Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Pastoral Ministry (page 1 of 4)

The Reminder Wrapped in Our Assignments

“… Jesus calls disciples to tasks beyond their abilities, and the fact that the tasks surpass their abilities is evidence that the ministry is Christ’s, not theirs.” (James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, p.281)

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone . . .” (2 Timothy 2:24a)

“… for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

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Authority and Respect

“… no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me …” (2 Corinthians 12:6b)

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Paul had found it necessary to defend his ministry to the Corinthian believers because of some “super apostles” (11:5, 13; 12:11) who had come into their midst. In that uncomfortable position he felt forced into a certain “boasting.” So he boasted in his hardships and humiliations (11:22-33) and only then turned to his revelations and spiritual experiences (12:1-5). He stopped himself at that point insisting that no one “credit [him] with something beyond what he sees in [him] or hears from [him].”

Paul’s general approach and these specific words are instructive to me.

Most boasting is merely an attempt to present yourself to another as something more than you’ve been able to evidence through your actions and words.

Paul insists that the proof of one’s authority and worthiness of respect reside in demonstrable actions and words in a specific relationship, not in victories or triumphs in other realms and relationships. I am only as good as my ministry to you. I am only as worthy of respect as my words and actions with you demand. Titles, reputation, accounts of other triumphs matter little to the person who stands before me at this moment.

If I have not demonstrated the character of Christ in my relationship with you, my stories of other triumphs will matter little. If the Spirit has not found ways to express His sweet graces through me in relationship to you, why should my track-record elsewhere with others shape your view of who I am?

The immediacy of Christ’s presence through His Spirit made manifest in our words and actions is the only calling card any of us in ministry really have … or need. Let us be known for His present presence in us and made manifest through us. If we are to be respected at all, let it be for what Christ has done through us. Let my reputation with you hang upon the present grace of Christ that actively flows between us by His Spirit.

Weary Pastor. Tired Ministry.

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“A preacher had better stop in his tracks if he finds himself moving from the apostolic to the mechanistic stage; he had better do something radical then and there. He had better drop everything and get into the woods with his Bible and read until he has a new Bible and pray until he has a new prayer, and come back a new man with a new message. A lot of churches think they need a new preacher when they simply need the same preacher renewed. Many a preacher thinks he needs a new pastorate when he needs to be renewed in the same pastorate. Robertson of Brighton wanted to resign from the ministry, but God impressed him that what he needed was to have his commissioned re-signed.

Not every preacher loses out because he went into false doctrine or had a moral breakdown. Some leave their first love in a round of church duties. Perhaps more leave it that way than in any other, for it is so deceptive: they are not aware of getting over it. They work at it harder than ever, but the harder they work, the farther they get from the thing they started to do.” (Vance Havner, “You’ll Get Over it!” in Jesus Only, p;.38-39)

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