Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Don't Get Bitter"

When you speak a courageous and prophetic word, don't whine about the inevitable consequences. There is nothing more pathetic than a whimpering prophet. Getting hurt in ministry is not merely one of the hazards of the trade. It is inevitable. More than inevitable, getting hurt is often the central means through which the very best ministry gets done. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said, "the man who has not suffered, what does he know anyway?" If you don't love people enough for them to hurt you really bad, you probably don't love them enough to do them much good. Remember that a God-man screamed out one dark afternoon, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" And more ministry was accomplished in those brief moments than in all the millennia before or since.


Blogger Mick Porter said...

Ouch! Great quote :)

6:02 AM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger jeff said...

Thanks for this link. I've used it on my blog.

7:56 AM, March 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a powerful punchline.
It seems to me that the first obstacle to ministry is the inertia of our own wills. Once through that barrier, we assume that the body of Christ will be SO thankful and appreciative of our efforts - after all, the need had gone unanswered for so long. Finally, someone stepped up: "C'est moi!" (if you get the Camelot allusion).
Then comes the shock that there are some who say we're doing it wrong, or not enough, or too much, or something. They think it should be done the way they would do it, if they were to do it (not that they're volunteering, mind you).
We never saw it coming, even though we had once been among the ranks of the critics ourselves. I remember taking notes from church sermons during my seminary days, the end product resembling more of a scorecard than a church bulletin. I was a fair sermon reviewer, I supposed, including things the preacher did well, as well as his mistakes, but I am so thankful that my "notes" never fell under the eyes of the preacher. It probably would have been very discouraging to a good man who had a much higher purpose in mind than to present a well-crafted sermon that would meet the approval of an all-hat-no-cattle Texas seminary student.
On the other hand, I'm sure that he had long before endured that inevitable rite of passage into ministry that comes from the bleating of the sheep, and loving them and shepherding them anyway.

12:38 PM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Mick and Jeff: Glad you found it helpful.

1:14 PM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for sharing your own experiences, Chris, and the light they shed on the post at hand. And I like the "C'est moi!" allusion.

I once knew a minister who left seminary and spent ten years in a wealthy West Knoxville church before coming to the realization, "Not everybody loves me!" I think he would say that moment was a big step in beginning to do more authentic ministry.

1:18 PM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Pilgrim feet said...


Ahh, but it's so much better when they get it and respond. Isn't it? What I find today is that ministry is about those we minster to and not about us.

Who cares about who loves who? If you are teaching and preaching the Word, the results are up to Him.

Quite frankly, it's about what people think of God and not us. He loves us and them "the same".

As long as our ministry is about Him and them, and it's done according to His Word, then we can expect "Well done thou good and faithful servant".

Better to get better than bitter, aye?


3:43 PM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Yes, indeed.

3:47 PM, March 23, 2006  

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