We all want to endure. No minister of the Gospel ever intends to get burned-out, fail morally, or lose heart for people. No one wants that! But enduring in ministry is really difficult. We all know stories of men and women who once had a fervent heart for God and His Church, but ended up with a cold heart and an inability to continue to do ministry. I don’t want that. You don’t want that.
I think it’s incredible how Jesus sent out His apostles to do the great work of ministry in Luke chapter 9. He called them, gave them power, then sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal. But when He sent them, He told them to leave everything behind. They couldn’t take bread, bags, money, not even a change of clothing. He told them to leave everything behind… except each other. He sent them out 2 x 2.
Jesus required His apostles to take with them the abiding friendships. He knew that money would run out, bread would turn stale, tunics and staffs would wear out… but endurance in ministry would come from the power of God and the abiding relationships with kindred souls. Endurance in ministry simply can’t happen without it.
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If we proclaim that Christ is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, then as a demonstration of the friendship of Christ, we have to be a community that sticks closer than brothers.
I have a lot of really good friends in my life. I’ve got a lot of acquaintances. I have many neighbors. But I have very few brothers that are knit to my soul and kindred with me. Very few are intentionally enduring with me until the end, and those are treasures that are not only good for my heart and walk with Jesus, but they are essential to my soul enduring until the very end.
These are the ones that are okay with sitting across the table from me, knowing every piece of my life and story who ask the really hard questions, not just because they’re a sort of accountability partner, but because they care about the health and the status of my heart more than they care about what job I do or what I create. They care about my soul.
I’ve had countless vulnerable conversations around my backyard table. I’ve had conversations where I’ve had my kindred look across the table from me and say, “Man, stay in the fight. Keep going. Fear not, Aaron. He’s with you. He’s abiding with you and so am I. So stay in the fight.”
Charles Spurgeon tells a story of a few of his abiding friendships in ministry. He said “My fair weather friends will flea away. I’d rather have a robin for a friend than a swallow, for a swallow abides with me in the summer time when it’s warm and when it’s beautiful but a robin comes to me in the winter when it’s cold and when it’s dark. Those are the type friends that will come nearest to me when I’m in the most distress but those are not friends that speed themselves away when ill times come.”
We cannot endure without the few kindred souls in our life that are closer than a brother, that are more loyal than a robin, that are knit at the soul level. These few carry us and abide with us. They stay with us. They endure with us. To be faithful gospel ministers, we must live in a community of kindred souls. To be the kindred of God and to have kindred with men, this is a great privilege of the Gospel, and certainly the only way to endure.