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The Hardships of Christian Ministry

The president of the seminary I attended often said, to the men preparing for ministry, "Your hardest day in seminary will be easier than your easiest day in the ministry." While this may not be true without exception, it is certainly the case generally speaking. The apostle Paul told young Timothy-as he began his ministry--that he would have to "endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Murray frequently said to the men coming for ordination, "If there is anything else you can do, you should do it." Interestingly this is precisely what John Brown of Edinburgh wrote in his Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians. When he came to chapter 4 (where the apostle Paul is pouring his heart out to the churches which he had planted, and which were now rejecting the Gospel he had preached to them), Brown wrote:

The Christian ministry, if entered on with appropriate sentiments, and prosecuted with conscientious fidelity, will be found replete with difficulties. Its toils are arduous and unceasing— its trials numerous and severe. He who would " war this good warfare" must "endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." The man who assumes the sacred character of a minister of Christ, with the honest intention of performing its duties (and he who resumes it without such an intention will find, in the ultimate result of things, that he had better have chosen any other profession) must lay his account with submitting to labours often ill-appreciated, sometimes unkindly requited, and with meeting with trials and afflictions which are the more severe as coming from a quarter from which nothing but support and encouragement had been expected.1

If there was only one piece of advice I could give to every other young man preparing for the Gospel ministry it would be the Apostle Paul's sentiments in 2 Timothy 2:1-10. We must enter the ministry knowing that difficulties, trials and tribulations await us. Ministers must fill the office with "the honest intention of performing its duties;" but they must have the sober realization that their work will often be  "ill-appreciated, sometimes unkindly requited, and will meet with trials and afflictions." These hardships will be more hurtful and difficult when they come from those from whom "support and encouragement had been expected." Our Lord Jesus endured the greatest suffering (Heb. 12:1-4) in fulfilling His calling as the great Apostle and High Priest of our confession. The apostle Paul went through these difficulties, as a bondservant of Jesus Christ, when the churches he had planted rejected him. Timothy was told that he would go through them--and he did when the people despised his youth. Nevertheless, the Christian minister must "endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10). Brown, John An Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853) p. 218

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