by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

In Monday’s post, we discovered that ministry is dangerous because there are pressures and trouble. We also saw in yesterday’s post that we have an adversary who works through wiles and schemes to trip us up and make us ineffective in the ministry or even to get us to quit. Now that we understand the “wiles of the devil,” let’s turn our attention to Satan himself and see what the Bible tells us about our adversary.

Be watchful! Satan is looking for someone to devour!

The Bible tells us much about this enemy and his cohorts. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is an adversary and that we should be watchful because he prowls around like a roaring lion just looking for someone he can devour. When we are not anchored in the Word, spending time in prayer, exhausted, overwhelmed, ill, or too busy to pay attention to his trickery, we make it easy for him to devour us.

Yes, he prowls, and he often disguises himself. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says he describes himself as an angel of light. It isn’t very hard to figure out that it is much less scary to encounter an angel of light than a dark, terrifying demon. But if he can disguise himself to Christians and confuse them, he has a chance to win another round on the spiritual battlefield.

John 8:44 calls him a murderer. This same verse calls him the father of lies, saying there is no truth in him.

Hebrews 2:14 says he holds the power of death.

1 John 5:19 says that the whole world lies in his power.

Ezekiel 28:17 says that his heart was proud because of his beauty and that he corrupted wisdom.

In the book of Job, we find that he roams the earth from one end to the other and comes before God looking for permission to test and try us.

Revelation 12:10 calls him our accuser and in Ephesians 6:16 we learn that he has fiery darts. And when he steps up for a game of darts, we (Christians) become his bullseye.[1]

Satan uses us for target practice

For those of us who serve in any type of ministry capacity, we are even bigger targets. Because we are recruiting more soldiers for the Lord’s army, Satan’s biggest desire is to trip us up. He wants nothing more than to see us stumble because we help Christians grow and mature who then find their calling and begin to serve in some compacity. If he can use his wiles to make us think that what we do for the kingdom of God doesn’t make a difference, we just might decide to get out of the game or sit on the sidelines – or to at least sit out the next round in the +

Whether your ministry position is a pastor, paid staff, CEO or board member of a ministry organization, volunteer, nursery worker, small group leader, greeter, parking attendant, or janitor, if you are serving the Lord in what you do, you are a target. And every single day, Satan is using you as target practice for his fiery darts.

Dear Servant of Christ, Satan wants nothing more than for you to burn out and quit serving God because then your God-influence on the world ends the moment you walk away from your calling. Or if he can keep you under pressure and trouble so that your effectiveness in the ministry is hindered, then he still sees that as a win for him. If you give in to compassion fatigue or allow stress to give way to anxiety you lose your full impact to the Kingdom. You are a Christian soldier, fighting for the King of kings and the battle needs you.

What is Satan’s goal?

While every Christian will experience attacks from Satan, the moment you answered God’s call with that obedient “yes” to serve in your ministry position, Satan became much more interested in you and his goal is to make you less effective in the work God has called you to do or to get you to quit. He will place doubts in your mind, making you think you are not qualified, or you don’t have the resources needed for the task to which God has called you. Satan will even work through the lives of those to whom you minister to bring about stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue. He will use the people who should be your biggest supporters to make you feel unworthy of the call. Whatever it might look like in your life, Satan’s goal is the same: to get you off the battlefield.

Pressured in every way

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are pressured in every way…” (HCSB). Every. That means not just the pressures we experience in the ministry. There are pressures in finances, marriage, raising children, home and auto repairs, friendships, health, and every single part of life. Satan won’t settle for attacking just your ministry. He won’t settle for attacking us where we are most able to defend. He will attack in every way, and you can bet he will choose our most vulnerable areas. [2]

When we say “yes” to God’s call for any type of ministry, we do indeed have an invisible target that we wear 24/7. A target at which Satan is constantly throwing those flaming arrows (Ephesians 6:16) at us with the sole purpose of either destroying the ministry to which we have surrendered, or to tarnish it, or whatever it takes to get us to walk away, defeated.

