I NEVER WANT TO GRADUATE FROM THE SCHOOL OF LEARNING (3)
In the last 2 blogs in this series I have been sharing keys to a long term ministry, and continue in that theme today. I so wish I had learnt some lessons earlier and quicker. Sometimes I had to learn the lesson more than once as I hadn’t really “got it”, I am so glad the Lord sees our heart and knows we really do want to live for Him and serve Him with all our hearts.
1.A lesson I have learnt, and need to continually learn is to guard my motives and attitudes. We need to regularly Ask the questions :
Why am I doing what I am doing ? Is it for my glory or His Glory?
Is what I am doing extending my kingdom or His Kingdom ?
2.The bigger challenge is maintaining the right attitude but also in the light of eternity. In ministry, I can guarantee you will have things said about you, and things said to you, that will really hurt. Too many have walked away from ministry because of hurts and disappointments. Unless we quickly bring it to the foot of the cross, a root of bitterness can spring up in our hearts and rob us of our joy and peace. Of course there will be a response in our hearts when these things happen, may the Lord help us not to let the response or reaction come through our lips. Although the Lord has given us a “new” heart we still are capable of sin. That is why Solomon urges us to guard our hearts.
I have in counselling told 100’s of students “your walk with God is more important than the “turkeys” work hard at maintaining your peace and joy in the Lord.
3.Another thing I have learnt is to live my life in “time” enjoying each day and every opportunity, but also to live in the light of eternity and the Bema seat. 1 John 3:2-3
4.I have learnt to maintain a spirit of faith, to be an optimist not a pessimist.
To confess the Rhema word that comes through meditation Rom. 8:17
Not to speak negatively , Prov. 18:21. Those words can produce death.
5.I came to see I needed a Mentor (even more than one) I wanted to learn from others who are examples of the life of faith, who have a resilient walk with God. I needed to break (and still do) the fear of man. In Asia I came to see “losing face” was a lie of the enemy we must learn to “speak the truth in love”.
6.I have sought to learn “to stay under the spout where the glory comes out”, to be continually filled with the Spirit Eph. 5:18 and not just come into His presence but learn to live in His presence.
7.I came to see I needed to have “an eye for the cloud”. Just as the Children of Israel needed to keep an eye on the cloud above the Tabernacle and be ready to move when it moved. So I need to wisely recognise when God speaks, because I want to be “established in present truth” 2 Peter 1.12 when he restores truth to his Church (and He still is). That I must search the Scriptures like the Bereans Acts 17:11 and seek to hold that new truth in balance. Here is a couple of O.T. verses that have a N.T. reality.
Is.7.9 We are only established if we believe
Is. 26.2 Those who keep the truths enter in.
8.I came to see I had to co-operate with the Lord and work on my character faults (a true Mentor will help).
9.In my first church (1960’s I had a minor nervous breakdown, and lost a couple of years of effective ministry. Now I look for the first signs of burn out and slow down and even get away for a few days. One can easily start working on “autopilot” in the ministry, we know all the right things to say and do, but this is not sufficient. For in everything, it is “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord”.
10.For me, I knew I was primarily called to be a Pastor (Shepherd) but I have sought to assist others who’s ministry was different to this, that whatever ministry we have we must have a shepherd’s heart. As ministry is all about people whether you serve on the sound desk, or serve coffee after a service. CHURCH IS ALL ABOUT JESUS AND PEOPLE.
11.Have you heard the saying that many pastors are bigamists (have 2 wives) ? Their no.1 wife is the church, and his real wife is at home sad, frustrated neglected. My family must be my first priority. My first most important sheep is my wife and children.
12.Just as naturally God puts in us a strong desire to reproduce, so in ministry we must reproduce leaders. Have you heard the saying “Unless you raise up a successor you are a failure” Dawson Trotman wrote an excellent booklet entitled “Born to reproduce”. This must be a conscious decision and practically worked out. We must learn to delegate and let others do much of what we do. So we have time “to give ourselves to the Word and prayer” and raising up of more Leaders. In practical terms unless we prepare the church for growth and revival, our growth will dissipate.
13.Hindsight is such a great teacher, I had to learn to recognise the stirrings of God within my spirit. God’s plan is always to lead us into a greater ministry, and as I have been obedient this has been my experience. Again talk to your Mentor and seek his guidance when you feel these stirrings, but are not sure which way to go. Here are 4 keys to help you confirm the will of God in your life.
- The peace of God
- What does the Word of God say ?
- Godly counsel
When these four line up you can move forward in the will of God.
14.I had to learn to come to terms with and be secure in my particular ministry, not to copy others but be the best me. Equally not limiting my ministry gifting but be available as the Lord leads’
15.I have had to learn not to be envious of another man’s ministry, nor see myself in completion with him, but pray for him to be his very best.
16.Mark 16:20 tells us that signs and wonders should follow the preaching of God’s Word, I expect and believe:
That souls will come to Christ
That God’s people grow up through the ministry of the Word
That people are healed and set free
That people are filled with the Spirit and us regularly use their prayer language..
17.Finally, a very practical and Biblical key is to “abstain from every appearance of evil “ 1 Thess.5.22. We must never be alone with a member of the opposite sex, to many ministries have fallen morally because they did not heed this command. I actually lost a church member, when I visited her, she said she was home alone, so I suggested we talk at the front door. She was offended. My ministry is too important to be lost by unwise actions.
In the Scriptures I have observed LEADERS WHO DIDN’T MAKE IT
- Saul committed suicide,
- Most of the kings of Israel and Judah
- Uzziah became a presumptuous leper
- Judas who sold out Christ
- In the last century we could name many who DIDN’T MAKE IT
I have also observed LEADERS WHO DID MAKE IT, T they were not perfect, but resilient
- Abraham faithful
- Jacob initially a supplanter who learnt to to wrestle with God
- Joseph Faultless
- Moses The meekest man
- Samuel The praying prophet
- Paul A martyr for Chrsit
- Peter Crucified upside down
- Apostle John a long life
- A long list in this last century such as: Billy Graham
This has been a lengthy blog, and many of the points I could sure develop much further. I do trust the above has been a challenge to you. If you need any clarification, or want to write and comment I would appreciate that very much.
May all who read this lay hold of the Biblical principles, and whether you are a “lay” person or in Eph. 4:11 ministry you will have a long fruitful God glorifying ministry.