When my associate pastor asked me to teach a class, I gladly agreed. A few weeks later, he sheepishly informed me that the senior pastor had vetoed the topic. I wouldn’t be teaching.
A while later he asked if I would lead a small group. I was happy to. But again the senior pastor vetoed me. At that point, both the associate pastor and I knew what was going on. The senior pastor had told me earlier that he felt threatened having a church consultant in the congregation.
Was my insecure pastor keeping me from having a fruitful ministry?
A ministry partner of many years turned against me, writing emails to my ministry colleagues, to pastors, to my mentors, with the stated purpose of destroying my ministry. Because I didn’t want my situation to become a distraction to my team’s ministry, I offered to resign.
Was my former ministry partner going to kill my ministry?
A few months ago, I became ill and could no longer travel or consult with churches. I didn’t know when or even if I would be able return to a full work schedule.
Was illness going to rob my fruitfulness?
If you’ve been a ministry leader for long, you too have experienced adversity. You may have feared that someone or something might destroy your ministry.
The breakthrough insight that banished my fear came from Jesus’ words in John 15:5: “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit” (NRSV). Jesus doesn’t add, “So long as someone gives you an opportunity.” He doesn’t say, “If no one opposes you.” He doesn’t caution, “So long as you stay healthy.”
The only condition for bearing fruit is abiding: trusting and obeying. No other person, no other circumstance can keep me from bearing fruit. Only I can do that–by failing to abide. Doors may close, the shape of my ministry may change, but so long as I abide, Jesus promises: I will bear fruit.
In the church where I was not allowed to lead, my ministry became one of one-on-one meals with associate pastors and the board chair to listen and encourage. When the church split came, I was strategically positioned to support through the crisis. Eventually, even the senior pastor requested coaching.
When I offered to resign from my ministry team, my colleagues said, “No way!” They believed in me even when my self-confidence was shaken. Their support helped me through a long, dark valley.
As I write this, I am still recovering from my illness. I don’t know what my future holds. But I do know this: if I abide, I will bear fruit.
- Has your ministry been threatened by adversity?
- In adversity, will you choose to focus on abiding (trusting, listening, obeying), and trust God to give the fruit?
© Eddy Hall 2017