Why does Satan fight so hard?

If Satan had his way, we would be waving the white flag of surrender in this spiritual battle we fight rather than being a surrendered, living sacrifice to God. When Satan gets his way, we are defeated, discouraged, less effective or even ineffective. Why does Satan fight so hard? Because a soul that is a surrendered, living sacrifice to God is very dangerous to the kingdom of darkness – but very powerful for the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, at the very least, he wants us discouraged, floundering in our faith, limping along from the wounds, exhausted, with nothing left to give. Sometimes, moment by moment we struggle just to put one foot in front of the other one more time.  Other times, we feel like we are on our hands and knees just struggling to crawl along, but those pesky minions have a firm grasp on one of our ankles and keeps pulling us backwards.  At that point, we either give up and walk away from the calling God gave us, or we might keep on serving in the ministry, but we do so while operating on empty tanks and therefore become less effective – or even ineffective. We lose sight of the passion, the purpose, and the call that God gave us.

Take a moment and answer this question: “What is your why?” In other words, why did you feel called to the ministry in which you serve? What compelled you? What need did you see that God wanted you to meet? And what Scripture verse spoke to you? Write out your “why” and keep it in a place where you will see if often.

Recalling our “why” can often help us rekindle the passion and purpose of our calling. Don’t lose sight of your “why.”

Called does not mean excluded from Satan’s attacks

Just because we tie it up with a pretty bow of “a calling from God,” does not mean we are excluded from the dangers that come with helping others. People in ministry empathize with the hurting. Sometimes they experience secondary trauma as they listen to and counsel the people to whom they are ministering. There are overwhelming demands on their time, emotions, and energy. It takes a toll on their physical and mental well-being, relationships, and ministry. The dangers that people in ministry face are daily and they come at us from all directions and from all kinds of sources, just as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8. 

Satan sometimes uses people as His weapon of choice

One of the biggest dangers Satan hurls our way is often manifested through the very people to whom we are ministering. It comes through the people who are never happy no matter what we do. It comes through those who make accusations (truth or lies). He uses people to form attacks on your emotional well-being. It comes through attacks on our faith when Satan uses people to get us to doubt the call we receive from God.[3]

Not only does Satan use the people to whom we are ministering, but he also uses the people who are on his side of the battle. The unbelievers. The lost. Satan will stir these people up against the faith of Christ and make the pressure and trouble of ministry seem unrelenting.

Whether through verbal attacks, emotional attacks, or physical attacks, those serving in Satan’s army try to stop us from sharing the gospel. They do not want to be confronted with their sin. Nor do they do not want to hear about the consequences of their sin. Rather, they want to continue living the way they want to rather than submitting to God. So, they try to stamp out God and curse His name. They remove the Ten Commandments from government buildings. They change the laws to “redefine marriage.” Or they protest in favor of abortion. We’ve also seen these people walk into a church service and begin shooting.

Knowing the adversary is vital to overcoming him

God does not want us to be ignorant about Satan. He wants us to be able to recognize his lies, wiles, and schemes. So, He told us everything we need to know about him so that we can have victory and overcome his temptations. If we do not take the time to know what God told us about Satan, then we will be easily duped and find ourselves defeated time and time again. Just as we come to know God more through His word and as we experience Him at work in our lives, so do we come to know and understand how the devil operates. Do not go into battle without first knowing who your adversary is and what his battles plans are.


[1] And with thousands of years of practice, he has very good aim!

[2] Incidentally, gold, in its natural state, is ugly and full of impurities. It is only when it goes through the pressure of being refined that’s its impurities are removed, and its beauty is revealed. God can use the pressures in our lives to refine us so that His image is reflected within us.

[3] You know you the name of a dear saint just popped in your mind. Stop and pray for him or her.

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