Lesson 2: Ministry Is the Way of the Cross!

Sorry, the Glory goes to Jesus

He warned the disciples that ministry would be hard. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11). The way of ministry was paved for us by the martyrs. Paul recounted episodes of unbelievable hardships (see 2 Corinthians 11 for one example). Peter’s first letter to the church is dominated by encouragement to endure suffering. The hardships you endure point others to the glorious Christ.

Glory or Cross?

When Jesus predicted his own suffering, the disciples (three times in a row) tried to convince him that glory, honor, praise, celebration, riches, reputation, power and domination over every enemy was a much better way to go. Jesus set them straight. When he told them that it was time for him to be glorified, he explained it this way: “I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed” (John 12:24). There was only one way for Jesus to go: the way of the cross. That’s the way it is for us also.

The best view of Jesus

To know Jesus, you have to see him on the cross. To lead others to see Jesus, his disciples also bear their crosses. And leaders in the mission bear an abundant share of burdens. The hope of glory, that wonderful day when we will hear, “Well done. Come and share your master’s happiness” is coming soon enough, but it’s not here yet. We’re still walking the way of the cross. A prosperity gospel that seeks comfort and wealth during the short days of this life is such a shallow gospel. The good news that the world needs to hear is the news of the cross. The Lord’s design for sharing the cross is bearing the cross.

Easy yoke or heavy cross?

So which one is it? “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” or “Pick up your cross and follow”? In an ironic twist from the scene of Simon helping Jesus bear his cross on Good Friday, we have the joy of discovering that even the crosses of ministry are easy to bear when we know that Jesus is always alongside, carrying the load for us. At Grace Place Wellness, we want you to know that you’re not alone.

Chains and songs of praise

“After they had been severely flogged…” (Acts 16:23), Paul and Silas responded with prayers and songs of praise to Jesus. Guess who showed up? The jailer, his family, and who knows how many more saw Jesus in the cross borne by his friends. Ministry is hard. You pay a price every day. And you’re pointing us all to Jesus. Thank you for your faithful service. And thanks for reading. “It’s the Way of the Cross” is Lesson Two in, “Reclaiming the Joy of Ministry: The Grace Place Way to Church Worker Wellness” a new book from Grace Place Wellness Ministries coming in January.