When I talked with my dad about going into the ministry, he told me… “If you can do anything else and be in God’s will… do that.” He also told me, “Make sure God is calling you because sometimes that’s the only thing that will keep you going in ministry.”
I must say that in the time I’ve been a pastor I have found great joy. In fact, the overriding memories I have of each ministry position is extremely positive. Sure there have been some storms and a few minor difficulties… but all in all the good outweighs the bad 90 – 10!
I know what Paul meant… Curtis. Avis. Keith. Thelma. Chuck. Larue and Bonnie. Anthony and Cristy. Roy. Wiley and Irene. Nettie. Ricky and Danny. Along with these there are more people than you can imagine that have been an absolute joy to know as my family in Christ.
I have been given the honor of leading people to Christ… performing marriages… baptizing… officiating at the Lord’s Supper… being asked for counsel during people’s life events… affirming parents as they dedicate their children to The Lord… I’ve watched God grow people in their faith… and above all, I’ve had the joy of proclaiming The Gospel of Jesus Christ week in and week out for years.
Jesus spoke true words when He said… “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” That is where I am living today!
Nothing can compare to the joy of seeing God glorify His name through His people. There is no greater thrill than to be present when God saves a sinner from damnation. There is the greatest elation when you see the light go on in a person’s spirit as God reveals Himself to them. I get a rush when I stand before God’s people and proclaim His Word and Truth to them. It is exciting to be a part of what God is doing to bring Himself glory and redeem the world through His Son!
My personal perspective on the ministry is one of great joy, blessing, and happiness. Even if I were offered much more money… fame… power… and influence, but I would have to leave the ministry, I would turn it down flat. The reason is that nothing else in this world can compare to the joy and peace of knowing I am doing what my Lord Jesus Christ would have me do.
Were an individual to ask me about going into the ministry, I would probably say something like this…
If God is calling you, be ready to get your socks blessed off. Be ready to experience joy like you can’t imagine. Prepare yourself for some of the most wonderful spiritual encounters with God for which you have no point of reference. Put on God’s armour because Satan will come after you… but remember “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Know that you are going to see God do great things. You are going to join a group of people that traces their heritage to before the foundation of the world. You are going to experience things… and be a part of God’s activity in the world… like Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, David, Gideon, Ezekiel, Solomon, Jonah, Isaiah, John The Baptist, Peter, John, and Paul did. Get ready for the ride of your life and enjoy every minute! I know because I’m living it!
I can’t wait to see what God has in store next!
You have just given me the answer to one of my prayers, which was: Please don’t let Pastor Ron get so discouraged that he will give up the ministry. May God continue to bless you with joy in all that you do!
Ron ,wiley and I fasted and prayed on August 4,2008 that God would reveal His will to you.We pray every day for you because we are confident that youwill do His will once you know it.Remember what Gal.6:9 says.There is another scripture that says something to this effect : Ye did run well ,who did hinder you? Could it be our adversary? We love the Ethridge family very much and will continue to pray for you every day. Our love and prayers, Wiley and Irene.
The encouragement and warning is very similar for the believer. The closer we are to God the more intense the blessings and the battle. I love how CS Lewis describes this “We are warriors on the enemies battlefield”. God Bless – He is greater that is in us.
I came across you blog today as I was linking from another blog. Want you to know that we are of kindred spirit. I, too, know the difficulties of ministry. Yet, like you, the joys and the peace that comes from being obedient to God’s call far outweigh the difficulties we encounter.
BTW, I looked at the info about you. Glad to see that you were a NOBTS graduate and a Beeson graduate. I graduated from Delta State in Mississippi, M.Div. from NOBTS, and a D.Min from Beeson. I am now serving in Jonesboro, LA.