Persevering in Ministry

Run with the Horses

Eugene Peterson wrote a book called Run with the Horses. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, but it continues to encourage me to persevere in ministry.

The book follows the life of Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah was a ministry flop by worldy standards. If the cliché is true, “you can tell a good leader by the number of followers they have”, then Jeremiah was a failure. He preached to the closed ears of a nation. So discouraging was his ministry that he decided to quit. He cursed the day of his own birth and refused to speak. It didn’t work. The word of God became an internal fire and he was unable to hold it in.

Jeremiah had complained and questioned God before, but God’s response wasn’t the most comforting. “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” Jeremiah 12:5

God challenges Jeremiah to greater endurance. He may also have been warning Jeremiah of harder things to come.

Running with Perseverance

Did Jeremiah ever learn to run with the horses?

Absolutely. Jeremiah never achieved success by today’s most popular ministry standards, but he carried his ministry charge faithfully. God asked him to do an impossible task. Jeremiah succeeded, but not by personal talent or charisma. The key to his success was God. The more failure and frustration he experienced the more real his relationship with God became.

We may feel inadequate for the task of ministry. Join the Jeremiah club. When called he gave the excuse, “I do not know how to speak.” How did God overcome Jeremiah’s excuse?

God touched him. “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.’” Jeremiah 1:9 

Equipped and Enabled by God

God continued to touch Jeremiah. Eugene Peterson said it this way. “God does not send us into the dangerous and exacting life of faith because we are qualified, he chooses us in order to qualify us for what he wants us to be and do: ‘I’ve just put my words in your mouth…’” (page 52, Run with the Horses) God gives the words!

God overcame Jeremiah’s inadequacies. Even though Jeremiah was an emotional basket case (he is often called the weeping prophet), his faith in God held fast.

Jeremiah reminds me to trust God even when my emotions are riding a roller coaster. His story also reminds me that it is God who equips and enables us for the task of ministry.

I’ve experienced a fair share of frustrations and failures. Like Jeremiah, I have complaints. Like him I can also get pretty emotional.

His story encourages me though. It encourages me to keep my eyes on God and to live a life of faith even when the circumstances of life or ministry are challenging. Jeremiah’s story reminds me that God is my only constant in life.

Keep the good faith!

If you have any thoughts or would care to share some of your own journey in ministry, I would love to hear from you. Comment below!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

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