Perhaps the best time to buy or rent a house is after a storm. A heavy storm. You can see where the house leaks, where it is weak and vulnerable to the attack of the elements. It’s a full house here in NYC and after the big storm last night this truth is all too fresh for my wife and I – we woke up to standing water in her parents basement. Thankfully, everything is okay and after many loads of laundry and a few laughs we are getting ready for the day.
Now, you don’t usually get to call upon a thunderstorm right before you sign a lease or give a down payment, but soon enough the storm will come. When water starts appearing where it shouldn’t you find yourself on the hunt for leaks, seeps, drips and drops. Finding the source to the weakness and point of attack is crucial. If you do not find the source, or the initial point of attack, you can count on that specific leak coming back with a vengeance, causing more damage than it did originally.
This is a reality that every pastor or youth worker should understand. Let me explain.
Six months ago I inherited a youth ministry. While I would not consider myself “owner” (that’s God) I do feel very responsible to be a good steward of what He has entrusted to me during this season of life.
This ministry has endured a few storms- both prior to my coming and since my arrival- and I have had the opportunity to see its true colors, those areas where it is vulnerable for attack. Now, let’s go back to this morning. My wife and I wake up to standing water. Quickly we react- find a bucket, a towel, a shopvac, anything to maintain the leak and clean up the mess. But we don’t stop there; we search for the source of the leak. Once found, would it make sense to ignore it and go back to sleep? No. After doing damage control one should repair it, patch it, and reinforce it. We need to ensure that water is not going to seep in through that crack ever again.
While water was our enemy this morning, each day every one of us face a craftier enemy – Satan.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
Whether it be people- students, volunteers, fellow staff- or a personal struggle, I guarantee that you will endure attack from the enemy on every level. Your ministry will encounter strong winds, thunderstorms, and possibly a hurricane now and again. Stand your ground. Build your ministry to be ready for the attack.
Here are a few things to keep in mind during an attack:
- Do not inflict more damage by confusing the damage with the source of attack. I cannot be more straightforward than this: too many times we are quick to blame a person or focus on a current problem rather than searching out the source. Yes, humans do give into temptation, people say mean things, and as a leader people will follow you or rally against you. Perhaps a moral failure will cause dissension in your ministry or even a dark secret revealed will void the return of one of your all-star volunteers. We must remember that Satan is the tempter, the schemer, the one who is unseen and desires to stay unseen. He is plotting us against each other and aiming to tear us apart. Don’t forget your source of attack.
- You determine how others react. As the leader, people will mirror your reaction to the attack at hand. What you say will be repeated and how you handle the attack will show your team how they should handle the attack. If you have to reveal a weakness or problem area to your team, do so in such a way that points back to the enemy and reminds them that you have hope for the situation. If you do not respond well you may as well pour salt on the wound.
- Bear up arms against the enemy, be prepared with prayer and scripture. The Apostle Paul knew his enemy and was prepared for the attack. He was not content with simply sitting in defeat but rather found his strength and defense in something more than what the enemy could handle. He used divine communication to call upon the ultimate power! Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
- Victory has been promised. Despite the attack, hold on to the hope we have. Perhaps at times I am too eternally focused, letting the present pass me by. However, there is much hope found in our future as the Church. The enemy will be defeated once and for all – we must consider him as that, a loser. Shedding light on this hope and helping your team think this way can help get you over the hump and past the situation at hand. Spanning thousands of years, your attack is one of many skirmishes on a battlefield of millions.
- See the unseen. You must always be aware that you will often be unaware – you cannot see everything that takes place. I often pray for Elisha goggles! 2 Kings 6:17 – And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. Asking the Lord for wisdom, discernment, foresight, and processing skills is incredibly important. Pray for these things when you encounter attack or are trying to prevent one. Never underestimate the power of asking for these things.