I didn’t sign up for this. When I first got involved in ministry, in serving God for His glory and fame in the world through the local church, I forgot one crucial element of ministry: people. What is it, more than anything else, which causes distractions and problems in a church? People. Who gets offended or causes division? People. Who are the sources of constant woes and heartache and turmoil? People! It seems that when I thought about ‘ministry’, I was thinking about the glory of my gifting : how well I could communicate, how I could explain Biblical truth, how hard I could work or serve or how talented I was as a musician, writer, or athlete. What I had missed was what ministry was all about: people!
Ministers who focus on the glory of their gifting miss out on one of the greatest blessings of serving Christ: the glory of inconvenience. Think of what Jesus’s public ministry looked like. He was constantly pulled away from the task God had given Him by needy people. What most of us fail to realize is that this was the task God had given Him! Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. His ultimate purpose was to lay down His life as the sacrifice for our sins, to save us. This mission played out by saving people from temporal pain, suffering, demonic possession, ignorance, and hunger. Jesus said in John 17:4, “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do”. Jesus prayed this before even going to the cross. Jesus was referring to the pre-cross ministry of teaching, healing, forgiving, and ministering to people’s needs. And it brought God glory because peppered through His ministry was the glory of inconvenience.
Inevitably as a Christ-follower and fellow minister of the gospel of grace, you will face inconvenience. Though we certainly are inconvenienced by common hassles like spending our time, money, energies, efforts, talents, and goals for Christ, the most prevalent difficulty is: people! People require grace, love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. People need our longsuffering, discipline, explanation, instruction, rebukes, attention, sympathy, and listening ears. We get frustrated when someone interrupts our schedule, our goals, or our comfort. The reality is that these people are not interruptions or inconveniences to ministry; they are the ministry!
Pastor Don McClure recently mentioned that when we feel people are “in the way” we fail to realize that God doesn’t see them as that. People are the way. So people aren’t getting in the way of something you have to do, they are the way, the focus, the priority, the reason we do what we do.
Paul explained the glory of inconvenience in 2 Corinthians 11. Among the difficulties and disturbances he faced, he was constantly moving, facing trouble in every neighborhood he ventured into, losing sleep, going without meals, heat, and even his dry cleaning! He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. Moreover, he was constantly concerned for the people God had brought into his life. His final analysis is that though we are weak in Him, “yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you” (2 Corinthians 13:4). May that be our prayer no matter how difficult the glory of inconvenience becomes—that we are, by God’s power, living with Him to serve others.