Showing up in both the joyous and the ugly

Just show up.

Ministry life can be joyous. We have the privilege of being present at the start of marriages, the births and adoptions of children, and as new believers are welcomed into the family of God. Those moments mark the highs of our ministry lives, and we float on clouds for days after.

These are the days that it is easy to show up, to do the work of our callings. These are the days we find it easy to prepare one more lesson, practice one more song, even clean one more church bathroom. We know that our work matters.

Just show up.

Ministry life can also be difficult. We sit with grieving families. We minister in hospitals and funeral homes. We help bury children and grandparents alike. We listen carefully as friends get a poor prognosis. We ache with those facing infertility. We help shoulder the loss of divorce and abandonment. We plan meals, clean houses, babysit, listen, weep, and mourn.

These kinds of days are difficult, but we still see how our work matters. We can show up to pray, give comfort, reassure, and offer practical help. We can mobilize our churches to be the body of Christ to other members, and we see the results. God is glorified in struggle, and we praise Him.

Just show up.

And then there are the other days. The days that we are betrayed, belittled, treated as the hired help, and trampled on. The days our children are treated badly by our church members. The terrible business meeting or deacons meeting. The days we wonder how we can ever call ourselves the body of Christ when we look more like a dysfunctional country club.

How do we keep showing up when things get ugly, and when our very best efforts seem futile?

Paul tells us how in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God’s grace is the key to showing up in ministry under difficult circumstances. God knows about whatever situation you are facing today. He knows when you don’t feel like facing that one church member, attending another meeting, or showing mercy to the unmerciful. And yet this is the ministry that He has entrusted to you for today. If He is asking you to stay where you are, then He is asking you, in the power of His grace, to keep showing up. To continue in the ministry that He has given you, even when it seems like no one cares.

Just show up.

God is with you, and He will make you strong.

Published May 19, 2016