I recently had a week of ministry scheduled with some artists on the east coast. No small task, but I’ll save you the myriad of boring details and simply say I’d booked my one-way plane tickets into Newark and out of small city Virginia. Then, as it often does, adversity struck the band, and then the ripple in their pond reached those of us in widening concentric circles attached to their schedule. Their bus had a mechanical issue, then a tour date got cancelled, leaving them possibly stranded, in a different city than I was planning on meeting them, with a long series of MAYBE dominoes- each MAYBE with it’s own ‘choose your own adventure’ ending where each choice sets a chain reaction of other choices.
Adversity carries in it’s luggage discouragement, especially if you live a pretty charmed life or tend to take things personally – both of which are true about me. I have chosen, however, to meet adversity with what I carry in my luggage: perseverance. Romans chapter 5:4 speaks of perseverance building character, and character building hope.
Each time I’ve planned a ministry trip, without fail it has been met with adversity. This trip meant I rented a car, drove several hours and $40 worth of tolls to a new city where I was MAYBE going to have to rent a room for the night (or 2). The cost was financial, but also was stressful and could have left me emotionally and spiritually discouraged and not usable or available to those I most want to serve.
Because I know about perseverance, I chose it and then found myself available & usable by God to build hope.
In the midst of this trip, I got an email from a festival contact where I’ve been serving as an artist chaplain for about 8 years now. I don’t get paid to go to this festival, I don’t receive any benefits from the festival, I am there to serve their artists. This festival contact wanted me to provide a list of artists I was serving, as they were checking on what they were doing & wanted to make sure it was with excellence. I was first offended by this request: how dare they question ME and my ministry; don’t they know what I’ve done to serve, don’t they realize how much I have given?? HAH- how arrogant of me to face the adversity with pride (instead of immediate perseverance, then character building, then hope building). I got over myself in a few short hours, revisiting the conversation in my head and repeatedly slapping my ego down with wisdom handed down to me over the years, and eventually came to the spot of compliance and gratitude and love. What I received was exactly what God says I’d receive. My character was built a bit when my pride was reduced, and I again was encouraged with HOPE. I was encouraged because the festival worker told me she’d followed up with 2 of the artists and they spoke highly of the ministry and how it was helping them personally and in their ministries as artists. Hope, built in me as I seek to build hope in others- a gift I would have fully missed.
My prayer for myself in ministry, for the artists I serve on the road, and for those reading this update is that you would take a breath and listen for the spaces where a quick and prideful, self-righteous response wants to come bounding out of your luggage AND INSTEAD replace it with the disciplined ears of wisdom that perseverance has, for when you listen with THOSE ears you have the chance to have character strengthened, and hope built within you. You will be blessed, and can then be a blessing.
– Dave Decker