The longer you lead, the more susceptible you may be to discouragement, cynicism and bitterness. Losing in the ministry battle hurts. It’s hard when evil prevails.
No matter how hard we preach, teach, and counsel — some people still make horrible choices that destroy relationships, families and churches.
No matter how much we strategize, sinful people sometimes undermine our best efforts.
Political systems, governing authorities and corporate practices can all conspire against spiritual progress. When these forces align, it’s tough to keep going.
When a ministry organization loses money or people or influence because of unjust practices, it’s easy to just give up. Why try when the deck seems stacked against us?
To press on, we must maintain faith in God’s promises and strive for the best, believing God’s ways produce positive results.
The only problem is, sometimes they don’t — in the short run.
That admission may be shocking. As a hopeful Christian leader, you might expect me to claim otherwise.
The fact is God’s people are sometimes thwarted, not just in their lifetimes but for several generations (remember 400 years of slavery in Egypt?).
Spiritual forces, evil people and imperfect institutions conspire to produce this grim reality.
‘Justice is coming’
Hope is lost when we focus too much on present realities. God promises to make all things right at the end — at the end of time, not at the end our project, ministry career, or lifetime. Justice is coming.
God’s ways will prevail. God’s work will be established. Righteousness will reign. Every unfair outcome will be reversed. Every persecuted Christian will be justified.
When Jesus returns all things will be made right. Not before, not necessarily in your lifetime, and certainly not on your timetable.
Accepting the challenge
Part of your leadership challenge is maintaining hope.
Being hopeful isn’t the same as practicing a high level of spiritual denial. Hope takes the pain and problems of our world seriously, admitting the worst of them.
Hope also admits, in the short run, God’s people will be abused and His work stymied. Hope begins with honesty about life as it is, not as we wish it would be.
Hope, however, is not overwhelmed by these immediate realities.
Hope results from a fixation on the future — not the future new year, but the future return of Jesus Christ.
So, start 2024 with hope — not an emotional high, but true hope for better times fixed on the only source or real hope.
Fix your hope on Jesus, His supervision of your present circumstances, and your confidence in His sure return.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Jeff Iorg and originally published by the Gateway.