It’s easy to write great prayer letters when you see God working visibly doing amazing things in your ministry. Recently I talked about the ups and downs of ministry. We all have them. Sometimes we get stuck in the cold winter when all seems dead. Then spring comes and we see the first signs of life. The up times of spring and summer pump you full of energy until you can hardly wait to get out of bed in the morning. But when the down times come and you feel the cold winter chill in your ministry, how do you survive?
If you think missionaries don’t experience down times, maybe it’s because they don’t say much about them. What do you put in a prayer letter when you don’t see God working and your ministry is falling apart? Missionaries have to be careful what they say. During the down times churches sometimes quit supporting their missionaries financially because they aren’t seeing results. Somehow it seems like we hide our pain during the down times and only talk about it after things have changed for the better.
We are seeing some good things happening in our ministry right now, but I believe we need to be honest about the ups and downs of ministry. We need to praise God when we see him working, but we need to encourage each other when he is working in ways we cannot see.
If you are experiencing a down time in your ministry right now, you may be waking up each morning with a heavy heart. You don’t want to be a quitter, but you feel you are getting nowhere. What can you do today to make a difference?
During a down time in our ministry our administrator, Steve Brennecke, sent us these words of advice. They read like a to-do list for down days. I hope they will encourage you today.
Don’t be discouraged with other people. Focus on your personal walk with God. Draw sustenance daily from the Word. Walk with him and be content in him. He is not done ministering through you! Learn something new of Christ. Learn something new of God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Take a day away to recalibrate your ministry expectations and goals. Minister to one person meaningfully. Write a letter of encouragement to a friend who needs it. You will be living a glorious life if Christ is living in you! (Galatians 2:20)
We have a small ministry, but as I look back in recent years I see that the Lord had repeatedly given us opportunity to really minister to one person in a significant way for an extended period of time. Just now that seems to be doubling up. He is also showing us examples of how he was working in lives when we couldn’t see evidence of it.
Whatever is happening in your ministry today, may the Lord encourage you as you work to encourage others.