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Cost of Ministry

A few months ago, a friend of mine read a quote out of John Goldingay’s little (159 pages) book, God’s Prophet, God’s Servant. He gives some pithy reflections on Jeremiah and Isaiah.  Finally read his first chapter this morning on “What being a prophet costs”, using the example of Jeremiah.  As a missionary, I need to hear these words!! According to Goldingay, if we are to be in ministry, we must be willing

1. To stand alone

We should be “. . . willing to stand alone, to cope with isolation, opposition, betrayal, and attack, even from those who ought to be most loyal to him.” 18

See Jeremiah 11:1-12:6; Mark 6:4

2. To have no private life

“He had no freedom to make his own decisions about how he lived his life; indeed he was forbidden the life of a normal human being.” 22

See Jer 12:6; 16:2-9

3. To be as hard as a rock outside even while you are being torn apart inside

“Jeremiah here appears as a man who can be hard as a rock when he is under huge pressure to change his stance and modify his message.” 24

See Jer 19:14b-20:18

Jeremiah’s experience in ministry is an experience of crucifixion, says Goldingay:

“Indeed, arguably, it is at these moments of crucifixion that Christian ministry is at its most authentic, its most distinctive.  For that was how it was with Jesus, and that is how it is with the person who follows Jesus.” 30

Goldingay ends his chapter referring to 2 Cor 4:11( Jeremiah, he says, is the 2 Cor of the OT) and concludes,

“There is a cost involved in being a prophet, in being a servant of God.  There is a cross involved.  We do not have to hide from this fact with glib talk about life being a challenge.  Because God promises that as we carry the cross, we can also reveal his glory. ” 30

I wonder why we neglect to mention the cost of ministry in our desire to get more workers out to the field?


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