God’s Antidote When Things Don’t Go Your Way

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them. Although written with church leaders in mind, it’s applicable to anyone facing difficulty.

Circumstances beyond our control (demographics or a location that hinders growth), an uncooperative board (they say no to an important initiative), or even family issues (a chronically ill child who requires an inordinate amount of energy) can hinder and dilute our ministry efforts. In other words, we seldom immediately see the benefit from brokenness.

Brokenness has touched my life in the two places where it hurts the most: my family (one chronically sick child, one who rebelled for five years) and my ministry (many dreams yet unfulfilled). But Jesus said brokenness must precede fruit bearing.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.[1]

As the nineteenth-century Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard said, “God creates everything out of nothing—and everything God is to use he first reduces to nothing.”[2]

Richard Foster, one of today’s most influential voices on spiritual formation, described one of the greatest benefits from brokenness. He calls this the “crucifixion of the will” and says it brings “freedom from the everlasting burden of always having to get our own way.”[3] Having to always get our own way is the antithesis of the other-centered life Jesus modeled for us.

[1] John 12:24, NASB

[2] Søren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard, ed. Alexander Dru (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 245.

[3] Richard Foster, Prayer (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 55.

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