A long, long time ago I was wrestling with a desire to pursue vocational ministry, which had recently awakened in my heart. Not having much of any idea how to take those first steps or even how to make the decision, I went to a man who for a long time had been in vocational ministry and who had been a great help and encouragement to me. He gave me a gentle shove in the right direction, and he also said a few words that for some reason stuck like a treble hook in my mind. He said, “Ben, the politics you’ll see in ministry will break your heart.”
As I remember, he admonished me that my responsibility was simply to be faithful. Period. Back then I don’t think that I really knew what kind of politics he was talking about, but somehow I knew that he was right.
This was a great year. I will never forget 2005. I learned many lessons that I’ll never forget, just one of which is that my counselor’s advice was right—the politics in ministry really do break your heart. (If you think you know all that I have in mind, you’re wrong.)
The bottom line is that the optimism of my youth is now dead—but it needed to die. It was largely an optimism that was based on hope in flesh. Read any biography or history of an institution. It will either be a stark record of human failure, or it will fall short of objectivity and accuracy.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that my optimism is not dead and gone—just the optimism of my youth. The optimism that remains is a gift from God. It is a reinforced hope in His changelessness and His faithfulness to do as He has said. It is, by His grace, an optimism grounded in His eternal purposes, His sovereign plan, and His kind intention to bless His people. And somehow, he’s chosen me to share in those riches.
To be sure, there are questions and doubts in my mind. Will I be faithful? Will I persevere in my confidence in God? Will I set my ambition on becoming a political player? Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m glad for the lessons and the loss. I don’t think I'll be missing out on much at all.