5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b]With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
You recognize the passage, 2 Corinthians 4:5-18. I was hit hard today with what I redisovered in this passage, and through what I’ve been challenged to be thinking about lately as a church leader. Often times, church leaders feel obligated to hide their struggles, to put on their “minister” face and act like everything in their own life is hunkey dorey. Well, sometimes life is not okay. I am confessing that my own life is messy. I am God’s number one goober. I try hard, fail often, and wonder daily how God would love someone like me. I don’t know how or why, but only that he does.
A couple of things that I was reminded of this morning in my quiet time, and some things all church leaders would do well to remember.
1. Life and ministry go together. It’s not like when we leave the church office that ministry is somehow over. We have families and responsibilities and the phone rings around the clock.
2. Trails, struggles, temptation, worries are real. Church leaders aren’t immune from dealing with real life issues.
3. Leaders need to be transparent. I heard brother Buddy Bell, say that as leaders we need to lead in this area. When do most lies get told during the week? I think if we were honest with ourselves, we could all answer, that church hallways, and church restrooms are full of liars. I know this is a little harsh, but here me out…how do typical conversations go…”brother, so and so, how are you?” The answer, “I’m fine.” Now, most of us aren’t fine. Some of us have argued with our children or spouses on the way to church, or had a terrible week at work or are struggling with sickness or financial woes, and put on a mask and pretend everything is just fine. Leaders, stop it. I don’t think we need to unload all of our spiritual baggage, but we can certainly be more open and honest about our own shortcomings.
4. This life is temporary. Praise God, that this isn’t all there is. Our troubles are temporary, and even though we may be beaten down, because of the difference that Jesus makes we are being inwardly renewed.
5. Our shortcomings reveal God’s grace.