So often in ministry, we can become weary. I remember a particularly difficult time when the Lord spoke clearly to the weariness of my heart. It was one of those times we will all experience if we are in ministry long enough. The days were so dark and the nights so long, that I once described it as feeling like I was trapped in a Frank Peretti spiritual warfare novel and I couldn’t get out. As I clung to the Lord and His Word, He spoke so clearly to me that my job was to simply believe and trust Him. I didn’t have to “succeed” in ministry; I just had to believe.
If we are communing with the Lord and fulfilling His plan, we may be weary “in” the ministry but we will not become weary “of” the ministry. How do we rise above ministry fatigue and disillusionment to press on to the work of our calling? We look to Jesus. The demands of His ministry were 24/7, but they did not drain Him.
Once, over the course of a couple of extremely busy days, Jesus healed a lame man, taught a large crowd, fed the five thousand, and then walked on water, calming a storm as He entered the disciples’ boat. After this, the disciples immediately and miraculously found themselves on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (John 5–6). The next morning the crowds that He had taught and fed were looking for Him. They were astonished to find Jesus with the disciples and asked Him, Rabbi, when did You get here? (John 6:25)
Jesus responded to them with a rebuke, as He told them they only sought Him because He had fed them. Then, Jesus told them not to work for food that perishes (John 6:27), but instead to work for the food which endures to eternal life. In turn, the people questioned Him and wanted to know how they could do the work of God. Don’t miss the significance of His reply: Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29, NASB, emphasis mine).
This statement by Christ leads us to probe deeper and ask ourselves: Do we believe? Since believing is the work God has called us to, how well are we doing our job? Are we doing the works of God? I am convinced that if I believe, I will do His work. Believing is the beginning of being who God has called me to be. When I am living from that place of “being” then I am changed and obedience will follow. Not only will obedience follow, but also works that only God can accomplish will be done.
How do we believe? Believing is not merely a mental activity; it is the core issue of our hearts. It is in loving God with all of my being (Mark 12:30) that I am transformed, fear is defeated (1 John 4:18), and I am able to believe because faith and fear cannot coexist in the human heart. One will displace the other.
Unbelief is the thief of the peace and significance we have in Christ. Unbelief darkens the mind and leads to a downward spiral of deceit and sin (Romans 1). This downward spiral can spawn discouragement, fear, unforgiveness, shame, guilt, and even depression.
Another assault on our ability to believe is misplaced belief, placing our hope in “second thing desires.” If Christ has preeminence in my life, I will not allow second thing desires to take His place. What are second thing desires? Things like a successful ministry, health, a good marriage, responsible children . . . and the list could go on. When I bring these desires to Christ and seek Him above all, He takes care of every other longing. He is the only legitimate answer to the yearning of my heart. Only the power of the Spirit can enable me to desire Him above all others and above all things.
The joy of the Lord becomes my strength when He is my first and greatest desire. You may fall in bed at night, bone weary, but your heart will be full and you will be satisfied knowing you are doing the work of the Father.
My husband recently purchased a wooden plaque that says, “Pray Big.” I will not pray big or even really pray if I don’t believe. I won’t say “yes” to God if I allow fear and unbelief to crowd out faith.
I have found that one way the Lord takes us to a deeper place is by calling us to something new. My husband and I are now empty-nesters and the Lord has called me into a new ministry that is working to break the poverty cycle in our city through education and the Gospel. There are days when I wake up and find myself wondering how the Lord is going to provide the people, resources, and finances for this work, only to see Him come through and leave my team and me standing in awe. It is then that I remind myself my job is to believe!
I encourage you to ask the Lord to help you believe. As you believe, He will speak to you through His Word and guide you into His will. Cast off the load and burden bearing with which you have allowed the enemy to straddle you, and trust the One Who said, My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:30). He will not fail you.
Do the work of God—BELIEVE!
Donna Gaines is an author, a frequent speaker at women’s events, and is the wife of Steve Gaines, SBC president and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee.