I ran across this article by Oswald Chambers over the weekend; it was originally published in Mr. Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost For His Highest. (Definitely a book I highly recommend, by the way!)
As a pastor’s wife, this little passage convicted me so much. At 29 years of age, I’m certainly still a little “green” when it comes to ministry experience; but even in my few years of living I’ve watched many preachers or their wives become disillusioned with ministry. Some grow bitter; some even leave the ministry all together, harboring deep wounds and disappointment.
I grew up as the daughter of a pastor. I am married to a pastor. I’m fully aware that ministry is not easy. Humanly speaking, it’s easy to burn out, to give up, to grow discouraged, to write people off.
If you’re the wife of a minister- or a young woman preparing to be the wife of a pastor, missionary, or evangelist- please read on. Oswald Chambers offers a perspective on ministry that you won’t find popular or even easy to swallow… but, if applied, it might just make all the difference in the world as to whether or not you thrive in whatever place God calls (or has called) you to serve.
Paul’s idea of service is the same as Our Lord’s: “I am among you as He that serveth;” “ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We have the idea that a man called to the ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the “door-mat” of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior.
“I know how to be abased,” says Paul. This is Paul’s idea of service – “I will spend myself to the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or give me blame, it will make no difference.” So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.
The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
Paul’s realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. “I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person” – no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ.
When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.
Let me close with a beautiful quote from Elisabeth Elliot, wife of the late missionary Jim Elliot:
“Do you often feel like parched ground, unable to produce anything worthwhile?
I do. When I am in need of refreshment, it isn’t easy to think of the needs of others. But I have found that if, instead of praying for my own comfort and satisfaction, I ask the Lord to enable me to give to others, an amazing thing often happens – I find my own needs wonderfully met. Refreshment comes in ways I would never have thought of, both for others, and then, incidentally, for myself.”