When Sanguine Expectations Are Dispelled

If you're a pastor, you've got to read The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges.  If you have a pastor, get it for him.  Bridges knows my soul.  In his section on the difficulties of ministry he writes, 
But after all, the greatest difficulties derive their origin and power from ourselves.  The spiritual character of our employment - no more than secular occupations - exempts us from the conflict with our corruptions.  It is not easy to overcome our natural love of ease, our indisposition to self-denying devotedness, and our false tenderness in flinching from the declaration of unpalatable truths...

 Hence the danger, lest the powerful energy of the word should be weakened in its application to ourselves; lest we should gradually lose our relish for our work, excuse ourselves from its self-denying exercises, and sink into heartless despondency.  A course of opposition also to our message may stir up a selfish, unhumbled spirit.  Popularity is yet more dangerous...Symptoms of success, unless tempered with personal abasement and habitual watchfulness, excite to self-confidence.  The want of these tokens, on the other hand, is too often accompanied with impatience or despondency...

None of us will find "the pleasure of the Lord to prosper in our hands", except every effort is grounded upon the practical conviction, that no strength but the arm of Omnipotence is sufficient for the work.

Many of us, perhaps, had tasted in the prospect some of the delights and encouragements of the work; and in all the spring and freshness of youth had calculated upon a steady and uninterrupted devotedness rising above all opposing obstacles.  But scarcely had we passed the threshold, before the dream of confidence passed away.  The chilling influence of the world, and the disheartening effect of unsuccessful pains, soon made us conversant with disappointment, and dispelled our sanguine expectation of a harvest proportioned to our industry. 

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