Gospel ministry is filled with both great difficulty and great encouragements. When ministers are discouraged, one of the ways that the Lord strengthens them is through the encouragement of other ministers. Along these lines, here are two voices from the past to encourage any ministers out there in the work they are doing:
Charles Bridges (leaning heavily on Daniel Williams):
Admitting, therefore, that we are called to difficult and costly service; yet have we abundant cause to be satisfied with the sustaining support and consolation provided for every emergency. All indeed may be included in the single promise–“Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” ‘The officers he employs in every age’–observes an excellent Minister1 addressing a brother–‘are entitled to this treasure, as well as those of the first age.–Keep your mind’–he added–‘believingly attentive to this ‘always‘–Lo, I am with you, to qualify and succeed you in whatever work I call you to. “Lo, I am with you,” to comfort you by my presence and Spirit, when your hearts are grieved. “Lo, I am with you,” to defend and strengthen you in trials, though all men forsake you. While he stands with you, there can be no just cause of fear or faintness. You need no other encouragement. This you shall never want, if you continue faithful: and hereupon you may conclude–‘The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.'”‘2
The power of the pulpit is said to lie on the wane. Yet learning and eloquence are admitted to be in full play. All kinds of artificial appliances–music, ornament, humor, style, rhetoric, architecture–have been called in to prop up the pulpit and neutralise, or at least minimise, its supposed failure. But as galvanism is not life, so these artificial stimulants leave the failure just where they found it, or rather, somewhat increased by reaction. Such stimulants are a poor substitute for a faded first love, a sad compensation for the Holy Spirit grieved and quenched. They may result in serious evils, greater even than those which they are seeking to cure. At all events, they are not like the divine remedies prescribed for Sardis or Laodicea.
Yet I may say here that the work among the lapsed is not ordinary work. ‘This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.’ It is a work that tries a minister’s faith and strength; and it is not to be done by fits and starts, nor lightly entered upon, as if nay one could undertake it. It is the roughest, sorest work to which we are called, and it needs hardy men, men of no common faith and love. It is border warfare, and it asks for border men. And while every minister of Christ is really set apart for some such warfare, this calls specially for frontier men, picked warriors for the breach…men trained for this special service–not new recruits, but the flower of Christian discipleship, youthful in spirit, yet veterans in experience, men full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, to be launched against the strongholds of the god of this world, now more formidable and more ably manned than ever. Let us own our need of such men, and ask them of Him who alone can raise them up to do service for Christ, to do work, which only such men can do, and to win battles which only such men can win.3
- Here Bridges begins quoting Daniel Williams on the Ministerial Office. The quote continues through the end of the paragraph. [↩]
- Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), 23. [↩]
- Horatius Bonar, Our Ministry: How It Touches the Questions of the Age (Edinburgh, 1883), 74-76, passim, quoted in Horatius Bonar, Christ is All, Profiles in Reformed Spirituality, ed, Michael A. G. Haykin and Darrin R. Brooker (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 45-46. [↩]