This week I received word that a friend and ministry partner had taken his life, leaving behind a wife and young children. I was shocked. I am still in shock.
The last time I heard from him was through a note he had sent me expressing bright hopes and dreams for his nation and the young people that he felt called to minister to.
His last post on Facebook before he took his life was “No plot will work”.
I read through his posts of the last year, which were a running commentary of highs and lows, expectation and disappointment, great hope and crushing hopelessness.
I grieved as I considered his last moments when he saw no plot, no storyline and no narrative that was going to unfold the way he had anticipated or dreamed. I was saddened to think that in that moment my brother in Christ couldn’t see the big story he was meant to be a part of.
I admit that the pressure of ministry life is intense; but I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that some of the greatest pressures ministers face are often self-imposed.
The combination of a minister’s passionate calling, the weight of carrying peoples burdens, the human tendency to compare, a theology of work—any or all of these can work together to create a false state of Messianic identity. They can tyrannize self-expectation to the point of destroying one’s ministry, or even shattering the soul.
Satan knows where to attack those who are doing Christ’s work. He begins to plant little doubts or mistruths in our minds, trying to convince us that it is our work, our actions and our faith that we must orchestrate to produce the right plot. We begin to think we are writing our own stories and that our decisions control the narrative.
In these broken moments, I am poignantly reminded that utter dependence on Him is our only hope. No plot of our own making will work. In and of ourselves we are lost. He is The Lord of our lives and The Lord of the harvest.
Romans 4:18 gives us a prescription for ministry sanity:
“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples.”
Modern leadership doctrine has allowed a ruthless egoism to be esteemed as “the standard” for far too many in the Church. I have to remind myself literally every day not to look at the things that are seen, but instead to focus on the things which are unseen, for the things that are seen are temporal but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)
The story Christ is writing through our lives is glorious, abundant and eternal. No matter what rough chapters we might face today or tomorrow, His plot works.
Originally posted Nov 13, 2013
5 thoughts on “No Plot Will Work”
Excellent reminder Rob. This quote really struck me : Modern leadership doctrine has allowed a ruthless egoism to be esteemed as “the standard” for far too many in the Church.
I don’t know you, but I saw your article when a friend “liked” it on FB. While I completely agree with the truth that we need to look to God’s power and not rely on our own, don’t forget that medical conditions, not just “egoism,” can result in depression and other similar conditions affecting the brain and mood. Only blaming this minister’s death on a failure in trust in God may discourage others from seeking treatment from a physician, just as they should for a cancer or broken limb. Treatment — as well as trust in God for both healing and guidance towards the best treatment — can save lives.
Totally agree with you. My friend was in medical care, on medication, etc. we know that the circumstances and pressures of our lives and vocation are contributing factors no matter how much psychiatric care we are receiving. This was merely to encourage, particularly ministers like my friend to be careful with their life and ministry.
Rob, this is a tragic story. As we grapple with ministering to the lost, least and left-behind, we need to see the urgency of the Gospel reaching each of us deep inside. There is nothing that will bring us hope than the resurrection. When hope dies, resurrection surges through giving us light to life. May God be gracious and merciful to this man’s family. Thank for the reminder that it all about God’s work.
Thank you for the powerful reminder. For those of us in ministry positions it can often feel overwhelming and hopeless. This is truly an encouragement.