Sometimes in ministry, I find myself growing a little callous. I’ve been to one too many meetings that ran too long and accomplished too little. I’ve seen the ugliness of Christian brothers and sisters treating each other with less than kindness, less than love. I’ve born witness, one too many times, to committees that seemed to be more committed to any number of things other than the Gospel. I’ve simply run too far, too long, at too hard a pace and my heart has grown tough. I find myself approaching some of my duties with an eyebrow arched in antipathy; with a heart that is closed to the call of Christ and the moving of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes this is a widespread feeling, applied to my ministry in general. Usually, that heralds the arrival of vacation time. When it is widespread like that, it is my spirit begging for some downtime, rest being the sure path to renewal.
But sometimes this is a focussed feeling – one that applies to a certain duty or a certain area of ministry.
What amazes me, and affirms my faith in the overwhelming grace and mercy of God, is that when I get to this place in which I am moaning about a certain duty, I am met with a deep well of that mercy and grace. Think about it. I am grinding my teeth, dragging my feet, generally bad of attitude and small of heart as I go about what God has set before me as a task. God would not be amiss to give me exactly what I am expecting: disappointment, discouragement an more of the same-old, same-old. Instead, God in His infinite goodness, blesses me in the midst of that grumbled-about duty.
I go to a meeting that I am not looking forward to, and instead of finding it a time that causes me to grow further callouses, I find myself refreshed and renewed. I go to lead a group that has been struggling, and I find myself and my ministry affirmed. I attend an event that I am approaching with trepidation, and God meets me there with a message that my heart has been longing to hear.
God is good.
Callouses happen. Life rubs you in the wrong way. Ministry chafes. Routine grinds against the spirit. Callouses form.
But may you (and may I!) always be open to the grace and mercy of God as it surprises us in places and situations where it was not looked-for. May the Holy Spirit be with you (and me!), continually, shaving off those callouses through moments of undeniably generous blessing. May we meet Christ as we walk along the road and find our hearts transformed from small, cold lumps into living, beating, burning embers that spark at the sound of His voice.