Doing Ministry the Hard way nearly Burned Me Out..

I have been blessed by God to serve as a senior pastor of three churches for 47 years. I approached my calling with every part of my earthly being. Yet, 47 years later I discovered that I had taken the hard road. With much of my honest effort to change the lives and could have been more effective and I had approached ministry with balance and support.

I did not understand the role of family and personal health.

I worked diligently to build the church body with the tools at my disposal. I went to conferences, workshops, conventions, and seminary for equipping to do the work. I read books by many different authors on Kingdom work. There was something missing and I had to discover it late in my ministry. That which was missing was a mentor.

Mentoring is important, not only because of the knowledge and skills students can learn from mentors, but also because mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate success in graduate school and beyond. Quality mentoring greatly enhances students’ chances for success.

Elijah’s burnout: What can you learn from Elijah?

Let’s look at the life of one of the most beloved and frequently cited figures from the Old Testament:  The prophet Elijah. If we follow the events that occurred in his life, 1 Kings, 18:4 to 19:18, we could summarize the highlights as follows:

  • First, he faced the wrath and threats of death by Ahab, king of Israel.
  • Elijah challenges Ahab face-to-face and accuses him of being responsible for the loss of the spiritual people of God.
  • Then, he asks for 850 priests of Baal and Astarte to gather against him.  He mocks their failure to obtain a response from their gods.
  • He built an altar to see the fire of the Lord descend from heaven to consume his offering in answer to his prayer.
  • This leads immediately after to a spiritual awakening of all the people of Israel who returned to their Creator.
  • He then destroyed the 850 idolatrous priests.
  • He is reconciled with the king and prophesied that the rain missing for three years will come very soon.
  • He began a marathon of prayer before God at the top of a mountain to advocate for the rain, and once again his prayer is fulfilled.
  • He runs down the mountain supernaturally carried by the power of the Holy Spirit, faster than the king and his chariot at full gallop.

All this happens, in a time period that seems to go from just a day, or at most a few days.  What a report! Who is the servant of God who is not interested in such an account of mission?  What service, what effectiveness for the kingdom of God.  Who would question the fact that Elijah was really, at that time, sent by God?

Yet, our Lord does not just show us the glorious life of his servant’s face, He also introduces us to the other side of the mask and reveals the drama that played at the same time in the heart of the prophet.

Some time later, when Elijah learns of death threats from the queen, his reaction is somewhat surprising.  While he seemed to be at the height of his ministry, confirmed by many miracles, he collapses psychologically and flees at the words of Jezebel.

He becomes unable to control his emotions, becomes depressed, feels sorry for himself, rejects his friends, and is isolated.  He sinks into despair, fear, and eventually wishes for death as a solution to his problems.

What has happened?  Is this the same man?  Elijah acts as if he had lost confidence in his God and the miracles he had seen accomplished had no value.

In my own life I too hit the wall and at that time a mentor could have made a difference in the work. I ask you to search this website for ways that I might come along side your work and help you not hit the wall. God does not require you to do the work alone.

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