It turns out ministry isn’t very easy. Have you noticed? Sure, there are seasons that are fun and fulfilling but then there are the seasons that are not—seasons that are disappointing and painful. If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about.
How do you get through the tough seasons? How do you bring the best version of yourself when a core family gets upset and leaves your church? Or, when giving is declining? Or when everything is going great but your teenager is off the rails? How do you keep it together? How do you move forward? How do you bring your best? I know that for some of you, a tough season like I’m describing is not somewhere out there in the future, but right now. How do you keep moving forward when ministry is really hard?
Recently, I was reading John 13 and the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet before the Last Supper. I was thinking about all that Jesus must have been feeling in those moments. He knew what was ahead of him. He knew that in less than 24 hours, he would be humiliated, tortured and crucified. In addition, he knew that just hours in the future Judas would betray him and all his disciples would abandon him. He would be utterly alone in his time of greatest need.
Jesus and Hardship
Despite all this, Jesus moved forward. He embraced and endured the abandonment, humiliation, torture and death ahead of him. How did he do this? Where did his strength and focus come from? Check out this powerful verse.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God. John 13:3
Jesus knew who he was. He knew that God was his Father, that his Father had sent him, and that he would return to his Father. Jesus knew who he was. This is what empowered Jesus to move toward the cross.
Also, Jesus knew how the story would end. He knew that God had put all things under his power. On the other side of the cross was victory, resurrection, and the defeat of sin and death. Through the cross, Jesus would bring about the restoration of all things. Jesus knew how the story would end and it empowered Him to embrace and endure all that was before him.
Identity and Destiny
Two words that capture these ideas: Identity and Destiny. Jesus knew his identity and he knew his destiny. I believe this is what empowered Jesus to serve his disciples and embrace the cross.
Now, let’s be real. You aren’t Jesus. You’re not the Son of God. It’s not your destiny to save the world by dying on a cross. However, there is something here for you in these two words. Understanding your identity and destiny can empower you to face whatever is before you, whether it’s a tough season in ministry, a cancer diagnosis or a financial crisis.
When you remember that because of Christ, you are loved, forgiven and adopted, when you remember who you are, this knowledge can empower you to face whatever is before you. Similarly, when you know your destiny—how the story ends, that Jesus’ resurrection was a preview of your resurrection, that the gates of hell will never overcome the church, and that there is a day coming when Christ will return and restore all things—this knowledge empowers you to face whatever is before you.
Where do you need to remember your identity and your destiny today? What are you facing?
Whatever it is that is before you, may you remember who you are and how the story ends. And, may this understanding empower you to endure and bring your best to whatever challenges you are facing today.