Ministry Disappointments are God's AppointmentsHas this ever happened to you?

You have a God given dream to serve Him, and the opportunity arises to do something with it. You pray about it, consult with your oversight, and plan carefully. You tick (check) all the boxes and go ahead with your best intentions, believing you are obeying God.

But not far down the track, you encounter unforeseen obstacles.

Maybe you launched a new ministry, department or project, began some meetings, or finally stepped in the call of God for your life in a practical way. But it did not prove as effective or fruitful as you thought it would. Perhaps, you even had to cancel something. Maybe people who joined with you are hurting. Money and time you invested has been seemingly wasted. You feel crushed. And disillusionment looms.

If this sounds familiar to you—be encouraged. God is a Redeemer and Restorer, and He has something better up ahead.

Ministry Trials: God sees the Bigger Picture

In some seasons, God allows trials in our service for Him, because in His infinite love, His infinite grace, and His infinite wisdom, He sees the bigger picture and has something even better for us.

In fact, there are times when God allows us to go through tests, that in order to pass from Heaven’s viewpoint, we need to fail from a human perspective.

This is especially true when God is preparing His leaders and prophetic ministers. [1]

Missionary Giving turns to Receiving

22 years ago, as a young married couple, The Hunk and I had a call from God to release money into His Kingdom and to support missionaries in Asia. When an opportunity came up to purchase a business making Asian food, we prayed, processed it with our oversight. and believed God was in it.

However, when we got into the business, the projected income wasn’t there. We weren’t making enough to feed our young son and ourselves, let alone support missionaries.

One day, we went to the letterbox, and there was a letter from friends of ours who were on the mission-field. Inside was a large cheque to help with our needs.

Instead of us supporting missionaries, the missionaries supported us!

As it turned out, our vision was small, compared to what God had for us. A few years later—the business behind us—my husband stepped into the role of National Director for a mission agency. We were involved in sending long-term missionaries and short-term mission teams to Asia. We raised financial support for missionaries and church-planting projects, as well as evangelistic and humanitarian aid projects in Asia. What we originally intended to do alone, we were empowered to do alongside people and churches from all over New Zealand.

We needed the experience of living by faith financially, as well as the humility and character building that had come from our experience of ‘failure’ in serving God.

Empowerment in the Wilderness

David served Saul in the palace en route to his calling being fulfilled. What a shock it must have been when instead of favour and open doors, he ended up being hunted in the wilderness by the very one he sought to serve.

However the wilderness was part of God’s greater plan. The season in the wilderness honed David’s leadership skills, and formed the core leadership team that would serve him in the future. It developed David’s character, tried his faith, and positioned him for what was to come. [2]

When Adjustment is Needed

There are times when we have ‘blind spots,’ and God allows a trial to reveal the problem to us.  Maybe He wants to build something new into our character or vision. And so He allows a time of failure, from earth’s perspective, to birth us into a new season.

We have our eye on a short-term ministry goal. Father has His eye on the long-term prize of our calling and our intimate relationship with Him.

In 2 Sam 6, we read about a day in King David’s life, that was supposed to be one of his crowning achievements as King of Israel. It was the day he was to transport the Ark of the Covenant to its resting place in Jerusalem.

When David’s first attempt to move the Ark of God turned into a spectacular public failure, he could have remained disillusioned and angry. But instead, he turned to the Scripture, to find out what God had to say about the process. Having learned God’s prescribed way of handling the Ark, he set about organising the nation to do God’s work, God’s way.

As a result, in David’s Tabernacle, in an open tent, looking upon the glory of God, there was 24/7 worship and prophecy and praise—something that only happened in the Old Testament during David’s time. Even today, the Church globally is being inspired by the prophetic example of David’s Tabernacle.

It took failure to bring a needed adjustment into David’s life. God’s greater prize was a King who was not only a worshipper after God’s heart, but a ruler who honoured the Scriptures, the Word of God.


[1] John and Paula Sandford write of the prophet’s training in their book, ‘The Elijah Task’. Although some of the material is now outdated in perspective, this one point is priceless. Speaking of Elisha’s servitude under Elijah, they note: ‘Test after test was put upon the neophyte. The test was a success only if he failed to pass it! To learn that he could not succeed by his own soul’s resources was the first building block… of the prophet’s study course.’

