Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

It is a sad fact that in the church of today most of the people standing behind the pulpit are not called. The ministry is no longer a “calling,” but a profession. The few who have truly been called face a lifelong battle against the temptation to compromise for the sake of survival. The true minister will quickly fall if he skips time alone with the Lord in prayer and meditation, seeking God’s will above his own. He will be tempted to pride of position—tempted by lust for power and material advancement. His attention can be subtly turned away from the Person of Jesus by religious substitutes, building programs, church activities, “success” through numbers, and the ever-present push to compete with the mega churches and their occultic “revivals”. It is human to be impressed by numbers, riches, popularity, etc. The true minister of Christ is not his own for Jesus is his Lord and Master. Every day of his life he seeks guidance from the Holy Spirit, not man. He will surround himself with wise counselors, but they must be men of integrity, humility and Spirit such as was Stephen in the Book of Acts, not “yes” men.

God will always be his final authority. He will apply scripture to himself first before he applies it to others. His heart passion is for lost souls, not church growth or his own comfort. He is a bondslave of Jesus Christ. He is a living sacrifice. He has no agenda outside of the will of God. He fears the Lord, thus he walks in wisdom and understanding. He is willing to lay down his life for the sheep that God calls him to minister to. He is no respecter of persons. His heart is open to the searching of the Holy Spirit, and he quickly confesses any and all thoughts and intentions of his heart that are toward the world, the flesh or the devil.

The true minister of the Lord will never forget that he is a man, that he is subject to temptation, that he has blind spots, that he can be “cast away” in the end if he does not keep his body, mind and soul in subjection and if he leaves his first love. The true minister of God who walks in the Spirit has discernment. (Sadly, it has been our experience that most pastors don’t have an ounce!) He quickly recognizes the difference between that which is of the Holy Spirit and that which is demonic. His banner is from John 4:24…SPIRIT and TRUTH. He never allows his own personal prejudices, standards, ideas, concepts or images to pervert and distort the truth of God.

True ministers exhibit the fruit of the Spirit and are benevolent.

On the other hand, you will run into (in large numbers) “professional pastors” who are adept at playing the game. Their goal is numbers, wealth and fame. They are polished CEO’s. You can see and hear them any time on so-called “Christian” TV, radio, magazines, in mega churches, etc. They have no time for the little lambs; they are too self-important. Their goal is fame and fortune. You never see them sacrificing their wealth for the poor, the homeless, the widows, the single parents, the helpless or to reach the lost for whom Jesus died. They preach that “gain is godliness” as opposed to scripture which states, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” 1 Timothy 6:6.

Jesus said, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” Matthew 23:11-12. Jesus made it clear that His sheep are benevolent, kind, loving, full of good works while the goats, which shall be separated into everlasting punishment, are full of self. (See Matthew 25:31-46) The Apostle Paul said, “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears…” (See Acts 20:19) The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:16,-17 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” James wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Truly, the word ‘minister’ means servant of all.