This week I have been thinking about my time in ministry. I have been a paid Church leader for twenty-five years now. Through those years my understanding of scripture has increased in many ways.
Some of my knowledge has grown through simple reading. I have now made numerous trips through the pages of the Bible, and my overall familiarity has expanded.
Some of my insight has come through study. I have spent hours digging deeper into the context of passages along with the historical background. I have read books written by scholars and deep thinkers explaining the theology of God.
The final way I have grown in my knowledge of the Bible is through experience. I now understand passages about being a husband and a father. Sections about Church leadership make more sense to me after having worked a lifetime with those leaders.
The one passage that eluded me in those early years is a line from the Apostle Paul to the Church in the city of Corinth in his second letter. He tells the Church about all the struggles he has experienced in his life. He has been beaten, known danger and even been shipwrecked. Then he says, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).
Paul includes in his list of struggles as a Church leader the pressure of his concern for the Church. The words imply he worried about the people in the Churches he had established. He cared about the people who needed to find Jesus. He was concerned about them accepting Jesus as their Savior. He spent hours praying they would grow in the Lord. He wanted to see them mature in their faith and become like Christ. He planned and prepared ways for people to serve the Lord and their fellow-man. He felt this overwhelming pressure both day and night to help the people he knew to become the people of God.
After twenty-five years I know the pressure of which he speaks. I worry about the people I lead and serve. They are on my mind both day and night. I pray for them, I think of them, and I hope they experience abundant life in Christ. I feel the pressure of being a Church leader, and I don’t regret a day of it. I believe eternity hangs in the balance and everyone who is saved is worth every ounce of energy.