I experienced a rare gift a few weeks ago. With a couple dozen other pastors, I sat at the feet of seasoned pastor Bill Hughes, one of the pastors of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Coconut Creek, Florida. Bill spent most of his pastoral ministry serving in Scotland and still remains in the trenches serving well into his 70’s in Florida.
Honestly, I would rather hear from a legendary man of God as this than the most popular, sought after evangelical speakers of our day. My reason for saying this is because of so many simple, yet stunning truths Bill spoke into our lives through an exposition of 2 Cor. 4 that possessed a wisdom I have rarely experienced in another pastor. One example of this, that continues to challenge me was something I had never heard worded in this way, but truly answers this nagging question “how to endure through the difficulties of pastoral ministry?” Pulled from a observation from 2 Cor. 4:1 Bill said…
“Never forget the debt to mercy we owe.”
See what I mean? Simple. Stunningly true. Yet, when measured against anything we might face as pastors produces endurance in every trial, struggle, and difficulty. Bill instructed us that when we remember who we once were and the amazing debt to mercy we owe to our Savior, we will be patient, gracious, and merciful to even the most stubborn and petty of conflicts and complaints we experience in the church. Likewise, if we forget who we once were and presume upon this debt to mercy in the gospel, those same petty people and issues will eat us up and will destroy us and our ministry.
Dear brothers, if you find yourself discouraged, angry, wondering why some of your people do and say what they do and you can’t take it any more…do not forget the debt to mercy you owe. It is a debt greater than you and I could ever payback. It is a debt that should weigh heavier on our joyful hearts than the most difficult person in our church. Apply this truth that I was so powerfully taught a few weeks ago and see if you then find the hope and perspective you need for that struggling person or circumstance you face in your ministry.