Thick and Thin

In high school, I loved participating in track and field. For me, there was nothing better than feeling the air move past me at an accelerated pace. I enjoyed the excitement of a track meet. It was your opportunity to see where you stacked up against your competitors. I loved the idea of giving my best effort and that feeling of accomplishment. However, I was not too fond of the early-season preparation. I might be “old school,” but I know two main ways to get faster on race day: running up hills and training for endurance. If you combine those two elements, most runners will improve their race time at least marginally.
Near the practice track, there was a hill that was about 1000 feet long with a 10% grade, the “9th St Hill.” Our coach would set a timer, and your responsibility was to see how many hills you could do in 30 minutes. You could walk, jog, or sprint. But only one of those will get the results that you want. Some people would sprint one hill and walk the rest, others would lazily jog, and others would push themselves and endure the hardship, aiming to improve themselves as they prepared for race day. Some were running with a more noble motivation. They are not practicing simply because it is a requirement from the coach but because it will help them succeed in the long run (pun intended).  
In the last blog, we reflected on Paul’s message to the church in Corinth regarding “true ministers.” I did not know how accurate these verses were until 2023. However, some pearls of wisdom can encourage us and give us insight into our various ministries. 
2 Corinthians 6:4-5 – “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.”
The term minister has taken on a connotation of its own. It used to refer to someone who was an agent of some service or person. A minister could be someone dispensing care to another individual. However, it most commonly began to refer to an individual who was an agent on behalf of religion. Eventually, the term became a job title and not just a description of someone’s actions. The root word in this passage refers to someone who is a servant.
Therefore, in this passage, Paul refers to the “true servants” of God. You could also look at this as the opposite of a false minister, or rather one who administers with false pretenses or motives. Consequently, let’s note what Paul says is a marker of a true minister. 
A faithful minister is someone who does not quit. Paul strengthens this as he states they patiently endure. They could give up or find a different path, but instead, they patiently endure. To remain steadfast in the face of affliction. You could stop, and many do, but it is those who keep going that show where their strength comes from. Paul even references those things that make other people quit—everything ranging from beatings at the hands of an angry mob to sleepless nights. Yet, the important thing is to keep going. We should view this concept in light of Jesus’ words in John 10.  
John 10:11-14 – “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters the flock. 13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own, and My own know Me,”
Some “minsters” are only there for the paycheck. Some will quit the moment someone disagrees with them or makes them lose sleep. Some will not endure a hangnail, let alone actual hardships. Staying or running is what separates the real from the counterfeit. Jesus says that merely seeing a wolf will cause some to run away. My encouragement to you is to stick it out. When troubles come your way, when you serve others, don’t run away when things get messy or complicated. Stay with that person. They will recognize you as someone who actually cares, a true minister who will stick with them through Thick and Thin. 

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