How to Overcome Obstacles in the First Stage of Apostolic Ministry
Discover how to dress according to the spiritual climate of your ministry and persevere through the tough times. Apostolic ministry is passed on through times of training and mentoring. A strong anointing is obvious in your life and it’s time for you to be sent out into that great harvest field. Oh, happy day! It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. This is what you have been waiting for all these years. So with great joy and fervent zeal you run toward your high calling to fulfill what you know in your heart is God’s plan for your life and ministry.
Somehow, however, things don’t seem to be going according to plan. You have that first meeting and the multitudes don’t show up. Someone brings you the sickest person in town to pray for and the person leaves sicker. You receive a call from the religious leaders of the community asking, “By what authority do you come to our town?” City zoning laws forbid you to occupy your affordable building on the busy highway, and you are forced to settle for that little storefront in the back of — well you know where. The next week, a visitor’s car is stolen during the service and fear paralyzes the remaining few. A lady calls to say how much she loves you and tells you she will attend after you get the ministry built.
After a careful heart-searching with the Lord, you are positive that you are being obedient to the Holy Spirit. Months of hard work pass and you find yourself on the edge of financial catastrophe, all the while hearing the echoes of mockers saying, “You preachers have all the money.” As more time passes, you look at your small group and ask God if it is possible to do anything with such a ragtag bunch. The next service you realize the spiritual climate is hard as nails and your prayers seem only to reach the ceiling before they fall down, seemingly unanswered.
During these dark times you feel alone and abandoned. Friends and family have done all they can to help. You never thought it was going to be like this. You reflect on how wonderful it was when you were back at your home church and working for your old boss at that secular job where things were a pain but you had good benefits. You are ready to quit. You ask, “What happened?”
The answer is you have just entered the ministry and are on the road to your destiny.
ROAD TO DESTINY
I am not trying to paint a gloomy picture of God’s awesome world of ministry, but many times the reality of fulfilling a divine call has been glossed over by false perceptions of the work of full-time ministry. Mostly what we see and hear on Christian television and radio is the fruit of many years of hard work. We see the products of people who have already passed through where you are today.
The reality is that you have entered the first stage of your apostolic ministry. You have left the nest and it is time to fly.
Sadly, some don’t make it past this first stage before they give up and return to an unfulfilling, mundane life. “How can the truly called and anointed fail?” you ask. They fail because they have not learned how to live through the first stage of their ministries. The good news is that you can make it. You can do what God has told you to do, provided you are dressed right.
One of the most unique things I have observed over the years is that many people don’t know how to live spiritually in the territory they have been sent. Let me explain how God showed me how to do this. This is a real-life example that will explain a spiritual truth.
In South Florida, where the natural climate is sunny and warm nearly all year round, we rarely need a jacket, even during the winter season. One February, a pastors and leaders’ conference was held in Sweden. I very much wanted to attend and to my great joy a sister bought two plane tickets so my wife Rhonda and I could attend. So, dressed in the classic American fashion of blue jeans, trendy tennis shoes, and a pullover shirt, Rhonda and I boarded a plane from Fort Lauderdale International Airport en route to Sweden. Yes, we knew that it would be cold and, of course, we brought along our South Florida winter wind-breakers.
Never having been to Sweden before, I was anxious to get there and listen to great men of God and make friends with people from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I shall never forget leaving the airport that February day. We were greeted by piercing cold. Ice and snow were everywhere. In seconds, I knew that my South Florida clothes, while stylish looking and sporty, were the wrong choice for a Swedish winter. I thought my ears and nose would completely fall off my head. It was unbelievable.
“Sweden is a beautiful country, but how can anyone live here?” I asked myself. It was like living in your freezer. Then the wind picked up and it started to snow so heavily that I could barely see ten feet in front of me. Rhonda and I ducked inside a warm Chinese restaurant and ordered a pot of hot Oolong tea. After the currency conversion, a pot of tea in that town cost us around twenty US dollars. The lesson was clear: Dressing wrong in Sweden can cost you a lot of money. Wow, I got a quick lesson in how to dress in natural climates. Before I left South Florida, I was looking and feeling good. I was comfortable and dressed for the South Florida climate, but when I got to Sweden we quickly discovered that our South Florida clothes would not allow us to survive in Sweden.
DRESSING FOR YOUR CLIMATE
With that lesson learned, Rhonda and I bought some clothes that enabled us to handle our short visit in the Swedish climate. We attended the conference and were thoroughly blessed, refreshed, and ready to continue on. This is a real-life example that explains a spiritual truth. Just as you must dress for your real-life climate, you must dress for your spiritual climate.
After living in South Florida for many years, I have seen ministry gifts come and go. Good people come and start ministries, run them for about a year, and then pack up and go back to wherever. To me, this is a sad thing. We can use all the laborers in this territory we can get. The problem is that ministry gifts often try to make things that they have seen work in other areas work in South Florida. However, ministries should dress according to the spiritual climate to which they are sent. What worked in Tulsa or Irvine may not work in the territory that God is sending you. You might have to dress differently. What worked in Pensacola, Toronto, or Uppsala may not work in the territory that God is sending you. Ask yourself two questions. Are you dressed for the city where you are ministering? Are you dressed for the season you are in? If the answer is yes, you are ready to accomplish your divine call, but if the answer is no, change your garments.
The first stage of a ministry is an exciting time. It is during this stage that your calling is confirmed and apostolic grit conceived. Be encouraged, you are on the right road toward your destiny. Remember, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith."
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark