For the last 3 years, I've taught Sunday school, then led Sunday worship, then returned in the evening to lead a prayer meeting / Bible study. When Sunday evening finally rolls around, it's not uncommon to let down emotionally, being both tired and thinking through personal interactions, comments and nuances of people's words. The temptation is to let the weight of the day crush my spirit at night, and to do this week in and week out. It's exhausting and many times I feel like a failure.
Reading Christian biography teaches me that this is not an uncommon feeling for pastors. Andrew Bonar wrote in his journals of times of discouragement and defeat, although our evaluation of him today would be as a faithful man of God. Wiersbe writes, "God's choicest servants rarely evaluate their own ministries with accuracy and balance, and often Bonar was too hard on himself." I certainly don't see myself as a "choice servant" but I am sure my personal evaluations are off more than not. Even in the life of Alexander Maclaren, a mighty expositor of the Word, we see that he was never satisfied with his own work. Again, Warren Wiersbe comments, "let God evaluate your ministry, for often when we think we are doing our poorest, we are really doing our best."
One final word from a reading tonight: Maclaren wrote to some students training for the ministry:
I thank God that I was stuck down in a quiet, little, obscure place to begin my ministry; for that is what spoils half of you young fellows. You get pitchforked into prominent positions at once and then fritter yourselves away in all manner of little engagements instead of stopping at home and reading your Bibles, and getting nearer to God. I thank God for the early years of struggle and obscurity. So let me lay down and rest tonight. There are many who have their opinions of me and point out my failures; there is an enemy of God who harasses and accuses, but there is One who judges with a holy standard, who has already declared me "accepted in the Beloved". These years have been filled with struggle but they are working to my advantage because they are shaping me into the man I want to be. It comes with a price, and that is okay, because I know the purpose.