Serving God in the Off-SeasonDecember 5, 2013
In just a few more weeks college football will come to an end. The national champions will be crowned, the Heisman-winner will be awarded, and all the accolades will be dispersed. Headlines will cease, statistics will stall, top stories will dissipate, and the limelight for many highly-recognized athletes will fade away. It is called the off-season.
The off-season occurs in ministry as well.
Yes, there are those moments when everything clicks on all cylinders. There are those sermons that touch every heart. There are those Sundays that thrill us with spiritual zeal. There are those times when it feels as though God Himself is filling our mouths with every right and pertinent word.
Then, there are the off-seasons.
You know what I mean…the banners are gone, the crowd is silent, the words are hollow. You take your long, slow walk back to the locker room feeling as limp and lifeless as the towel you just threw to the ground. The off-season stinks, to say the least. And had not the Lord forewarned us about these periods of ministry, we may have reason to feel utterly hopeless. But the truth is, He did caution us about the off-season; they are part of the journey. So what are some things we should know about these less-than-exciting seasons of ministry?
1. Off-Seasons are Experienced by Everyone.
Ask any man of God who has been in the ministry for any length of time about the off-season. If he is honest, I am sure he can tell you about a few off-days in serving the Lord. Don’t feel defeated or dismayed if you are out of sync, you are not the only one.
2. Off-Seasons Actually Make You Stronger.
Think about college-football for a few moments. Think about the red-shirt freshman who struggles to find his place. He fumbles, misses blocks, makes mistakes. But then the off-season occurs. We works out, watches videos, studies his assignments. He comes back more prepared and more eager than ever before. The off-season made him stronger.
3. Off-Seasons Can Affect Your Emotions.
Even though off-seasons are designed to build wisdom, strength, and morale, they can be emotional. If not disciplined, you can allow those hum-drum, dull moments of the off-season to affect your psyche and spirit. It is easy to get off-track and lose focus and vision during the down times.
4. Off-Seasons are Experienced by the Entire Team.
An off-season is for the entire team, not just certain individuals. I have discovered something interesting – when I have an off-season, usually those around me are having them too. This serves to remind us that we are not alone, and that God designed these moments to be experienced together.
5. Off-Seasons Come to an End.
They typically end as quickly as they began. You may feel like you are a long way from the start up of a new season, but remember the words of the apostle Paul, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Simply put, be ready regardless of what season you are in. If you are in the off-season of ministry, just be ready to jump in as though the game could start today. The natural and divinely-designed nature of a season is that they have beginnings, but they also have endings.