Summary: Ministry of any kind can be discouraging. In the long run, serving God and man pays off if we don't give up (Galatians 6.9).
1. Followers of Yeshua (Jesus) are called to imitate his life of service
For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10.45
2. We might think of the professional clergy as being "ministers" -- on call 24/7, however, EVERY believer is in essence a minister
11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. Ephesians 4.11-16
3. Ministry appears to be glamorous in some respects but is just plain hard work:
* The Servant takes time from family to serve others
* The Servant goes 10 miles to meet a need and never gets a word of thanks
* The Servant pours him/herself into people who, in turn, refuse to follow Yeshua (Jesus) -- they were only concerned about what they could get at the moment
* The Servant faces disappointment and risk every time he/she takes up the towel to serve
4. Is serving worth it?
I. The Question is An Old One
A. The Greats had/have their Doubts
1. Abraham's doubt produced Ishmael and perpetual conflict
2. Jeremiah struggled, but couldn't stop serving --
But if I say, "I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20.9 (NIV)
3. Yeshua (Jesus)?
27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."29 The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; 32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." John 12.27-32
B. The Greats Had/Have their Direction (Answer)
1. Serving Begins with Motive -- WHY are we serving?
a. To be seen of men?
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6.5
5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues,7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. Matthew 23.5-8
b. To be seen of God?
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4.5
But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God." Isaiah 49.4
c. To make a difference?
2. What happens when we do not make a difference?
a. God does not judge us on results
b. God judges us on faithfulness -- Jeremiah -- 0 Results; Noah -- 8 saved; Paul; Moses; and others could appear as great failures in Ministry -- yet we know better
II. The Question is an Obscure One
A. Serving is a Matter of Trust
1. We do not always see the results of our labors
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3.5-7