Life is tough, ministry is challenging, egos get in the way, pride can cloud our vision, personal ambitions can distract, and the voices of crowds can derail a person looking to serve for the glory of God. 12 years ago I was ordained by God to serve as a priest in the Coptic Orthodox Church. During that time period, God has taught me many lessons. None of them more important than the first lesson I learned when I started my Christian journey. When the music fades away, all that will matter is all that has ever mattered.
You have an audience of One
In his final letter to his disciple Timothy, Paul the Apostle gives him the most important lesson anyone wanting to to serve God could embrace. Having penned a message from prison to his protégé, St. Paul knew firsthand what was yet to come for this young bishop named Timothy. It was for that reason, he instructs him to stay focused. In 2 Timothy 2, the Apostle says that “3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” Serving God is like being in a war, and frankly soldiers do not let themselves get distracted with trivial matters, that is if they want to stay alive.
Irrespective of what a solider is feeling, they have a duty to perform their role to the best of their ability, with what they have been equipped with. Never forget, your audience is none other than the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Creator of all, the Savior, the Alpha and the Omega, the Messiah, in whom “we live and move and have our being.” So when “life happens”, how do I stay focused on serving Jesus:
1. Be Trained as a Soldier: Where do I start? Jesus sent out the disciples to make disciples, and those disciples made still more disciples. To get trained as a solider, a trainer is needed. Acknowledging your need to be trained by another requires a great deal of humility. Always remember that nobody has a monopoly on experience, wisdom, knowledge, or spirituality. Find someone who can train you and learn what it means to be a disciple.
2. Know Your Role: What am I supposed to do? Always remember that you are just “a soldier”. Don’t miss the point here though! You are not the King, the Savior, the Messiah, but you are an essential part of Kingdom work. The war has been waged and will continue to be fought by the Body of Christ through His might and power.
3. Draw Your Power from Him: How do you fight the battle each day? Dedicate at least 15-20 minutes each day to be in communion with Him. Developing a strong inner life of prayer is a must.If you are really serious about ministering to others, you will figure out very quickly that more time is needed.
4. Expect Attacks: What happens when attacks come? Every time someone says something nonsensical and ridiculous, a friend of mine begs the question, “Are you better than Christ?” A solider is not surprised when bullets come flying their way. In fact they might be confused if the enemy is not attacking.
5. Stay Dedicated to the Truth: How do I remain free to serve? To do the work of Christ, one has to be free and unentangled, which means we need Truth seekers today more than ever. Stay focused on growing in the Truth of Christ and preached by the Apostles and preserved by the Fathers.
What do you need to do today in order to remain focused on your audience of One?