One Major Reason We Face Suffering in MinistryBy Guest Author
November 11, 2021
This article is by Daniel Henderson, based on a sermon given at GCC’s 2021 Senior Pastor & Wife Retreat. Daniel is the president of 6:4 Fellowship.
What do we do with our trials? Anyone who has been in ministry for some time can speak well of the hurt and pain that awaits all who enter there. As Christians, we know that trials and wounds in ministry are not a surprise to God. The Apostle Paul knew that troubles are really things that God does to shift our perspective from the temporary to the eternal. God has a purpose for our burdens. Even in these purposes, however, God does not leave us to suffer alone. He gives us supernatural comfort in the midst of our trials.
If it is true that God has a purpose for our trial and wounds in ministry, then it’s only natural to ask: What is that purpose? Paul gives us insight in 2 Corinthians 1 in a discussion on his own suffering.
Laying Down Our Life for the Sheep
The purpose of trials and wounds in ministry is for God to do a supernatural sanctification and to give us unusual strength so that our message will be authenticated, and our ministry will bring strength and sanctification to others. Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, often said that there was one word that defined his life in ministry: “Others.” Many times, when we face trials and hardships it is not to discipline us or to teach us a lesson (though that is sometimes the case), but for the sake of what we will give to others down the road. If suffering supplies ministry, then we are right to embrace the difficulties, however hard they may be.
In the moment of suffering, as hard as it is, we must remember the words of Jesus: the hireling fleas when the enemy comes, but the good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep. Paul’s life was marked by suffering. The Christian ministry is marked by afflictions, pain and troubles; it is marked by laying down our lives for the sheep, not by desertion, but by suffering well for others’ sake.