Recently, I thought about my beginning days of ministry in 1976, after graduation from Mt. Vernon Bible College. It brought back many fond memories. Debbie and I have navigated this ministry course now for a little over 30 years. If anyone had paid close attention to some of my college jobs, they might have had suspicions about whether I was going to make it or not. On four occasions, I had one-day jobs during college. That’s all they lasted … 24 hours (or less)!
There was the job selling encyclopedias. Immediate feedback of getting the door slammed in your face was too discouraging for a 20-year-old. I didn’t show up the following day … one day was enough. There was the apple-picking job. I ate as much as I wanted, but when I counted what I was going to clear (production-based), it was less than minimum wage. The decision was easy … press on for the “perfect” job! Next, my roommate and I decided we would buy paint equipment and start painting some of those big red barns spread across Ohio. With no experience and no contacts, one day of cold calling left me with no leads, no money and the itch to keep looking for the right fit.
Well, I finally ended up at a trucking center less than three miles from campus—nice people, too. My job paid a decent wage, but it primarily entailed shoveling out huge cattle trailers. After a day of throwing up and shoveling, I headed to the campus, jobless again.
Maybe the problem was that I didn’t look at any of them as ministry, but only a means to help pay for college. Ministry is a lot of work—hard work. Often, it involves hearing “no,” being underpaid, having little experience and undertaking tasks that may be a little stinky. But I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth in I Cor. 15:58 (NIV): “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Recent figures from one denomination put their number of leaders who resigned or were forced from the ministry at 100 per week. Let’s lock arms and believe God for a strong finish! We can do it. He’s called and equipped us. Who knows? I might just be in charge of the apple orchards in heaven. What about you?
By: Glenn Burris Jr., general supervisor