“If you want to make sure your cup doesn’t run dry, make sure you are personally investing in the ministries that fill your cup. ”
Have you ever played that game you often see at youth groups, where you fill a cup with water and pass it down a line of kids to pour in a bucket at the other end? I played a game like that with some international students visiting the Cape this past summer. It is a hilarious game, filled with lots of laughs. But I noticed something. In the rush to get the cup down the line, most of the water would splash out. Sometimes, there would be little or nothing to pour into the bucket. To me, that’s a memorable metaphor of what it can often feel like to serve in Christian ministry.
When I was 21 I served on a ministry team, promoting the school I had attended. We were traveling all throughout the eastern seaboard, presenting in upwards of three churches a day. It was exhausting work, but I kept convincing myself that I was doing it as a sacrifice for God. That year took a toll on my life. I became what the apostle Paul called “weary in doing good.” I remember writing in my journal, “I feel like every time I get a drop of water in my cup, I have to spoon it out and give it to someone else.” I went on, “If this is ministry, I don’t want any part of it.”
You see, I had been serving God my whole life. I had spent countless hours in Church. I had been preaching since I was 12. I went to a Bible college and I was sacrificing an entire year of my life to promote the work of that ministry. But inwardly I felt empty. What happened?
This is an all too common problem in ministry. It is why Paul warned the Church to not burn out. No one plans to give up, but as trials and tribulations come our way, we quickly abandon our promises and settle into a self-defensive posture. We are all susceptible to breakdowns, failure, and discouragement.
How do we keep our own cups filled and still have enough to pour into the lives of others? Galatians 6 can give us some insights.
Look Out For One Another
Paul tells the Galatian believers to keep watch over each other. This isn’t to be done with a condescending eye, but with gospel perspective. We are called to bear one another’s burdens because that is precisely what Christ did for us. He not only bore our burdens on the cross so that we might be made righteous by His blood, but He teaches us how He expects us to love one another. When we truly love our neighbors, fulfilling the will of God, our cups will never run dry because God is love.
We have a tendency to deceive ourselves and think that we are serving God while simultaneously we are judging others by our own standards. This cuts off the faucet of God’s grace and ostracizes us from the community of support we need. When we stand on our own righteousness, we stand alone.
We are all susceptible to burnout and failure. That is why we need the accountability of the Body of Christ. But running around on a rampage, calling people out on everything they are doing wrong, is not the answer. Instead, we must first turn the lens on ourselves. When we invite others to help us remove the beam in our own eyes, they’ll see the beauty of repentance and we will likely never even have to mention the speck in their eyes.
Invest Your Resources Well
Anyone who has thrown themselves into Christian ministry has quickly discovered that God does not write blank checks. Instead, He teaches us to depend on Him for our daily bread. This not only requires that we work by faith and not by sight, but that we become wise and discerning about how we invest our limited resources.
Paul encourages the Church to not grow weary by telling them to invest in good teaching by saying that people should financially support those who teach them. Why does he bring up money? Because, as an act of worship, when we invest into something, we engage with it at a more intimate level. This also protects us from investing our resources in things where moth and rust corrupt. We surround ourselves with things, and those possessions will always demand more than we bargained for. When we don’t live a life of daily sacrificing and purposeful investment in the Kingdom of God, we will slowly start to drift into living for our possessions.
If you want to make sure your cup doesn’t run dry, make sure you are personally investing in the ministries that fill your cup.
Keep Your Cup Filled
A week after writing in my journal that I was done with ministry, a friend of mine confronted me with Hebrews 11:6, “...(God) rewards those who seek him.” That moment opened my eyes to my own spiritual discouragement and my heart was filled with a love and devotion for Christ like I had never experienced before. No longer did I feel empty in ministry. I noticed an overwhelming love for those I was pouring into with my own life and witness. It completely revolutionized my perspective and ministry. Now, I apply these principles to my life on a daily basis and I can honestly say, I have never felt that my cup has run dry.
I want your cup to be filled. That is why Songtime exists. Whether through our conferences, programs, or publications, we want to provide you with resources and teaching that will fill your cup on a daily basis.
More than just full, I want your cup to overflow. We want you to be overwhelmed by the love of God so that just by being in close proximity to others, you cannot help but splash some of your love on them.
Don’t give up. Don’t grow weary of doing good. Be patient and persevere and God will reward you for all of your investments into His Kingdom.
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