Ministry is a lot more painful than I would have imagined as a young, excited believer in Christ. Sometimes you pour your heart and soul into people, and then they say or do things that are extremely hurtful. I've tasted some measure of this, though my hardships are infinitely small compared to what many endure.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
Recently, 10 Publishing released a new little book from Tim Keller called The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, based on a sermon Keller preached on that passage. Here's a quote I especially enjoyed:
The only Person whose opinion counts looks at me and finds me more valuable than all the jewels in the earth. How can we worry about being snubbed now? How can we worry about being ignored now? How can we care that much about what we look like in the mirror?
Like Paul, we can say, 'I don't care what you think. I don't even care what I think. I only care about what the Lord thinks.' And he has said, 'There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,' and, 'You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.' Live out of that.
It is a daily battle, but I am laboring to expend grace-driven effort to live out of this gospel reality each and every day. It's the only way to survive in ministry...or in any walk of life, for that matter.