Was aware of the Lord highlighting almost with a sense of fear Paul’s words to Timothy as I read them this morning, as words which should be given to anyone setting out on pastoral ministry with all its encounters with people in situations of vulnerability: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
The sense of the fear of the Lord stayed with me for hours for reasons I could not understand. Have just heard of the possible fall of another minister through inappropriate behaviour. I say it not in judgment. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls…”
Perhaps you are a pastor who right now are on the border of inappropriate behaviour. You may have crossed the border. Come clean now… you owe it to the Church, yourself, the honour of Christ, and to any people you have wronged and damaged in the process. Don’t let it emerge after your death…it will cause even more devastation to many then than if you come clean now.
If you have not quite crossed the border, stop sailing as close to the wind as you can. Stand back from the fire before you are burned.
Perhaps you need to at true accountability in place for your own safety, not just the formal legal type that may be there in the official structures of the church you are in which tends only to swing into action after an offence is discovered. Some of those I know who have fallen sexually and relationally walked away from accountability just before their fall…
For you perhaps this may fall into the category of “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” I hope so and yet hope not so at the same time, if you know what I mean, and you will if you know me…
Is the Church ignoring your Word from the Lord? Your message to the church is worthless if you are not fully involved in the church, part of that community that submits to one another out of reverence for Christ. There are quite a lot of voices these days telling the church what it should be doing and criticising church leaders for what they are not doing. These voices have no validity if not attached to loving and supportive involvement. They rarely change anything for the better.
Of course, true messengers from God may be ignored or heeded by the majority of God’s people, but they stay as part of the people of God in season and out, be it night or day, setting their hope in the mercies of God. Sticking with the people of God in the face of observable faithfulness or faithlessness around them, whether they are loved or sneered at, they sow seeds of light in tears: seeds that grow into something which one day, whether by them or others in generations still to come, will be harvested with joy. (Psalm 97 verse 11 and Psalm 126)
True “Rejected Prophets” stumble at times, but they live or die among the people of God, sharing in their triumphs and woes . False rejected prophets never stop licking their wounds…
If you have a gift from God be humble enough to learn from others about how to take the first steps in that gift, open to advice, learning, training and even correction. A gift from God can be enhanced by training. Anointing and gifting on the one hand and learning and training on the other are not exclusive. As you submit to that process you will progress in your gifting which according to Paul’s words to Timothy is what is meant to happen. Something unique arises in that process and progress. How your gift is meant to operate healthily through you will emerge in all its uniqueness. To say, “ Well, this is how the gift operates through me!” right at the start is a sure way of never finding the road towards progress and true uniqueness.
My preaching now bears little resemblance to 40 years ago when I took first steps in my calling, but I am so grateful for guiding hands, voices and influences from those days. As long as humanly speaking I have the capacity to preach and the opportunity to do so I still intend to make more progress towards the discovery of the anointing in its full bloom that God intended should grow from the seed He planted for His good will and pleasure.
To learn by helpful rules does not mean fresh adventures beyond previous horizons you had in view are prohibited.
What is the progress I am still pursuing? To be as thin a barrier as possible for an encounter with the Living God to happen for others.
I share these thoughts with you in the hope that you may be able to think them through in relation to your calling and gifting, that “place” where you feel most truly alive in serving God.
Some folk may “tut tut” at this, but this seal I took a photograph of a couple of days ago, is how I feel when I am preaching: I am in my zone, doing what I am made to do, bringing glory to my Creator and Redeemer by doing it! I enjoy it! I have never reached that stage others tell me I should aim for, namely, that one should only preach if it is the last thing in the world you want to do and you should feel like a man being dragged to his own execution and funeral! I feel a great joy in preaching! “Let me get in there and get on with it, Lord” is how I feel waiting to preach! Like a horse in the traps. Great joy in what you are doing can be a sign of death to self! I don’t care what the reaction is to what I preach so long as it is done under the smile of the Lord and honours His word as faithfully as He enables me to do at this stage of knowing Him in part.
Whatever your zone is, GET INTO IT! “ What larks!” Yes, I mean it! That is a prophetic word God gave me for someone not long ago. I questioned it, put on the TV at random and within 2 minutes or less, the phrase was spoken from a production of “Great Expectations.” “What larks,” when you take seriously the doing of the Holy will of the thrice Holy Lord God Almighty, even when hell’s fury is roused against you!