Recently, I have spoken to several pastors who are going through a difficult time in their ministries. In every case, these men have seen some of their preacher boys, and in some cases, their own son wandered from the fundamentals of the faith. However, these strays have changed and become critical for the strong positions these pastors have taken over the years.
I think of Joshua 1:9 as I think of what these men are facing. Four commands are given in this passage. The first three don’t worry me about these men. However, the fourth one is the one I want to focus on the most.
Be strong. There is no question in my mind that these pastors are strong men. They have proven their mettle and fought many battles.
Be of a good courage. I have seen these men courageously take a stand for what they believe. No doubt they have good courage.
Be not afraid. These are not cowardly men. On the contrary, they know how to face the struggles and trials and put aside their fear to continue the fight.
However, the fourth command is not so easy. Be not dismayed. It’s hard sometimes not to be dismayed. We stay strong, fight the good fight, and overcome our fear, but then we become weary when we see others who don’t want to fight anymore. It is here where my worries come.
I have fought not to be dismayed when former church members turn against me because they are tired of fighting and no longer remember the victories but only the struggles. Likewise, I have fought not to be dismayed when preacher friends quit fighting and changed, becoming more pacifist in their positions.
To not be dismayed means not being weary in well-doing. When the battle is raging, and we see no victory, we must not be dismayed. When soldiers who once fought by our sides turned and retreated, it’s hard not to be dismayed. I don’t fight the first three as much as I do the fourth. The years of ministry have made me strong, given me the courage, and taken away my fears, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel dismayed.
Brethren, my challenge to you is to keep being strong, keep having good courage, and continue putting aside your fears. However, my greatest challenge to you is that when others flee and forsake you, be not dismayed, for God is with you, whithersoever thou goest.