21st Century Ministry and 2 Corinthians (Part 2)

Don’t miss the four realities of ministry listed below.2corinthians2.gif

Every would-be minister, pastor, church planter, missionary, or church leader ought to read 2 Corinthians.

Why? In this wonderful epistle, we have the opportunity to look over Paul’s shoulder in his most autobiographical book. We can learn much about ministry by observing this apostle as speaks to these people about his ministry and his relationship with them.

Ministry is tough. Don’t let any one tell you any differently. Now admittedly, what I have just said may baffle some. Some may perceive of ministry as simply the work of a career minister. Some look at ministry as simply one more career choice. “I thought about being a doctor, a lawyer, or a CPA. In the end, I decided to be a minister. i’ve always liked public speaking and leadership.” There is something about this approach that seems to have lost any sense of a calling.   

I want to first emphasize that all believers in the body of Christ are called to ministry. We are both gifted and empowered by the Spirit for ministry. Yes, there are some who may be called to lead, preach, teach, etc. in a congregation. There are certain leadership gifts and roles within the body of Christ. Maybe we should examine our own expectations regarding these roles.

Paul describes some of his experiences in this opening chapter:

  • Suffering (1:5-6)
  • Distress (1:6)
  • Hardships (1:8)
  • Under great pressure (1:8)
  • Despaired of life (1:8)
  • Felt the sentence of death (1:9)
  • Deadly peril (1:10)

Now do these words describe every ministry? No. Yet, something is wrong when we act as if we should somehow be exempt from discomfort, difficulties, and trying times in our ministry. Some ministers respond to the difficulties of ministry by constantly griping, complaining, and talking negatively about the congregation. Or, perhaps we talk about another minister or one of the elders and demonize the person. Perhaps, some of these difficult times are actually opportunities to share in the sufferings of Christ (1:5).

Now let me suggest this to you.

As a believer, you can find great encouragement in your daily ministry as a child of God by reading 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Are you a pastor, minister, church planter, elder, or a church leader? Pay close attention to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1.

The following are some wonderful realities about ministry:

1. God comforts us in all our troubles and in turn allows us the opportunity to treasure his character (1:3-4) After all, he is “… the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort …” (1:3).

2. God ministers to us in our trouble. Consequently we are able to minister to others (4-6). He brings a new capacity for ministry into our lives.

3. God gives us the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus (1:5). What an honor!

4. God desires that we rely on him and not on ourselves in ministry (1:9). Such reliance is a proclamation of where we have set our hope (1:10).


Which one of the four realities of ministry means the most to you?


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5 thoughts on “21st Century Ministry and 2 Corinthians (Part 2)

  1. As an ex-preacher-turned-funeral director, I am often asked to officiate funeral service. I use 2 Cor.1 (Reality # 1) to remind families that God does not waste their grief … that they have now walked a path that puts them on a path of helping others that they would not have been able to help earlier. Usually I say it better than I just wrote it!

  2. I think I will take door #4. I don’t want to discount the fact that, as you said, no ministries are exempt from suffering. Yet, I don’t think any ministry should be ALL suffering either. Therefore, we can reasonably expect suffering to come and go in any ministry. But, it seems to me that #4 represents and over-arching reality, applicable at all times to every ministries.

  3. Sometimes, I catch myself stereotyping people long before I even know their story. This aunt helped me see that people are more than what I might see externally. Things aren’t always what they seem.