“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Ministry has challenges. Jesus faced them.

There were the crowds.  People wanting bread, to be healed, to see miracles and to hear the words of this man from Nazareth.

There were the religious leaders who showed up at every turn.  Never satisfied, always questioning, stirring up controversy and growing more hard-hearted by the day.

There were the disciples.  Fighting for position, plotting betrayal, speaking literal foolishness, doubting and seemingly never getting the point.

It is no secret, but let me bluntly say it again, “ministry has it challenges!”  It was probably something you already knew, possibly was taught to you in school, and it is definitely something you know for a fact if you have spent any time in ministry.  Challenges come in many different forms and degrees of difficulty.  It is nothing new.  It won’t change.  And you, as a leader in your congregation, have to deal with it.

Well, that doesn’t sound very encouraging at the forefront.  And I won’t add a list of trite sayings like “iron sharpens iron,” “adversity makes you stronger,” and “every obstacle is an opportunity” to take away from the reality (even though I just typed those sayings).  What I do want to do is remind you of the truth within the truth.  Our God is aware of your challenges.  Our God is in control.  Our God loves us.  Our God hears our prayers for wisdom and strength and He is actively at work.

Challenges will present themselves on a regular basis in ministry.  The question is, “What are you going to do with those challenges?”  Our sinful nature would have us respond with frustration, anger, resentment and possibly even apathy.  Satan would have you to cease and desist.   But that isn’t what God wants!

Jesus said it so clearly, “In this world you will have trouble.”  But He goes on, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.”  Jesus is victorious!  So we will not shy away from the fact the ministry is challenging at times.  Instead, we will not let the challenges overwhelm us as we celebrate in the victory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.  So, lift up your struggles to the One who has overcome the world and then move forward with a new conviction and “finish the race” that is set before you.

To God be the glory for each and every one of you.

Lord, we know that the days are filled with struggles, but we also know that you are greater than anything that may come our way.  So, we lift up our whole lives to you.  Be our refuge, our sanctuary, our strength.  We trust you and thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.  In your most precious name we pray, Jesus.  Amen.