When thinking about overcoming discouragement in ministry, I think back to my years in active children’s ministry. I am reminded of the time one of my prayer team let me know of the prayers she had been praying (if you don’t have a team of people praying for you, you should).
She said that every time she prayed for me and my family, God showed her a picture explaining visually what is going on in the spiritual realm. She proceeded to describe a large gate, with swinging doors. My wife and I were standing at the gate greeting large groups of children as they approached and passed through the gate.
I’ll stop for a moment to let you know that at that time, my family had been under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. Some was due to life, much of it was due to spiritual attacks. (Be aware that if you aren’t successful in overcoming discouragement in ministry, it can lead to depression in ministry).
So our friend continued explaining what God showed her. As we were standing and welcoming the children through the gate, the doors of the gate were beginning to close. My wife and I were trying to hold the doors open to allow the children through, but it became increasingly difficult to keep the gate open.
The gate was difficult to keep open because the devil was trying to shut it. The gate represented our ministry. As God works through us, lives are changed, and children comtinue coming through the gate, impacted by Jesus’ life changing power. If the devil is permitted to close the gate, he would succeed at hindering a large group of the younger generation from knowing God.
You have a gate
That makes sense. If he can stop me, all of the lives I would normally be able to impact would not change. You also have a gate. As those children are coming through your ministry, the enemy will try to close your gate, or shut you down. Then he doesn’t have to worry about the children coming through your gate. He spends his time wisely, and instead of trying to stop all the children he will try to stop you.
As you become more effective in your ministry, the enemy will come at you harder. His goal is you shut you down.
1 Peter 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Keep in mind the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and then unjustly imprisoned. He had a rough few years, but then came a time when God gave him favor with Pharaoh and he was placed in charge of Egypt. He spoke these words to his brothers:
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
God still brought good things from all of Joseph’s bad experiences. He can also do the same for you and I.
2 Cor 4:1 through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
My prayer for you is that you do not lose heart. That you would continue to stand strong. That you would stand at your gate and keep the doors open, and welcome the children through the gate.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. I Cor 16:13
What does your gate look like? Have you had a hard time standing at your gate? How do you keep your gate open? How do you keep overcoming discouragement in ministry?