Conflicts in Ministry

Conflict in Ministry

By Jill Briscoe

Isaiah had had a terrible year. It was the year that King Uzziah died. Politically and personally things were spinning out of control. Yet that was the year that Isaiah looked up and saw the Lord! 

And isn’t that the way it goes? When things are in chaos around us, when conflicts in ministry arise, and the situation forces us to look above, we see the Lord! We see, like Isaiah saw, that He is in control. He is sitting on His throne. He knows exactly what is going on. All is well even when all evidence around Him says that things aren’t!

It’s all a question of where you are looking. Perhaps you are looking around. You are looking at a church where you are doing your level best to serve the people who are throwing everything back in your face. Or you are looking at your family in chaos and feeling horrible as you are supposed to be the shining example of the perfect Christian family. Maybe this is the year Uzziah died! A dream died. A program died. A women’s ministry died. Maybe a relationship died, or your health died, or your bank balance died. 

When Isaiah looked up he saw the Lord hadn’t died! His robe filled the temple. The Glory of the Lord was in evidence and Isaiah knew He was totally in charge of the world. He was in charge of Israel’s world, the church world, the old world, the ancient world ? and the future world. That was enough to help him relax and worship. Even when we have no earthly reason to relax and sing Hallelujah, we have a heavenly one! God is on His throne. All is well.

God is in the business of revealing Himself to us in the year that our Uzziah dies. But what do we mean? When Stuart was growing up, he tells me they used to sing a little chorus that went something like this: God is still on the throne. And He will remember His own. Though trials beset us, and burdens oppress us, He never will leave us alone!

Stuart said he didn’t realize he hadn’t got the words quite right until a friend pointed it out to him. Stuart was singing, “God is still on the phone!” “Well,” he said somewhat defensively, “God has a ‘Throne phone,’” and there is definitely something to that!

Remember next time Uzziah dies and you are tempted to despair, God is in charge, God is well aware of your problems. He will speak to you as He spoke to Isaiah. It may not be in a vision as He spoke to the prophet; it may be through the Scriptures, or through a friend, or even through a magazine! He will not leave you without encouragement.

But what has trouble to do with holiness? It wonderfully focuses the attention on God’s holiness, which makes us realize our own sinfulness. After Isaiah had seen the Lord, he realized his own shortcomings. “Oh my lips,” he exclaims. Isaiah’s lips were the most gifted part of Isaiah, yet as he gazed at the holiness of the Lord, the thing he did best appeared flawed and inadequate. The one thing that will stop us saying, “wow is me” will be us saying, “woe is me” and that humbling happens when we get a glimpse of His glory.

Then the angel flew to him and laid a coal from the altar on his lips. “See,” he said, “this has touched your lips and your sin is purged.” Once touched, Isaiah knew that his words would be set alight with the fire of God. Now his messages would burn their way into the hearts of men and women who had forgotten the holiness of God. His messages would convict them of sins that must be confessed in order for them to become effective again as the people of God.

Once cleansed, the Lord sent Isaiah right back to the same old people he had been preaching to without any success for such a long, long time. Holiness means saying, “here am I cleanse me, here am I heal me, here am I send me,” even to the same old group that has discouraged me so much. God will take you at your word, and use you for His purposes in a lost and hurting world. 

Are you having a bad year? Is this the year that your Uzziah died? Look up! Listen up!  Don’t be afraid — let Him make you holy and send you on your way. Say, “Here am I, send me!” Your world is waiting for a holy blessing.

A life in ministry presents its own unique challenges. The tasks of ministry, the needs of people, and the conflicts in ministry that frequently arise can be emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausting. Before you get too discouraged remember that God promises you His strength will always match any conflict or responsibility, no matter how overwhelming it might seem. He says, “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24). Our articles have been written with you in mind. Please take a look and know that we are listening, encouraging and praying for you.    

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