How God Changed My Ministry
I can’t tell you how many times in my early days of ministry I questioned if God had really called me into pastoral ministry. It’s embarrassing to admit how many times I decided to quit. I thought my problem was that I had been called to a difficult place. I reasoned that I had been sent to work with unusually resistant people. I envied the ministry of other people who seemed to have it better than me. I dreamed of a series of other jobs. I did a lot of moaning and complaining. I felt weak and unprepared. I knew something was wrong. I knew something was missing, but I simply had no clue what it was.
Then one day, in the mystery of God’s loving and wise sovereignty, I bumped into Psalm 145, and it changed my life.
No, it’s not an exaggeration. It really did change me and everything about my ministry. And I have been living off those changes ever since.
While I wish I could say that the battle is over for me, it’s not; I’ve just become a more knowledgeable and committed soldier. Yet Psalm 145 gave me what I was so desperately missing: the big picture.
Ministry’s Grand Agenda
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
One Little Phrase
It’s all there. What I desperately needed and didn’t see. It opens doors of thought, insight, and understanding. But it did more than that for me. It began to rescue me from me.
Let me explain. I had read Psalm 145 many, many times. But this time, one single phrase in verse 4 that I had never noticed before hit me hard. I think it is the linchpin of the psalm. It’s the door that leads you to what this psalm is about, what ministry is about, what life is about.
I began to think that this psalm was getting my ministry where it needed to be; what was really happening was that God was getting to me. I am so thankful for that one little phrase. God used it as a tool to rescue the life of this man who had lost his ministry way.
One generation shall commend your works to another.
That was exactly what I needed. It immediately hit me that every moment of ministry must contribute to this goal. Whether it’s the worship service, the children’s lesson, the small group, or the sermon itself, each must share the central goal of holding the awesome glory of the works of the Lord before his people once again.
The Ministry of Awe Inspiring
God intends every moment of ministry to inspire awe of himself in his people. This must happen again and again and again. Why? Because we so easily become awe amnesiacs.
We live between the “already”—Christ’s completed and inaugurated work—and the “not yet”—the coming culmination of God’s work of redemption. And since life in this period is one big war over awe, the present generation of ministry people must give the next generation their awe of God.
The Strength to Inspire Awe
We all face a day-to-day battle for awe in ministry. But we are not alone. The God of awesome grace whom we serve is a God not only of past and future grace but of present grace as well. His present grace does for you what you cannot do for yourself; it rescues you from you. His grace protects you from the dullness and fickleness of your affections. His grace opens blind eyes and recaptures straying hearts.
True hope for all our ministries is found in the unrelenting zeal of his right-here, right-now grace.
This article is adapted from Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp.