Brian McLaren, in his 2010 address to the 187th Commencement of the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Virginia (VTS) warned the graduates of two equally deadly ministry dangers.
“You will learn that there are two paths of martyrdom – one leading into the den of ravenous lions and the other through the valley of nibbling ducks. And as all the veterans of ministry will tell you, unless you guard your heart well, unless you pay careful attention to your own soul, you will be nibbled and hobbled and worn down by the ducks at your ankles just as effectively as by the lions at your neck.”
Anyone who has been in full-time ministry for more than about 15 minutes will know that McLaren speaks a difficult truth, especially as religious interest wanes in the 21st century, the threat of death by nibbling ducks is ever-present. Of course, this really is nothing new. Even Paul knew of the dangers to the Gospel that everyday life poses.
As he opens his letter to the Church in Colossae, Paul gives thanks for their faithful ministry, while offering prayer for their ongoing struggles, “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
Patience can be hard to come by when the world seems hellbent on pecking you to death from the ground up, but in Christ, we are able to endure even the most mundane of hardships. As congregations around the globe prepare themselves for another program year, may each of us be made strong with the strength that comes from God alone, that we might each be prepared to endure every trial with patience and joy.