[2] See 1 Sam chapters 16 – 26.

Related Posts:

Why is my Spiritual Gift or Ministry not being Released

Your Prophetic Word and Spiritual Warfare

When You Hit a Wall in your Ministry

Going Through a Testing Season in your Spiritual Gifts

What have you learned from attempts to serve God that have not turned out the way you envisioned they would? Do you have any insights or questions to share? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment in the box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.

© Helen Calder   Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

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6 thoughts on “When Ministry Doesn’t Work Out The Way You Expected”

  1. Helen, what a great word! i was especially struck by the last sentence… my personal failure in life about 8-9 years ago when in ministry brought exactly this fruit.. the absolute veracity of Scripture… without this experience in my life, i would have stumbled around in my own thinking, measuring the Christian walk against my experiences, rather than lining my life up against scripture. In a dark and lonely place, God showed his faithfulness to me, and to the Word, (well really, of course, as the Word made flesh is our Lord, Jesus….) and from that, i was able to find my true identity as a child of God, and He was restored to His rightful place. I am a worshipper, and many have said i am ‘a David’ to encourage me, but now i can see the need for balance, which was lacking in my life. Praise God, that He always brings light to dark places, He never forsakes us, He restores our souls, and yes, in mine, to do this there was a massive readjustment, evidenced through a failure, that he has redeemed! great word, thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Hi Ries, thank you for your note and awesome testimony. Love the faithfulness of God, He never fails to redeem and restore what we offer up to Him. May you be richly blessed in your walk with Him. 🙂

  3. I “stumbled” upon your blog a few months ago as part of my “school of the Holy Spirit” training in the prophetic. I wish I had this post a year ago when my husband and I experienced a public “failure” of establishing a new church. It was devastating when leaders took other members and started their own fellowships and other members dropped off to go to the “mega church” down the street leaving us having to move out of our space and into a faithful member’s home where even some family members don’t want to join us for worship because of the location. We didn’t quit in the process believing that God had not changed His mind about His call upon our lives. But in the process, He began to bring us into a deeper awareness of the apostolic/prophetic mantle He has given us. Had we not had this time of “setback”, we would have continued with a ministry that wasn’t going to properly express what He wanted to do through us. This post was comforting to me because it helped me to see that God allowed the “failure” only because He wanted to do something better and He had to stop us so that we could wait on Him to give more instructions. Thank you. This blog is really helping me in my training process in the prophetic.

    1. Hi Lynn, what a difficult experience, that must have been a really tough time and can be so difficult to process. I pray that you will receive the comfort of Holy Spirit in powerful ways and that your eyes will be opened to see the early signs of the spring / resurrection season coming your way. Wow, it will be interesting to see what amazing opportunities Father unfolds for you in your ongoing journey of ministry. May you both be richly blessed.

  4. I have found that during my personal Christian walk, when everything is cruising along and going easy – it is then that I am the least effective for Christ. Yes, it is comfortable when there is no risk for failure or setback, but I’ve discovered that in my comfort I don’t trust in God to work through me. I just go through the motions. I still love God, I still ‘serve’ him… but in my comfort I just do a bare minimum, which is so wrong. God doesn’t want me to be lukewarm, He wants me taking risks and trusting Him, even when there seems to be no way to get through the issue. Right now my husband and I are struggling in a ministry undertaking. We have taken some risks this year and are working hard with our church leaders to glorify God and spiritually grow the young people we work with. We are coming up against all kinds of opposition, we have lost support from some people when the road got rough, and God has used our example to challenge the ‘lukewarm’ in others – which has left us unpopular with some. These things are hard, and sometimes it feels like we are all alone – But God is good, He is with us even though things are tough and it seems like we don’t see any results. Even though we don’t always feel like it, my husband and I continue to praise God through this time, because regardless of what happens God will continue to be there for us, He will bless us and hold us tight. If we fail, then so be it, we can learn from it and move on – but until then we’ll struggle on, holding on to Christ. These last 6 months we have come closer to God as a couple and have learned to rely on Him in all things. Whatever happens, we know that God is faithful and good 🙂

  5. Hi Sal, it sounds as though things have been very stretching for you both in the ministry. I pray that you continue to be refreshed and receive an infilling of the Holy Spirit, to sustain you. Your response of praise positions you to receive powerfully from Him. Blessings to you both.

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