While I prefer to “report live” from the storms, many people seem to refer back to their trials and tribulations once they reach the other side. As for those I meet who are involved in full-time ministry as I am, I run across even fewer people who are willing to report live from the eye of the storm. Perhaps those involved in full-time ministry believe the general public, and the very people to whom we minister, should not know that we, too, fall short, that we, too, struggle, and that we, too, have days we cannot imagine we will make it through.
Is it easy to share with the world that I struggle? Absolutely not. Is it easy as a woman involved in full-time ministry that I struggle? No way. Is it easy to confess that I have as many struggles in my life as ever? Of course not. But it is humbling. And there is a blessing in my transparency, in my honesty, in my openness, that far surpasses any reasons I might choose to keep my mouth shut, my pen dry, and my keyboard silent.
Paul said it best in the Bible. He explained that boasting about his weaknesses provides an opportunity for the world around him to see the power of Christ. In the context of my own life, this means that those listening to me, those watching me, and those reading what I write will not only see how far short I fall. They will see the awesomeness of Christ in my life as all victories and successes in my life are all to His glory.
I know for myself that I am most moved by those who tell the truth about themselves, by those who do not keep secrets, by those who let the world see they are not perfect. They are real. They are raw. They are transparent. They are open. This helps me to know that I am not the only human on this earth that messes up, that struggles, that faces challenges, that has a long way to go, that is a slow learner, that is, most importantly, totally human. At the same time, I can watch these people and see and witness the mightiness of God as He shines forth in their lives. I do not only see the victories in their lives. I see them go from failure to success, from challenge to overcoming, from trial all the way to the other side. I watch them grow, I see God at work, I witness the transformation process as God works in their lives.
So what about ministry leaders? What about pastors? What about evangelists? Are they any less human than the rest of the world? Do they need God any less? Are they already perfect? Are their lives easy all the time? In my experience, in my own life and hearing testimonies from others in full-time ministry, I find that some of the greatest challenges are faced by those called into ministry. Not only does the devil want to do anything to destroy their ministries, but the Lord seems to allow very high levels of testing to facilitate great growth as He leads His under-shepherds forward in learning to shepherd their flocks.
Are any of us immune from struggles? Not so long as we are alive on this earth. Perhaps pride keeps some of us from telling the truth about our trials. Perhaps something other than pride prevents us from being open. Maybe we have been raised to believe that we are to keep our dirty laundry stuffed under our beds and tucked away tightly in our hearts. But how can we heal when we hold our troubles in the dark? How can we really help others when we act as though we never have challenges of our own?
I cannot speak for anyone else. I can only speak for myself. I was greatly inspired by a friend in ministry whose significant other lost her life to suicide. I was in awe of how my friend handled his journey. Rather than crawl away into a hole during his journey through grief, he opened his heart to the world and shared – and ministered to others – through the whole process. He described his journey through the trenches, allowing those to whom he ministered to hear from start to finish what he had to walk through. Not only did I and others witness the depths of his pain and ultimate healing, but we witnessed the glory of God as the Lord took hold of this man and healed – and transformed – him utterly.
At times, I fall prey to the enemy’s voice telling me I cannot possibly share with one other human – yet again – that I am facing more challenges. But alas, I need only to shut up the voice of the enemy and listen to the voice of the Lord. I do my best to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, to listen and to obey. And if God says speak, or write, no matter how hard it is to speak or write from my heart when life hurts, I do my best to do it anyway. Not merely for myself, nor merely for the person watching, listening, or reading. But, most importantly, I do this for the glory of the Lord.
2Co 12:9 KJV “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Rev 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”