As the global health crisis marches on, it might be appealing to remove your leader hat, stuff it in the back of your closet, and go undercover until the storm passes. It’s an enticing idea when you feel overwhelmed by the compounding needs of yourself and the people you serve.
Several hundred women were under my care during the 9/11 terrorist attacks that locked the United States in a vice grip of fear. But it seems like nothing compared to the COVID-19 outbreak. The women’s ministry manuals lining our bookshelves didn’t include a chapter on leading through a pandemic. You have permission to say: “I don’t know how to lead right now.” The truth is, not one of us can lead right now without the wisdom and strength that only God provides (Prov. 3:5–6; 1 Peter 4:11).
Our Compassionate God
Thankfully, our grace-giving God never leaves His servants stranded in difficult times. His compassionate care bleeds onto the pages of Scripture for our encouragement, just as it encouraged Paul, the zealous missionary, in Acts 18:1–17.
Paul suffered more than his fair share of hard knocks while advancing the gospel in Europe. Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea welcomed him with merciless beatings and rejection. When Paul arrived in Corinth from Athens, he was weak, fearful, and trembling (1 Cor. 2:3).
God encouraged Paul when he needed it most, and He wants to do the same for us today. Here are some ways the Lord strengthens His workers in times of ministry fatigue and fear.
4 Ways God Strengthens You for Ministry
1. Look for people ready to partner with you.
Paul’s first order of business in Corinth was to seek out co-laborers for the kingdom. God led him straight to Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tentmakers who landed in Corinth after the government forced them out of Rome. These new friends offered their gifts of hospitality and discipleship for the mission of establishing churches in Corinth and Ephesus. Their friendship was a flowing stream of strength for Paul.
- Who has God prepared with a mission mindset to help you for such a time as this?
- How can you engage the gifts and passions of like-hearted women to advance and strengthen your ministry? Now is the time to ask. (Revive Our Hearts has a Women’s Leader Facebook group, a team of Ambassadors, and free resources to help you make the right connections.)
2. Seek new opportunities.
When the Jews kicked Paul out of the synagogue, he refocused his efforts on the Gentiles. Paul encountered the bump in the road of losing his ministry platform more than once. But it didn’t slow him down for long. Rather than giving up, Paul looked for new opportunities. I imagine he brainstormed with his team of Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, and Timothy and prayed for alternative avenues to reach the Corinthians with the gospel. The solution was quickly uncovered in the home of Titius Justus.
- What new ministry avenues is God giving to you?
- Round up your team for a brainstorming and prayer session on ways to move forward.
3. Remember God is with you.
The gospel was beginning to bear fruit in Corinth, but it was taking a toll. God assured Paul that he wasn’t alone in this gargantuan ministry task, even though the obstacles made him feel that way. He needed encouragement to keep going. The Lord reassured Paul of His divinely appointed role in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9–10).
We’re invited to cast our anxiety on Him because He is compassionate and caring (1 Peter 5:7). Every day when you wake up with more questions than answers, God is right there. When you feel the challenges are too great and defeat is close by, remember: God is in the middle of the chaos. He didn’t desert Paul, and He won’t desert you in your hour of need.
- How is God reassuring you of His presence today?
- Grab hold of a verse and use it as a stabilizing force for pressing on.
4. Expect God to provide tailor-made grace.
When the Jews united in a vicious plot to get rid of Paul, they dragged him before the proconsul Gallio. Just as Paul opened his mouth to defend himself (Acts 18:14), Gallio surprisingly dismissed the case as a matter of Jewish religious law.
I love that Scripture records how Paul was ready to protest at the very moment God’s Providence overruled through the Roman official. God is always working toward our good and orchestrating even the most minute detail for His glorious plans. The words of Job are especially comforting in uncertain days,
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
You may feel lacking in areas such as technology, creativity, discipline, and focus.
If God’s plan is your plan, He will supply everything you need (Phil. 4:19). Keep doing what you know how to do using the gifts and graces He’s given you. Be teachable and learn how to use new tools. Be willing to try something different and fail. Failure isn’t the worst that can happen. It’s in these very moments we grow and are shaped like the Savior.
- How is God enhancing your gifts to minister uniquely in this season of crisis?
- Make a list of the ways you feel lacking and pray for God to fill in with His tailor-made grace. Journal the large and small ways He meets those needs to keep a heart of humility and gratitude.
It’s Not the Time to Quit
Ministry feels uncomfortable to most of us right now, and it may continue that way for longer than we wish. It’s not the time to quit. God wants to strengthen you for His work. We have His promise in Psalm 138:7–8,
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life . . . The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
When you look back after the storm calms, you’ll be amazed at all God did in you and through you in this ministry moment. If you will look to God and His provision, you’ll be able to add your testimony to the psalmist’s,
On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Ps. 138:3)