Read 1 Thessalonians 2:5-9
5 Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! 6 As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
7 As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. 8 We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
9 Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. (NLT)
Ministering to others is a risky business. It involves getting close to people, entering their pain. Ministry, whether done by a paid church leader or by a church volunteer, takes time and exacts a cost. Some leaders of big churches delegate a lot of that to others. This is a practical necessity in such situations, but such leaders dare not hide behind such corporate terms as ‘executive pastor’ and assume they are primarily managers of religious organisations. Whether big or small, church ministry is all about people.
And quite a few of those people are struggling and are looking for some sort of help and hope. And this is where we can’t afford to be mere advice givers or detached counsellors, or all-knowing preachers. Let Henri Nouwen state the truth of it:
“Who can save a child from a burning house without taking the risk of being burnt by the flames? Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair and not take the risk of experiencing similar pains? Who can take away suffering without enduring it? The great illusion of leadership is to think that others can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.”