Ministry definitely offers its share of disappointments and heartache. It’s a tricky balancing act of walking through life with individuals and avoiding being ensnared by their issues, developing a codependency, or living and dying on their progress or lack of. Helping others requires courage, compassion, resiliency, patience, thick skin, and as my boss used to say “velvet covered steel” which equals tenderness plus durability and strength.
This will help us when people blow it royally or even walk away from God. Enduring the aftermath is often times excruciating. Watching people wrestling with their own sin, pride, and stubbornness is often times unbearable because they didn’t have to face it, if they had just listened. I’ve seen it happen with college students, interns, leadership school students, even other ministers. Just a couple things I’ve learned along the way…
We can’t make people live for God
Preach the greatest sermons, invest endless amounts of time and resources, and people can still end up not following Christ. We have to remember that people even left Jesus. The crowds who didn’t want to eat His flesh, a rich young ruler, and even Judas, one of his closer friends. He told us that there are many worldly distractions that affect our spiritual course. Jesus made it “difficult” for people to get in and easy for them to walk away. Serving God has to be in a person’s heart, something they’re passionate about.
We can’t make people make wise decisions
As we disciple people, we are preparing them to stand on their own. We help them to apply the Scriptures to their lives, and give them principles for weathering life’s challenges. But when decision time comes, they’re the only ones who can make it. We can encourage, admonish, and even rebuke, but they’ll act on what’s in their heart. My pastor’s wife always says, “People will do what they want.” Sad fact of life.
We can’t live people’s lives for them.
They could be about to do the stupidest thing ever. We can see it clearly from our perspective. We can try to intervene. But it’s their lives and their decisions. And it’s not our fault!
But all is not lost. There are obvious things we need to keep building upon…
We can continue to be proactive.
FAITHFULNESS. I have, through some harrowing experiences, felt like that word was overrated. Not so. Keep doing what we know to be right. Obedience. Tenacity. There are others out there who still need us to remain consistent and stay the course.
We can provide the atmosphere for them to grow
Keep praying, keep teaching the Word, open your life to people, reach out, encourage folks to keep pursuing God. Don’t get bitter and broadcast it to others. Keep leading. Stay consistent. Be ready for them to come to their senses and pick up where they left off.
We can demonstrate what it means for them to live for God
Let’s make sure our we’re modeling what we’re teaching. Let them see the affects of following Christ in our lives. We can make it. We can be successful spiritually!
We can give them the tools to be successful
All we’re called to do is teach people what Christ commanded us to (Matthew 28). We arm them with principles, Scriptural precedence, and life experience. What comes next is up to them.
We can pray like crazy
There’s a time where we need to let go of the person and submit them totally to God. He cares more about them than we do and has more of a vested interest. He’ll do what’s necessary to get them back on the right track and give them every opportunity to continue their walk with Him.