I respect all preachers in history and across the globe today who suffer for preaching God’s Word. Many of us reading this blog face nothing of the persecution that many preachers have had to endure. Sometimes our biggest struggles seem to be coping with disappointing response in the lives of those listening, or perhaps filtering slightly tactless feedback at the door of the church. But still, even in the ease of our experience, many of us do face something. It is nothing compared to what others may face, but it is something nonetheless.
We face the repeated decision to stand up and preach again. Most preachers can speak about the sense of feeling battered in ministry. There is the work of preparation, the prayerful work of hoped for response, the draining work of giving of yourself, the sometimes tiring work of processing feedback from people oblivious to how vulnerable you may feel at that point. Sometimes this can all add up to a significant level. The combination of personal, spiritual, emotional, relational and physical expenditure, alongside the reality of spiritual warfare, can leave us drained.
What then? What do we do next? Do we give up? Do we quit the ministry? Sometimes that may be a very real temptation for some of us. Do we lay low and pour ourselves into something safer for a while? Do we avoid interaction with people? There are any number of possible responses to ministry drain on a weekly basis.
My thoughts sometimes go back to Jeremiah’s words in chapter 20. He went through it and suffered deeply. He was drained and wiped out and had no natural resource left. Tempted to remain quiet, he could not. Not because he loved preaching. Not because he wanted affirmation (he got none). Not because he needed the income. He could not because “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” He could not because the LORD was with him.
Do you get up and preach again because you love preaching? Or because you need affirmation? Or because of some other self-gripped motive? Or, or do you get up and preach again because God is with you and you cannot keep inside what He has given to you?
Tired? You’re not alone. Let’s press on.