There are two "nots" in the Bible that have continually challenged my years of ministry. Galatians 6:9 challenges us to not grow weary in well doing, and 2 Corinthians 4:16 challenges us to not lose heart. Having been in ministry for over 35 years I can say that numerous times I have become weary in ministry. In fact, a common response I hear from my fellow ministers when asked how they are doing is: "I'm tired." So are we missing something about this verse?
It is one thing to be tired "in our ministries." It is an entirely different thing to be tired "of ministry." The verse says we are not to grow weary in "well doing." I have learned that to "not to grow weary in well doing" is different than being physically or emotionally tired. Paul was exhausted at times, but he kept up his ministry and his "well doing." I love doing ministry. I love teaching, shepherding, encouraging and helping. I can be physically exhausted and still teach. If I am emotionally worn down by counseling or serving and someone needs me to comfort or shepherd them, or disciple them, I love the opportunity. I can be diligent in "well doing" while I am tired.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul writes we are not to "lose heart" in our ministry work. This phrase can literally be translated “we are not to give up”. In the next few verses Paul gives us some helpful instructions, a "how-to" guide so to speak, on not giving up. He actually teaches us how to renew our strength and our minds continually so that we do not grow weary in well doing.
First, we are RENEWED when we contemplate the spiritual and eternal.
It is vital for our spiritual strength that we focus on the spiritual man. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) If your spiritual man is growing stronger it will even help your physical man not be weary! Your spiritual man will strengthen your emotions. With all the hundreds of health plans on the web these days, this is a great health plan! Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4, if she would trust in him, she would have living water spring up inside of her. A spring inside her that would satisfy her very soul. How much healthier can you be? Remember that Jesus also teaches the soul is the most important thing you can care for, because there is no profit if a man loses his soul (Matthew 16:26). Colossians 3:1-4 emphasizes this same idea. We must learn to set our affections on things above, not on things of this earth. The direction and desire of your thinking need to be spiritual in nature; heavenward and heavenly. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4 that when we look at what we cannot see, we do not lose heart. How cool is that? We must look with eyes of faith, we must look with eyes of hope and trust in a loving God who died to save us from our sins. There's a great "old" song and chorus we used to sing all the time when I was younger, and I still let our church sing it regularly, that says "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." The opening verse of that song says, “O soul are you weary.” We will not become discouraged and wearied by long hard ministry days, fears and anxiety and trials, even when our outer man is decaying if we keep our focus on the spiritual man. Renew your inner self daily in the Word of God and prayer.
Second, we are RENEWED when we confess our sins daily.
David wrote in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Daily confession of sin renews our spiritual strength. 1 John 1:9 reminds us to "confess our sins daily and God who is faithful and just, will forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness. The word confess in this context means to "say the same thing as" or literally to name your sins by name. Mature Christians do not go to God and say, "Father forgive me for I have sinned" and leave it at that. Mature followers of Christ understand we have a relationship with God and Jesus, and we must tell Jesus specifically what we have done wrong. This kind of confession sounds like, "Lord please forgive me for using your name in vain today," "Lord I know I had anger in my heart today," "Lord I am struggling with doubting you today." We can list dozens of sins by names: lying, lust, bitterness, jealously, greed, selfishness, coveting, etc. When we confess our known sins, the Scripture teaches us we are forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness. We are fully righteous when we practice healthy forgiveness. This is how we refresh our soul and renew a right spirit. Do not neglect this great strengthening tool.
Third, we are RENEWED when we commit our life to God daily.
Look at Romans 12:1-2 which are very familiar verses for many of us. “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” When, by God’s mercy, you present yourself daily to serve and worship God and you resist sin and the temptation of the world, you are renewed in your mind. One of my mentors, a 76 year-old, hard-working godly man, taught me to do this daily. Jack's morning prayer routine includes these verses as he presents himself to God each day to serve Him. Although he still works to maintain a small lawn service, he is in 10-14 nursing homes and several rehab centers a month building relationships, discipling men for Christ and loving the "least of these." In his spare moments he writes inspirational books about God's peace, and prayer, and the Cross of Christ. Oh, that God would give us more men like him, fully surrendered, and willing to serve with all their days.
Fourth, we are RENEWED when we confirm our faith with truth.
Lamentations 3:19-26 says, “Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.”
When we sing, say, write, teach, share and speak the truth about God we renew our spirit. Look how many times in the Psalms the writer was despairing of trials, defeat, enemies, unfair circumstances, or pain and then spoke of the lovingkindness and mercy of God. If you really want to refresh a tired spirit, write in a journal four or five sentences that declare truths about the God you know and love. Speaking truth into the light always makes the darkness run. Once you start, it’s hard to stop! Speak and declare truths out loud when you are discouraged. God's Word will not return void; it will bless you.
You can be tired when you minister. In fact, if you are a minister and not tired, something is wrong, or you need to be writing to me and telling me know how you do it. But there is a difference in being tired from ministry and being tired of ministry. Let's all agree to refresh our spiritual man and keep our souls strong in faith so that we can effectively minister. I want to encourage fellow ministers, full time, bi-vocational and and lay-ministers to hold one another accountable to these Scriptural guidelines. If you know some who are weary, check on them. Ask them some good questions regarding their inner strength. At 6.14 Ministries we long to see ministers thrive and serve others with joy. Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for prayer, support, encouragement, or help. We would be happy to visit with you.