How to Fight Ministry Battles

Blood pressure rising… heart racing… ragged breathing… the fight is on!

The fight comes in so many ways… It can come suddenly through a call from an angry parent or volunteer, or through the random emergencies that happen practically every Sunday morning. For me though, it’s often the fights that are far away on the horizon that give me the most anxiety.

It’s the challenging conversation that I know I need to have with one of my leaders… It’s the upcoming vision meeting where I’m going to be casting vision for a change of direction… It’s the mission trip to Africa in a month (when my biggest fear in life is flying!)

So many of the battles that we face in ministry and in life are won or lost long before we ever get to the battlefield.

In the Old Testament, God’s kingdom rule was represented by a literal kingdom here on earth: the Israelites. And with it being a literal kingdom, it had to fight literal battles. We see one of those battles in the classic Bible story we often tell in children’s ministry: David and Goliath… A battle that was actually won long before David ever went sling vs. spear with Goliath.

You know the story… here the Israelites are yet again facing off with the Philistines. They’ve both setup their camps and Goliath is terrifying Saul and the Israelites with his daily taunts.

I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. 1 Samuel 17:10-11

Saul had already lost the battle before he ever stepped on the field, because his vision was focused on Goliath and the immensity of the struggle ahead. He had a fear of man rather than a fear of God.

How often are we the same way? We get blinders on and start imagining all of the terrible scenarios that could happen, “I just know all of my leaders are going to quit…” or “This talk is going to go over like a lead balloon…” or “This plane is going to fall out of the sky and I’m going to die screaming in a burning inferno and then I’ll probably crash in the ocean and drown while I’m burning and a shark will eat my still beating heart.” You know, the standard fears that we all have.

Then David steps onto the scene…

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”  1 Samuel 17:45-47

Now that is a battle cry! David is so confident in God that Goliath’s size and armament doesn’t even figure into his mental equation. While Saul had lost the battle before ever fighting, David had already won.

Because of Jesus, we are in an even better position of victory than David, but we still face the same fight: the fight to live in a deeper reality than the one that we see all around us. Edward Welch says, “Faith sees more, not less.” We see that we are sons and daughters of the King. We see that we live in a spiritual kingdom where our Father is good and He has promised to care for us. We see that our Father is in control, and He is the one ultimately in charge of our ministries. We can rest and abide that win or lose, live or die, succeed or fail, our story is being written by a powerful, gracious, loving God.

That’s the place of power we stand… that’s the new kingdom in which we live. When we keep our eyes focused there, the battle is already won.

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