Monthly theme: Resilience
Reading time: two minutes
Han Solo never flew solo. The Lone Ranger had a faithful companion.
Ministry is hard, so don’t try it alone.
Elijah’s lament at his lowest point of despair was, “I’m the only one left!” (1 Kings 19:10, and again in 19:14!)
The Lord’s blessing of refreshment for Elijah was wrapped around the communion of the saints: new leaders for Israel, a partner in Elisha, and a reminder of the 7,000 faithful.
Resilience in ministry is always communal. Service in the kingdom is a team sport.
Kind of like the line-up card in the baseball manager’s pocket, I hope you’ve got a list handy of your key players. In the fellowship of the saints we find resilience. You’re surrounded by angels, messengers of Jesus who are ready to provide what you need to find refreshment, renewal, nurture and encouragement, and to follow the Lord’s commission to Elijah, “Go back the way you came!” (1 Kings 19:18).
Here’s a checklist of the position players that I think everyone in ministry needs. Who’s in your lineup?
Who knows when you’re hurting? There are those in our lives who can see our pain, sometimes even before we do. Let them know what a critical service they provide you as your early warning signals.
Who listens when you need to spill your guts? Who do you trust with absolute confidence that listens carefully and compassionately, just so you can dump your emotions?
Who’s your father confessor? Where do you go when it’s time for private confession and absolution, to hear the blessed words of forgiveness straight from heaven through the mouth of a Pastor?
Who makes sure that you are recreating? In my first parish, it was Ron, the AAL Representative. He gave me golf lessons. He’d make up excuses (“I need to talk to you about the Parish Education Committee”) to get me out on the golf course. Ron was also one of my “I can tell you’re hurting before you can” guys.
Who “smells like Jesus” to you? Who’s that person who spends time in the Holy of Holies and comes away bearing the fragrance of the Lord (see Exodus 30)? Time spent with people who are more spiritually mature than you are is a healing balm and a source of resilience.
Who reminds you how to celebrate? It’s a weakness of many of us to dwell on the negatives, the frustrations of ministry. We all need those people who are attentive to the wonders that God is working around us every day, wherever His Word is proclaimed. Seek out your most positive encouragers often and remember to celebrate.
Who’s your pastoral counselor? You need one on call. You might not meet for years at a time, but when you are enduring an episode of anxiety that calls for professional intervention (notice I did not say “if”; I said “when”), you need the counselor you would call in the forefront of your mind. Don’t wait. Do your vetting early.
Who’s your prayer partner? Meet regularly.
These are your resilience All-Stars. Who do you rely on that I failed to mention?
Thanks for reading.