Discouragement-Distraction-Division (DDD) ... Three primary tools the enemy uses against anyone attempting any kind of Kingdom ministry. We have found DDD especially true in our own missionary work as church planting catalysts.
Discouragement. One of the big battles of anybody involved in trying to plant a church is giving up too soon. There is plenty of despair, and discouragement along the path to seeing a new church planted. For every step forward, there are usually two or more steps backwards! So much effort goes into reaching people, ministering to them, only to see them fizzle within days or weeks of coming to know Christ. Over and over plans are made, only to not turn out the way we hoped. We begin to look at others around us, see their success, and compare it to our own mediocre efforts. Discouragement often leads to depression. We give up hope that anything good will ever come from anything we try to do.
Distraction. If the devil can't keep us from committing to winning others to Christ, discipling, baptizing and teaching, what he will do is seek to distract us from the task by bringing a host of good things into our path to compete for our attention. While "good," most of these things tend to lead us away from our focus. We get caught up in programs, conferences, events, current issues, entertainment, the tasks of daily life, and before we know it find ourselves totally distracted and diverted from our calling to make disciples of the nations. Our time is filled with so much stuff that there is little or no time left for the Kingdom. This seems to especially be the case in our contemporary, modern, urban lifestyles.
Division. This tool is always present in all Kingdom work, old and new alike. The tendency to divide over some issue or problem. I have yet to see a single new church that isn't faced with this early on. Most often, the issue is something minor, yet gets magnified way out of proportion to its merits. This leads to the taking of sides and ultimately believers are faced with a split. I have seen everything from someone's dreams, jealousy, power struggles, doctrinal issues, personality traits, sin--really any and everything can be used to divide a group of believers. Our own "correct" point of view takes precedence over Christ's command to "love one another." The only victor when we give in to division is the enemy.
We have had our fair share of all three D's. One thing that has helped over the years is to realize these are the Ephesians 6, "schemes of the devil" that the enemy uses against us. In a real sense, when confronted with DDD we can be assured we are on the right track in that the enemy is worried enough to step in and try to oppose us. When DDD comes our way, Paul exhorts us to, "take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm."
Ephesians 6:14-17 describes the armour of God we are to put on. We are told to 1) pray at all times in the Spirit, 2) be on the alert with all perseverance, 4) petition for all the saints, and 4) to pray on my behalf (to have others praying for us). In all my encounters with DDD, how often do I take seriously the remedy that Paul lays forth in Ephesians 6? Maybe that is why I feel so helpless in the face of DDD. I am simply not heeding the remedy offered in Scripture.
How do you deal with DDD in your life and ministry?