I entered the ministry with my eyes wide open. Two great-grandfathers were preachersone a circuit rider, the other a lay preacher. Both grandfathers were preachers. My father is a preacher. My uncle Charles rings the bell on occasion. Three other uncles, four cousins, and three in-laws lived the preacher's life. So I can't say I didn't know what I was getting into when I accepted the call to ministry.
I understood from day one that preachers have a responsibility to be "up." If you're negative, go work for The Weather Channel. If your favorite book in the Bible is Lamentations, then you need to be a bill collector. Nobody wants to come to church on Sunday and listen to a pastoral catharsis. We have a responsibility to be up.
For the most part, I have enjoyed pastoral work very much and have dearly loved the preaching ministry. But there have been dark daysdays when I didn't think I could cut it any longer, days I wanted to chuck it, days when discouragement dogged my heels and clouds rolled in on the horizon. I asked myself, Am I in the right place? Is this the right time? Am I on the right track? Do I know what I'm doing? Am I the right preacher?
Discouragement comes to us all, and more often than not, it comes on the heels of our greatest victories. Elijah on Mount Carmel was all blood, fire, and rain on Sunday, but Jezebel made an appointment first thing Monday morning.
This was a shock to me when I entered the ministry. Jezebel is a church-going woman. You've preached one of those Sundays when you were on. The soundman was even listening. But Jezebel was waiting for you in the lobby, and she had a three-page critique of your sermon. She sucked all the life and glory and power and joy out of what ...
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