By Chris Hefner
The funeral of a full-term baby and ministry to a grief-stricken couple.
A marriage in desperate need of repentance and rescue.
The salvation of a friend who consistently rejects his need for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
These were ministry situations I faced last month.
I had no words of comfort for the couple. One day the baby was healthy. The next day the baby wasn’t moving in the womb. An untimely death soon followed, and a couple is now grieving over the life that carried their hopes and dreams.
I had little help for the marriage–secrecy, accusation, dishonesty, broken trust. It was a marriage where only one partner wanted to help. It’s exceedingly difficult to offer hope and guidance in a situation marked by deceit and resentment.
I had only the gospel for my friend. I’ve prayed, begged, shared, defended, explained, preached, and pleaded all toward the salvation of sinners. But I cannot save.
Last month, I was reminded of the weight of insufficient ministry. Much of my ministry during this period, or any period for that matter, is glaringly insufficient.
There are times when I don’t have words of comfort to offer. There are times when wisdom eludes me. There are times when my preaching or my gospel witness stumbles and stutters. And this is a good thing.
When our ministry is insufficient, we must go to the only sufficient One.
Not every period in my ministry is like this one. Many days are joyous. Often, they’re rather uneventful. Some are memorable. A few are ego-building.
When that right mix of gifts, opportunity, and need coalesce and God uses you, it can be exhilarating. When that church member encourages you, or brags on you, or supports you while you’re out on that limb, it can be thrilling.
But we must remember that our gifts, ministries, words, wisdom, and leadership are not primary. Ultimately, they’re insufficient because we’re insufficient.
But there’s One who is sufficient.
Only the Spirit of Jesus can bring sinners to repentance, bring healing and forgiveness to broken relationships, and bring comfort to a grief-stricken family.
I needed to feel the weight of insufficient ministry. God sustained me and reminded me of my daily need for Him.
In each of these situations, God has intervened. In each of them, God revealed Himself sufficient. And in what little part I played as a conduit or servant, I was privileged to witness the glorious sufficiency of the Savior.
Remember the words of the Savior, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
CHRIS HEFNER (@chrishefner) is husband to a beautiful wife and fantastic mommy, Jean Hefner, daddy of two little boys, William and Nathan, and senior pastor at Wilkesboro Baptist Church in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He’s also professor of Western Civilization and Apologetics at Fruitland Baptist Bible College and Ph.D. graduate from the Billy Graham School of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.