Paul writes. “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Paul is content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ. The basis for Paul’s contentedness is the grace and power of God in his life. He has come to understand that the pain he endures has a purpose. God is sanctifying Paul, perfecting him, through the hardship. More specifically Paul says the weakness or difficulty he faces serves to keep him humble.
Every pastor deals with weaknesses, insults, hardship, persecutions, and calamities in his life. They take the form of things like criticism, comparison, betrayal, rumors or lies, loneliness, bitterness, or even depression. I have decided to write about these issues because of my personal ministry. I face insults, hardships, criticisms, comparisons, rumors and lies, loneliness, bitterness, and depression throughout the course of every year. I can’t write about these issues from a place of superiority. Instead, I am going to write from a place of weakness and inferiority. I could think of dozens of pastors who should be writing this, but after the prompting of the Lord to work through this in my own life I am hoping to be of some benefit to you and your ministry.
Paul says in Philippians 4:11 “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” My prayer is that I will be able to say “I can do all things through him strengthens me,” including dealing with the pain and hardship of life and ministry.