In the past three months, the Church I lead has grown by over 20 people in average weekly attendance. It has been a time of excitement as we see many new people coming every week. This has also been accompanied by a season of spiritual growth. People are attending small groups, I am counseling several people, and weekly I hear stories of life change as people trust Jesus more completely. Wonderful things are happening around this Church, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
The interesting side note to this story is my own personal issues. The past three months have been very hard on my emotionally. With my father’s death, I have struggled weekly with the weight of loss. Each week I seem to have a moment where I break down at my desk and start crying. His importance to my life and my relationship with him molded and shaped me as a man. It really hurts to say goodbye for now. The result of this personal struggle has been less time and emotion invested in sermons than I typically give each one. Few of my sermons during this period have “felt” right to me. I definitely would not call this my best season of ministry. Yet, during this time the Church has grown.
Yesterday I looked out the window thinking about my life and ministry, and a couple of verses of scripture came to mind very clearly. The Apostle Paul wrote the Church in the city of Corinth, and he was speaking of his ministry. In chapter 11 he tells of all the things he has suffered for the gospel. At the end of the section he pens these words in 2 Corinthians 11:30 “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
In the next chapter, he writes about this “thorn in the flesh” and how it hindered his ministry and then he adds this secondary thought. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The Apostle Paul saw his weakness, not as a place of shame rather a place where God’s strength could work.
This year has not been my best performance as a minister, and I am okay with that. In fact, I will boast about it, because in my toughest season of ministry God’s power has been doing amazing things. Whenever I feel like I do not have the power to get through another week, God shows up and does his work. The glorious truth is that the God I serve is greater than I am and how I feel at any given time.
This truth is not just for the minister but for all of us. When you feel like you do not have the strength to do the tasks that lie ahead, God meets you there to do more than you ever imagined. Most of us shy away from our weaknesses, and God says that at those moments is where his power is its greatest.
Keep working and serving, and God will take your feeble efforts and mine and couple them with his power to do more than we ever dreamed. Just remember, give him the glory in return.