Messy Ministry

by Diana C. Derringer

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”

(Hebrews 12:3 NIV).


Ministry gets messy. All too often we expect a life of perfection when we follow Jesus. However, our world remains filled with turmoil, conflict, disaster, and sorrow. We reach out to others in Jesus’ name and frequently get our overtures spurned in no uncertain terms. We work with fellow believers whose ideas differ from our own. Time after time our efforts appear to fall flat, and we wonder what went wrong.

Our writing life also reflects that truth. We feel God’s call to share our gifts but face repeated rejections. We discover multiple differences in publishers’ expectations. What works with one guarantees a closed door with others. We write, edit, and rewrite until our eyes and brains blur. When we finally push the submit button, we wait … and wait … and wait. Never hearing hurts as much as, or worse than, an outright rejection.

Yet, Jesus never promised an easy life. In fact, he lived and taught the opposite. Jesus suffered ridicule, torture, and death from those he came to serve. His followers misunderstood and, at times, undermined His mission. Religious leaders and others in authority resented and rejected His message. Nevertheless, Jesus never stopped teaching or reaching out to everyone in love.

Our most powerful messages often occur in the midst of our worst times. Personal difficulties enable us to minister with spoken and written words to those who hurt. Because of our struggles, they listen to what we say.

Writing setbacks challenge us to keep going and growing, to keep honing our words until our manuscript provides the clearest, cleanest message possible. Jesus gave His best. Our service in His name deserves no less.

When we follow Jesus’ example in both our personal and professional lives, we rest assured of His never-failing guidance, peace, and presence. We give thanks for the mundane and the miraculous, especially when our messes become ministry moments.


God, guide us to live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loved, regardless of our circumstances or the responses we receive. Amen.



Diana Derringer is author of Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary: 12 Dramas for Christmas, Easter, and More! She writes for several publications and enjoys traveling with her husband and serving as a friendship family to international university students. She offers life lessons from English expressions at

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