“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.’” — Mother Teresa
Can we have an honest moment? Ministry with a heart for inclusion is often frustrating. Because God put this passion in our hearts for some of the most marginalized people in our culture, we bear their same burden of being outcast, ignored, denied access to the full Body of Christ. While the wider disability ministry community has become more vibrant in recent years, we are still very much near the ground floor of this type of work. We are still breaking down barriers and building bridges.
While this is incredible, fulfilling work (After all, God does tell us in Psalm 34:18 that He’s close to the brokenhearted. If we’re close to them, we’re close to Him!) we can easily find ourselves discouraged in many ways. There can be secular governments or structures that can create roadblocks to our work. There can be that tough nut to crack, a family or child who just won’t let down their guard with you. There can be the grants you’re denied or donations that go to flashier causes that you may think are less worthy. And there can be the people who praise Jesus on Sunday, saying “Amen!” to the pastor’s admonition to love the least of God’s children, but turn a blind eye and cold shoulder to us once they are out of the church parking lot. This can really take the wind out of our sails.
But it’s times like these that we must keep on keepin’ on, my friends. Being completely transparent with you, let me share how I have to readjust my focus at times like this. I need to get my eyes off the work and keep my eyes on the Lord. Reveling in who He is empowers me to just keep taking that next right step. I may be moving at a snail’s pace, but I’m still moving forward. God’s grace helps me persevere as I serve for an audience of One.
Leadership skills are helpful, but sometimes we move in ways that are too much like the world. We measure our success by how many participants we have, how many decisions for Christ were made, how many speeches we’ve given, or how many grants we’ve secured. We delude ourselves with our credentials, publications and years of experience. When the ugly, thankless times of ministry linger, this is all rubbish.
We need to get back to doing what the dear, humble woman quoted at the beginning of this post did — Just love one person to Jesus at a time. Be Jesus to that person, and love them like they were Jesus Himself. That may mean that we miss goals, look like we’re going nowhere fast or feel like we’re spinning our wheels. But in God’s hands, we are considered sharps tools as we consistently press on and obey.