Recently, a friend and business-owner in my accountability group was experiencing frustrations in his work. The severe challenges and betrayals he was facing made him wonder if it was even worth it to keep going.  How could intense struggling with work and people be all part of God’s plan for him. Although I am not a business-owner, I could relate.  In fact, I think all of us can. So, I shared with him a few thoughts “from a ministry leader.”  Perhaps they will be helpful to you too.  The simple truth is that everybody has these difficult seasons in their work.  And, all work brings glory to God.

My work is in “ministry” and just like my CEO friend there have been so many occasions when I have asked the Lord: why me? Why this, is this really worth the trouble? Is this really God’s plan when the work seems to be pulling me and my team down rather than moving us forward?  These questions are true for all of us in particular seasons whether we are a factory worker, a pastor, or a politician. It is part of living in a fallen world wherever God has placed you. I have four words of advice for these kinds of days.

Our mandate is to live for God’s glory today.

Days like these remind me of my grandfather. My grandfather, a life-long pastor of a small church put himself through seminary during the Great Depression, by going to school four days, working three jobs Friday through Sunday with almost no sleep, and then going back to school again Monday morning. He served God with that kind of commitment for the rest of his life. I remember asking him how he knew God’s will for his life.  He would say, “Do you know what God wants of you today?  Do that with your whole heart. Then add up those days and at the end, that will be God’s plan.”

As long as you have been living how God wants you to in the trials of that day, day-by-day lived before the Lord over the years, you are firmly in his plan. This is true in business just as much as it is with me taking the gospel to Africa through Oasis International.

This is normal.

Facing challenges, betrayals and obstacles is the normal Christian life. Currently, there is a ministry I know of that is facing tough times. They have a broken relationship with their most important ministry partners that seems unfixable.  A partner they have poured their time, their resources, even their lives into is walking away with a large unpaid debt. They have been friends and co-workers for decades, but recent arguments and attitudes have been unfriendly and, dare I say, un-Christian-like.

As Christians, we should not be surprised when we are persecuted, falsely accused, and taken advantage of in our work and even in our ministry. Our job is to respond with grace and look to God as our defender. He knows and he cares.

It isn’t ours.

My next advice to my friend was to remember that nobody has cheated you. Even if we are the  “owner, ” just like a ministry leader, in reality he is only a steward of “his” business. The business belongs to God. The business is not your provider, your provider is God. If it is his, you can hold it lightly. I have been there many times in ministry and after I pray and wrestle with the facts it is possible to surrender it to God. I find that every so often, I need to surrender our ministry again and confirm to God in prayer that it is fully his.

People are eternal.

Business problems are difficult but temporal, but you are responding to the problem in front of people who are eternal. How you love the people is what is of primary importance, the success of work you do is secondary.  Look to Christ to bring the result to his business and you work in way that shows the image of Christ in you to encourage and transform the people God loves, that are in your care.

–By Dr Matthew A. Elliott, President, Oasis International

African Touch Points from 2 Timothy 3:12 of the Africa Study Bible

Prepare for trials

Augustine (AD 354-430), a well-known leader of the early church whose writings are often still read today, was born in what is today Algeria. He wrote:

What sort of preachers are afraid to offend the people to whom they are speaking? They do not prepare their listeners for the trials that are looming ahead. Sometimes they even promise their listeners’ well-being in this world that God himself has not promised.

Instead, God says that distress upon distress will come upon the world right up to the end. God says that Christians will not be exempt from these distresses. In fact, Christians are going to suffer more in this world because they are Christians.

Click here to learn more about Dr Matthew A. Elliott

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