R. Kent Hughes on Ministry from: Disciplines of a Godly Man
Once again, I found another section well worth your thoughts. This section is from the second to last chapter of the book on the Discipline of Ministry. I hope you give this section some thought!
“For men who claim the name of Christ, there are two distinct courses of life available. One is to cultivate a small heart. This by far seems the safest way to go because it minimizes the sorrows of life. If our ambition is to dodge the troubles of human existence, the formula is simple: avoid entangling relationships, do not give yourself to others, and be sure not to seriously embrace elevated and noble ideals. If we do this, we will escape a host of afflictions.
The life principle bears out in other logics in life as well. Cultivate deafness and we will be spared hearing the discords of others. Cultivate blindness and we will be shielded from seeing ugliness. If we want to get through life with a minimum of trouble, all we have to do is wear blinders. This is how so many people, even those who profess to be Christians, get through life with such ease – they successfully nurtured smallness of heart.
The other path is to cultivate a ministering heart. Open yourself to others, and you will become susceptible to an index of sorrows scarcely imaginable to a shriveled heart. Enlarge and ennoble your ideals, and your vulnerability will increase proportionately…
Enlarge your heart, cultivate your heart, discipline yourself for ministry, and you will enlarge your experience of pain. This is an irrefragable axiom. No one has ever cultivated a ministering heart and lived to tell a life of ease.
Of course the effect of these two kinds of hearts are drastically different. Little hearts, though safe and protected, never contribute anything. No one benefits from their restricted sympathies and vision. On the other hand, hearts that have embraced the disciplines of ministry—though they are vulnerable—are also the hearts which posses the most joy and leave their heart print on the world.
Cultivate deafness and we will never hear discord, but neither will we hear the glorious strains of a great symphony. Cultivate blindness and we will never see ugliness, but we will never also see the beauty of God’s creation. Or to put this in terms of pour common experience, never play baseball and you will never strike out, but you will also never hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth will bases loaded to win the game! Never climb a mountain and you will never get banged up on the mountain’s side, but you will also never stand on an alpine peak exulting in abundant natural beauty.
Cultivate a small heart and life may be smooth sailing, but you will never know the heady wind of the Holy Spirit in your sails and the exhilaration of being used by God. Cultivate a small heart and he will never be the heroic likes of Gilmour of Mongolia, and you will certainly never have the heart God desires for you.
We only have to glimpse at a newspaper to be reminded that we live in a time when there is an urgent need for enlarged, caring hearts which are disciplined for ministry. Some of you are experiencing the elevating, frightening stirrings which accompany the enlarging of the heart, and you need to be encouraged to cultivate your expanding sympathies and broadening horizons. If so the Biblical account we are about to consider—the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well—is for you because it brilliantly showcases Jesus’ own discipline of ministry, one we are to imitate as His followers.”
 Hughes, R. Kent (2006). Disciplines of a Godly Man (211-213). Wheaton, IL: