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Our ECO relationships
You remember the line that goes, “ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people?” It does actually strike one as funny…especially for those folks who have had times in ministry where nothing was going right! Periods of frustration and constant troubles, where you wonder what in the world keeps you going in this thing called ministry.
Church life is tough. We’ve all been there. It is messy, complicated, and it hurts. I’m convinced ministry gets this way because the main thing we are called to do is love—and love is tough! We’ve all had times where we are in a Bible study, leading in some way, or even perhaps preaching, where we are just not mentally present because we are hurting personally. I can attest to being in that spot. Actually, I am in that spot right now as I write this. We have recently come out of the 9/11 remembrance, a period of mourning and sadness in my household, only to be met by a personal family tragedy this week. I can say that I’m just not having a good week. But I am writing this because it’s in this time that I realize just how needed and how very important our ministry is.
Ministry is love, isn’t it? And love comes in the form of relationships. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” It’s our relationship with Christ that affects all others. Whether it’s your spouse, your immediate family, your close friends, or your church family, these are the people who will surround you in the difficult times. These are the people who will minister to you, much in the same way you go out and minister to others. And there is no substitute for that.
There is love here
As my wife and I led a Bible study this past week at a retirement community in our town, we kept quiet about the news we had received earlier about a loved one’s passing. We didn’t want to take the attention off the text we were going to be reading. That day’s lesson was John 13, the start of Jesus’ farewell discourse. Turns out that the text hit home (as it always does). The chapter nears completion with verse 35 and says,
“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I sit in a seat that overlooks much in the way of territory, churches, people and stories, and the thing that strikes me about ECO is that there’s much love in this place. There is much love within our congregations for one another, for their pastors, and their pastors for them. There is much love at the denomination offices, amongst the staff and the colleagues in ministry, and in the Pastor Covenant Groups (PCGs). There are relationships built on this love, and it is this love that will really move us forward. It will move us forward in healing from hurts and heartaches, from ministry failures, and from stress. Ministry is great, and it’s all about the people. It needs the love, the triumph over sadness and hurt, the healing from deep wounds. It needs us all. It needs the pastors, the elders, the deacons and the laypeople. Nobody is exempt from loving one another. And it is Jesus who modeled it, who explained it, who proved it. And it’s Jesus who will see us through in ministry, now, and until He returns.
PS Your Synod office staff and officers care! We are looking into partnerships with great ministries that offer support to pastors in times of trouble. We desire to encourage healthy churches and healthy leaders, so we always want you to know you have our full support and prayer for whatever situation in which you find yourself.
You are never alone in our ECO family!