False beliefs about ministry

We can't progress in ministry because everything keeps changing





During his ministry times changed a great deal. 



Constantly changing

Most people love a good romance. Two lovely young things with all their hopes and dreams before them setting out on life together. Perhaps in a good story there will be difficulties on the way but we like everything to turn out well and to be left with a happy ever after feeling.

God loves a good romance too and the book of Hosea is a tale of a lover and a straying beloved whom he longs to return to his arms. Just to make sure we don’t miss the point of the feelings involved between God—the lover, and the nation of Israel—the straying beloved, he calls a man to live out the story in parallel.

The man is Hosea, an 8th century bc man born in the Northern Kingdom, living in the last decades before Israel was overcome and taken into exile. His wife, Gomer, was a prostitute whom he loved and he longed for her to belong only to him, but she turned for her provision to her adulterous ways, trusting in others for her material needs and care. Loving her dearly, Hosea eventually bought her back, at great cost to himself, just as God bought back His people.

There are many points of learning and basic truths in this book for every Christian but I want to draw out one today which many in ministry identify with, that of circumstances which are constantly changing around you and appear to frustrate any progress which you may wish to see.

Let’s look at Hosea’s circumstances some more.

Shifting landscape

The opening verses of many of the minor prophets set the time and place of the teachings. Hosea gives us the names of the kings of both the Northern and Southern Kingdom. Kings during whose reigns he worked. There are several. During his ministry times changed nationally, rulers came and went and the landscape, most particularly politically, changed a great deal. So how does Hosea’s calling and ministry sit in this ever shifting landscape?


Ministry goes on

We don’t know anything about Hosea outside of his book but he seems to be commentating on the nation’s situation as an outsider from the political and royal circles which were in such turmoil throughout the 38 years or so that Hosea prophesied. Added to this, his own life had plenty of turmoil of it’s own. He married his prostituting wife, has three children with her, then, with his children, drove her away to seek her reform. He continued to love her and brought her back a while later and kept her out of prostitution. All the while God is commentating through his story on the story of Israel—his ministry went on. The ministry of Hosea contained much personal cost and heart ache as well as his living in unstable and dangerous political circumstances.

It was for God to worry about who did the hearing and whether it was received or not.

Called to serve God

The fact is his calling was to God not to the people. It wasn’t his main purpose to get pally with the leaders of the day and point out the errors of their ways only to be frustrated as another king got the chop and he had to begin again. What he was called to do was speak out God’s word as it was given him and it was for God to worry about who did the hearing and whether it was received or not. He was speaking out God’s love and contrasting that to the love and loyalty of God’s chosen people.

God has a role

And so it is with our ministry. The call is to “stand in the gap” ministering to people on God’s behalf in whatever sphere you are called to. Let God do the worrying about the “listeners”, the “receivers”. Keep your eyes on His big picture, following and obeying God’s call. It may well be that people you have been working with get moved on or relationships you were building fizzle out. It maybe that you yourself move away and you have to “start again”.

My experience

My husband and I have been married for fourteen years and have lived in five different homes in that time. I know of some people in ministry who have moved even more often. Then there are those with itinerant ministry and frequent travel to far away venues. With the type of ministry we are called to I have always longed to settle and to be able to grow in the work as the years cause relationships to lengthen and deepen. To minister to people in the ups and downs of their lives and to see the outworking and long term development following specific moments of special ministry. Things always seem to be changing and developing a deep rooted ministry, as I see it with my eyes, has not, so far, been possible. But God has a plan. I confess I am often completely unaware of many of the little things that go on on a daily basis. Sometimes God shows me more, sometimes He gives me a supernatural understanding of someone’s circumstances or the big picture, but for the most part I have to go on prayerfully trusting that God will make it all work out for the good just as he promises.

God’s road may have unexpected twists and turns but they are all necessary, not hindrances.

The heavenly road

When we give over the ministry into God’s hands and refuse to construct solid, unbreakable plans we can leave behind frustrations that things did not work out as we thought. There is no frustration that we did not get anywhere because we headed along the heavenly road not a cul-de-sac of our own making—dead ends are where the frustration lies. God’s road may have unexpected twists and turns but they are all necessary, not hindrances.

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.