20 July 2009

The Four Things that Keep Me Going Whenever I Feel Like Quitting

1. My vocation as a pastor. Not because it keeps me busy with constructive activity. Nor because it gives me a sense of personal satisfaction. But because it is always forcing me back into the Word of God, and into the Gospel in particular. Consistently I have found that, when I study the Word of God and when I preach the Gospel, it is impossible for me remain so discouraged. I'm sure that I would have given up long ago, if not for the fact that, week after week, I am required to consider the Gospel carefully and confess it clearly.

2. The singing of good hymns. Because they confess the Gospel to me, and they open my lips to give thanks to God for all His benefits, and they assist me in praying as I ought to pray, that is, according to His Word and His promises in Christ Jesus. All of this, accompanied by the good gift of music, and placed upon my tongue by the grace of God, enables not only my mouth but my heart to sing with faith. That is why I love hymnody and revel in it to such an extent, and why I insist upon the singing of good hymns, for myself and for the benefit of others.

3. My children and my granddaughter. Not as though they were never a challenge and frustration, but because, of all the temporal blessings in my life on earth, there is nothing that gives me such unmitigated joy as my children, including now also my granddaughter. Truly, as far as the things of this life are concerned, nothing else brings such genuine happiness so immediately to my heart and mind as my children and granddaughter do. Along with that, knowing that I have a responsibility for my children, and knowing that they depend on me, prevents me from throwing up my hands in despair and giving up. Even if I mattered to no one else on earth, I do matter to them, and I derive both rejoicing and resolve from that simple fact.

4. The Resurrection of Christ. Not apart from His Cross and Passion, certainly, but as the accomplished victory and the harvested first-fruits of His Cross and Passion. It is only within the last year or two that I have come to recognize the comfort and benefit of the Resurrection. Now, whenever it is brought to my heart and mind by the Word and Spirit of God, it is like the opening of the heavens and the shining forth of the sun upon my troubled soul and spirit. That may sound like rhetorical hyperbole, but I honestly don't know how else to put it. Remembering the Resurrection of Christ, and my own share in His Resurrection by my Baptism into His death, it dawns on me and it becomes clear that nothing else matters ultimately. My life is hidden with Christ in God. So that is how I live, and that is what keeps me going when I feel like quitting.


Rev. James Leistico said...

thank you for this. Once again I find you writing thoughts I've had in much better ways than I could.

I'll never forget the lowest point in my ministry (so far), thinking about quitting, and the Law coming down hard on me from John 10 (the text for that upcoming Sunday), about the hireling running away.

I might add another way my children have kept me from quitting - not the same week, but around the same time, I looked at my newborn baby girl and realized that each of my members were once the newborn babes of someone else. And just as I hope that my children will constantly be fed Christ's Word, so also my members' parents desired that for them. With that thought, I got back to writing the sermon.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Well put, James. That's a good insight, and helpful to putting things in perspective. I appreciate your comments, as always. Christ be praised for His mercy toward us and toward His entire flock.

It occurred to me yesterday that it is precisely in raising up the Righteous Branch of David that the Lord raises up faithful shepherds for His people; raised them up, not only in the sense of providing them for His Church, but also in the sense of forgiving them and sustaining them in the true faith.

I am comforted in knowing that there is one Shepherd of the sheep, who loves not only them but also we who are called and ordained to be His undershepherds. He called the Apostles away to rest for a while, and so does He grant to us also His peace and rest in the Gospel.

Rev. James Leistico said...

as for the raising up the shepherds in both senses, you know how a previous shepherd put it - one poor beggar telling another where he found some bread

lisa said...

I am so appreciative of this post. Thank you.