Today’s memory work had me in 1 Timothy. It is a book I learned almost 20 years ago and have been reciting every since. As I recited it this morning, I stopped at this statement in 1:12:
I suppose the reason this caught my attention is I was still thinking about yesterday’s revelation. I was still contemplating the fact that ministry inevitably brings rejection, that painful rejection is the cost of doing ministry. It is a fact I’ve come to terms with (as I described yesterday) but not one I’ve come to enjoy; I can deal with this but I don’t think I can embrace it.
Yet here was Paul saying he thanked Jesus for appointing him into His service. Here was Paul saying He was grateful God brought him into ministry. Paul was rejected because of the ministry he did; his authority was questioned and his teaching ability was criticized and his sincerity was challenged by those both inside and outside the church (see Acts 17:18 and 2 Corinthians 10:10 for just two of many examples of this). Not only so, but Paul was beaten and imprisoned and subjected to all sorts of sufferings because of the ministry he did (see 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 and 11:23-33 for a partial record of Paul’s sufferings). Paul was ultimately martyred because of his ministry (see 2 Timothy 4:6, or watch the following clip which I was shown as a child and which has always inspired me.)
Paul experienced some of the unpleasant things I have experienced in ministry, albeit to a greatly enhanced degree, and he experienced other, even more unpleasant things in ministry that I hope to never experience. Yet he was thankful to be involved in that ministry. I’m not sure he was thankful for the unpleasant things themselves; I wouldn’t be offended if he wasn’t as not appreciating such things/wanting to avoid such things is normal but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was as he saw life and the Kingdom economy so much better than I did. But he was thankful for the ministry which included these things. He was thankful that he had been included in the ministry whose price was these things.
And I can likewise be thankful for being included in that ministry as well. I am, in fact. I wasn’t hating ministry as I read these Scriptures this morning. I’m not sure I’ve ever hated ministry or even seriously considered leaving it. Nonetheless, I was challenged by Pauls’ good attitude toward ministry, sufferings and all. I was encouraged to be even more thankful for being included in ministry than I already am and to be more willing to accept the negative costs of doing that ministry in a better spirit.
And that’s what I saw on October 31, 2019.