Facing Challenges in Ministry

We face all kinds of challenges in ministry. What attitudes do we need to face our challenges? I like to draw some lessons from Exo 17:8-13.

8Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.

9So Moses said to Joshua,
"Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek
Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand."

10Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek;
and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

11So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed,
and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

12But Moses' hands were heavy.
Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it;
and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other.
Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.

13So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Moses, Joshua, Aaron and Hur ... there may be times when your role is Moses, sometimes, Joshua and sometimes, Aaron or Hur. Let's look at each one of them.


Moses

The Amalek came to fight against Israel ... this was the challenge before Moses. What was Moses' response?

Chose Joshua, gave instructions to Joshua to choose men and delegate the responsibility to fight to Joshua – Moses tackled the problem head-on. When there is a problem, we got to do something!

This probably wasn't Moses' natural inclination … to take the bull by its horns. When God called Moses, Moses gave excuses. When the Egyptians chased after the Israelites with their soldiers, horses and chariots, the people complained against him, Moses cried out to God (v 15). What was God's response? Why are you crying out to Me? You've faith (cf Exo 14:13-14) then do something … tell the people to go forward!
  • Exo 14:16 … As for you … Moses, you've a part to play
  • Exo 14:17 … As for Me … Moses, you do your part and I will do my part
When you're doing God's work, you do your part and ask God's help; God will do his part. You got to do something then see what God will do.

As we face our challenges, we got to do something … faith is not divorced from action. Tackle problems head-on.

A wise leader does not do everything. He looks for people who have the relevant gifts and experience … people who are faithful. He looks for people whom he can equip for the ministry.

Back to Exo 17 … what else did Moses do?

Moses' responsibility does not end after delegation. Moses told Joshua, "Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand". Moses said, "Joshua, I will pray for you." Pray for the people that God had entrusted to you. Tell these people … I prayed and am praying for you. This provides great encouragement.

When Moses said, “Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand” … what do you think was the impact on Joshua?

Moses' staff was no ordinary staff … it was the staff of God. It was the staff that Moses raised and stretched out over the sea to divide the waters. Probably it was waved to return the waters that drowned the Egyptians soldiers and horses. The staff of God was a symbol of power, deliverance and victory. When Moses said, "Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand" … Joshua knew he had Moses' support and all of God’s power behind him as he goes into battle.

As we face our challenges, let's pray … let's support one another in prayer.


Joshua

When Moses gave Joshua the task of selecting men for the battle … it is a difficult task. Though Israel was armed for battle when they left Egypt (Exo 13:18) … the people had not fought a battle for some 400 years. What’s worse was that they are a complaining lot … no graves in Egypt, bitter water, no food, no water … complaints after complaints. Joshua probably did not have many to choose from but he did not complain. He worked with what he had.

As we face our challenges, let's us not complain about what we don't have; instead use what we have … we do our part and trust God to do His part.

During the battle ...
  • Not sure if Joshua could see Moses up on the hill; definitely hard to see Moses when Moses was sitting down on the rock.

  • Not sure if there were breaks in the battle that Joshua could take time to scan the hill for Moses.

  • Not sure if at the time of battle, Joshua knew that whenever Moses' hand was up, they were winning but whenever Moses' hand was down, the Amalek was winning.
In any case when Joshua was fighting, he must have fought as if the outcome … victory … was totally dependent on him and his men. He and his men got to do something … but when that thing wasn't working … in bringing the desired result … I'm sure they did something else. The battle was dynamic … times when the Amalek was winning, times when they were … and Joshua had to adapt accordingly.

As face our challenges, we got to do everything we can … as if everything depends on us.


Back to Moses on the hill … he soon realized that while the battle was going on physically below, the outcome was determined at a different level … at the spiritual level … when his hand was up, the Israelites were winning but when his hand was down, the Amalek was winning.

This is a good reminder that we are in a spiritual war … when we are engaging in ministry, we are engaging in battle … a battle with unseen forces. One problem that is associated with such a battle is that it is not consciously and not continuously on our mind – simply because it is unseen.

As we face our challenges, let's remind one another that we are in spiritual warfare.

Why did Moses choose to station himself on the top of the hill? … so that he could see the progress of the battle … so that he could pray and support intelligently. Ask yourself, where is that hill where you can station yourself?

As we face our challenges, keep one another informed as to what is happening … seek prayer support … send SMS, email. And when you receive a SMS or an email, pray there and then.


Aaron and Hur

But Moses was tired. He had difficulty keeping his hands up. Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under Moses and Moses sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ hands … one on each side … literally, a supportive role.

As we face our challenges, let’s lend a supportive hand to one another. Don't draw a strict demarcation; don't say, "This is my duty, that is yours!"


Conclusion

What if on the day of battle, Aaron and Hur were not by the side of Moses? God could zap the Amalek but He had chosen to use man. Who do you think was instrumental for the victory over the Amalek? Aaron and Hur? Was it Joshua? Was it Moses?

As we face our challenges, let's be the team at Rephidim … each playing our part. Moses, Aaron and Hur … they prayed because they knew the outcome depends on God and they prayed … until the sun set … the whole day! Need to persevere in prayer … and in ministry. As for Joshua and his men … they fought as if everything depended on them.

Ultimately, "The LORD is My Banner" (Exo 17:15).



Facing Challenges in Ministry | Foundations | Main Page


Author, Title or Subject:

Alan's Gleanings | Copyright © 2005 by Alan S.L. Wong