It does not matter how long one has been in ministry; we need to continue learning and be subject to correction. Unfortunately, as we move higher in ministry, fewer opportunities occur through which we will be corrected. When we are at the low end of the totem pole and on the bottom of the food chain, everybody loves to correct us. However, as we rise on the food chain, fewer and fewer people correct us. Does this mean we do not need to be corrected? We still need to be corrected, but we have to develop an internal system to monitor our growth so we can correct ourselves.
Each of us has been given a grand privilege to be called to ministry. That privilege entails the following:
• Privilege and Discontent
God gives us a great privilege and after a while, the privilege becomes an expectation. Then when the expectation is not met, it turns into discontent.
In the beginning, each of us was given a wonderful and privileged call to ministry. We were brought on staff, not because we had great theological training, but because someone believed in us. Someone gave us the privilege from the throne of God. His name is Jesus Christ.
However, after a while, we get bothered by what we do not receive. A sense of discontent settles into our spirit. It is not because of anything that is justified, but because of something that is perceived. It may be a perceived injustice.
Think of each person as a sealed container. We all have a capacity for discontent. Capacity does not mean the vessel is full or empty; it is just a vessel. Nobody can pour discontent into a sealed container. Instead, the seeds of discontent lie at the bottom of the container. It could be latent in us; it could be there from our past. It could be in potential form, but the seeds are there. So, if we are discontent, it is something that someone may have triggered or incited. Someone may have gotten these seeds to grow, but discontent is in the sealed container.
We will encounter discontent in ministry, too. Some will be based on pure injustice and a lot of it will be based on perceived in justice. At the beginning, we will not be able to tell the difference between a perceived injustice—which is not a true injustice—or a pure injustice, which is the reality. We may not be able to tell them apart in the beginning, but they are both every bit as destructive, septic and toxic. Even if it is perceived, it can kill you.
• Resilience and Complaint
How do we manage discontent? One way is to complain. We deal with it like a steam vent, letting it out a little bit.
“Nor grumble [complain] as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:10).
When we complain to others, we cause their discontent to rise. They start to shoulder another’s offense. Discontent can destroy a whole church because the level of discontent is managed wrong.
You, too, will come to the limits of your tolerance and you will find yourself unable to function. You have to be able to manage it. So, cry out to God:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit” (Ps. 51:10-12).
The psalmist says create a willing spirit, not a spirit of discontent, because we can be fueled by discontent. If we remove discontent incorrectly, it will come out in offense and bitterness. When we leave, we will still take with us those two things and the wounds they created. It might be subtle, but we will take them with us unless we learn to deal with discontent correctly.
• The Joy Factor
Our vessel also has a capacity for joy.
“… the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).
How we handle trials is important because it is interconnected with our joy. When we start off in ministry, our joy level is high. As time goes on, we experience some problems in ministry. Our discontent begins to increase.
• Biblical Resolution
Take some time every day to pray. Prayer shines a light on our discontent. It will distinguish what is perceived and what is real. When discontent drops, our joy level increases. That is why prayer is critical — not only does it bring honesty, it brings discernment. We can discern truth from error.
We also need courage to reach resolution. We need the courage for the Holy Spirit to shine His light so our containers are transparent. If we are not willing to be transparent, it does not matter how bright the Holy Ghost light is; we will be opaque.
The only way we chance that opacity to transparency is by prayer, learning to appeal to those in authority or someone who can speak into our life, asking God for courage and love.
Love is the last thing needed to reach resolution. Love what God is doing in our lives; love God’s best in our lives. We need love and to love what god is doing so much in our lives that we will be motivated and courageous enough to deal with that.
Somebody has to speak into our life and we have to be open. Then, and only then, will we understand courage and the love that constrains us. We will be able to manage discontent and increase the joy of the Lord.