed to be Pastor Schmidt (unless, of course, you’re Pastor Schmidt!) When the body of Christ in the local congregation is at its best, we discover the passions, skills, gifts and abilities of the called church workers, and then step up to surround them with the gifts of the people to supplement the leader’s deficiencies. It’s how a body works: “…as each part does its work” the Apostle writes in Ephesians 4. It’s the leader’s task to know himself and to raise up others so that the work of ministry moves forward. Elijah needed Elisha. We all need partners in ministry. Humbly recognizing how much we need each other is the essence of vocational wellbeing. But there’s a relational side to this story, too. Imagine the encouragement that Elijah received when hearing the word form the Lord that he was certainly not alone; there were 7,000 others in Israel who had not bowed down to the Baals! Who’s your community of support, your encouragers during the tough and often lonely times in ministry? Married church workers neglect their spouses at their own peril. Our partners in life need our time, energy and the intimacy that long, vulnerable conversations foster. A home life that is a sanctuary of love, respect and encouragement is a tremendous blessing. Single workers need close Christian friendships, and we all need the support of our peers. Time spent developing relationships with other church workers that are safe places to dream, to cry, to laugh, to share, to listen and to bless are vitally important to our wellbeing. I hope this series sends you into your own study of Elijah, Mount Carmel and the broom tree. I know you’ll be blessed. Thanks for reading. Our ministry is made possible by the generous donations of people just like you. Click here to discover how simple it is to make your gift of any size to Grace Place Wellness.