Do you ever find yourself losing your joy in ministry? I mean, all the commitments, obligations, responsibilities, problems and unnecessary distractions become so overwhelming that you just slam the study door, turn off the lights, fall flat on your face on the carpet (if you are blessed enough to have carpet!) and cry out to God, “I just can’t do this myself! I am tired, I am mentally fatigued, my strength has failed e’re the day is half done”…..you know what I mean.
You wake up in the morning (if you can get to sleep at night) with “faces” on your mind! You start to read your Bible and every verse relates to the problems of the day before. You begin praying and your mind wanders to the last deacon’s meeting, or church business meeting, or that confrontational encounter that must be made before the day is over. Or maybe, you have a half dozen phone calls to return, a dozen e-mails to answer, a couple of important meetings, two or three committee assignments to prepare for, make hospital calls, visit a dying member in a nursing home who wants only to see the pastor, prepare the Sunday bulletin, get ready to preach twice on the Lord’s Day, teach Sunday school and a midweek service. Oh, yes, the kids have a ball game and a school concert that you also have to work in somewhere! You take a deep sigh, look over your desk into outer space, and ponder,“I just don’t have strength to keep up,” and the forlorn look upon your face reads as boldly as the headlines of the daily newspaper, “Robbers Steal Joy – Victim Left without Strength!”
So, what is the answer? I don’t mean to be trite but Nehemiah 8:10 does state that “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” When the “joy robbers” of life overtake us it diminishes our strength. Though I haven’t always followed it, soon after I became a Christian, I was taught the “Joy Rule” for daily living – you remember it: JOY = Jesus, Others, You! That order is very important. We must seek joy in what we can give, not in what we can get, or what “gets” us! When “people” rob us of our joy we need to remember what Lincoln said, “The best thing you can do with an enemy is make him your friend!” When “things” get us down, we need to remember what Helen Keller practiced, “Join the great company of those who make the barren places of life fruitful with kindness. Carry a vision of heaven in your hearts. Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulty.”
The only way to get sufficient strength for life and ministry is to be determined not to allow the “joy robbers” to invade our hearts and minds. Strive to be filled with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). Bring Christ into our world EARLY each day! Keep Him there THROUGHOUT the day! Meditate upon Him as we close our eyes at END of day.
Friend, we are engaged in the service of the King. Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God! Joy is the royal standard floating from the flagstaff of the heart, telling our families, our friends, our flock, that the King is IN RESIDENCE! Don’t let the “joy robbers” take that away from you. They are definitely not on our team!
–Maynard H. Belt