Monday, April 12, 2010

Soul Fuel--Part 1

It’s Monday! Welcome to Monday! It is that proverbial day when a lot of pastors scattered about the world have already loaded up their U-Hauls and determined that yesterday was their last Sunday wherever they may be serving. I would be very deceptive if I were to say that I have never had those days before. I think that those who say that they have never thought about loading up their U-Hauls are either seriously out of touch or not telling the truth.

Think about it for a bit. Pastors are firemen who have to constantly attend to putting out brush fires on various fronts. They have to bolster sagging marriages. They put up with criticism. They counsel those who are experiencing financial calamities usually that are self-induced. They have to keep everyone encouraged. They have to look across the way and see places that are seemingly booming and deal with that gnawing self-doubt that promotes self-pity. Add to this the incredible, overwhelming burden of the harvest. Sometimes the sheer volume of the job can be overwhelming.

A lot of men feel like they are pulling a train uphill and its brakes are firmly locked in. They work under financial hardship that may be personal but more often than not from the corporate body called the church. They have to preach hard things. Things that nobody wants to hear but are eternally important that they do hear it. They endure, suffer, work, climb, and generally pour it all out trying to do the work of God. This is what a man who shoulders the yoke of the ministry finds himself called to do. So what does he do to keep his soul fit to work out such a task? There are some things a man can do to fuel up his soul to help him continue this path.

Foremost, he has to trust in the sovereignty of God. That means that God is absolutely in control of every detail of life and ministry. God knows exactly where you are and has measured out every trial and difficulty measured out specifically for you. Don’t curse the darkness you may be in presently just believe that the entire situation has been tailor made for you.

I have come to understand that God is more concerned with me being saved than being comfortable. He is more interested in my holiness than my happiness. He is more concerned with my worship than my work. Keeping this in mind helps me from getting all the priorities from mixed up. Wherever you are standing is holy ground.

Holy ground is just as much in the courts of Pharoah as it was in the desert by the burning bush. Holy ground is still present whether you are confronting Korahs’ or on the mountain top with fire, thunder, and lightning accompanying the presence of God. Wherever your feet are in ministry, it is holy ground.

Back in 1994, I just sort of haphazardly purchased a little book. It literally is a little book in both shape and size entitled The Heart of a Great Pastor by H.B. London and Neil Wiseman. Periodically I pick this little book up and glance back at the scribbling in the margins and retrace the dog-eared pages. In the first chapter, they listed seven resources that are available in every assignment that you may find yourself in. You are where you are because God has placed you there and He has given you some things that will help you and the church grow.

Resource #1: Every Place is Unique—Just like individuals, every place has unique gifts, opportunities, and problems but they are still places to grow. God places us in the places He wants us to be because there is something He is trying to develop in us as well as the church we are called to serve.

Resource #2: Every Place Needs a Pastor’s Love
—An important quote, “The sheep grow restless without an attentive shepherd.” The presence of a pastor is crucial for our generation. Your church needs to see your example of personal godliness more than anything else. Our world is constantly in change and turmoil. It is a blessing for people to be able to come in week-in and week-out and look at you and see a model of consistency. Get into their lives and impact and influence them!

Resource #3: God Provides Supernatural Empowerment—Churches that are dead will never change their world. This places a premium on having a constant flow of the Spirit. More than one time, I have heard Pastor Anthony Mangun tell of when he was a kid growing up in that church in Alexandria on 16th and Day Street that his dad and mother would take a dead service and stand it on its head. Elder G. A. Mangun take up a tambourine and Sister Mangun would take up an old accordion and they would do a victory march (when was the last time you had one of those in your church????). They would march around that church singing and praying until the Spirit started moving. To my dear readers who resorting to nifty lights, cool power-points, and neat little 20 minute “life app” sermons, you are spitting in the wind. If you want a supernatural move of the Holy Ghost, you have to get engaged in the Spirit. It will cost you some meals as in fasting, it will cost you some time as in on your knees pleading with God to awaken that dead place you are pasturing, and it will cost you some passion as in you might have to look a little unprofessional in your preaching but it will have a huge impact on your church. (NOTE: This was not what London and Wiseman wrote, I just took the liberty with their #3 Resource.)

Resource #4: Every Place Needs Bible Preaching—This takes time and discipline to develop things to preach. You will never expose your church to the power of the Word until you get invested in the Word. Sound preaching will help us to grow. Preach hard things. . . preach challenging things. . . No coach has ever won a championship by not challenging, inspiring, and lifting his players to a level beyond mediocrity. Do this to your church with your preaching. Make them hunger for holiness, help them to desire prayer, give them a passion for the Word!

Resource #5: Every Pastor Is Distinctively Gifted—It took me a little while to get this one because I wanted to imitate somebody down the road and across the country. But consider this: Amos never would have worked in the courts of the kings but by the same token Isaiah wouldn’t have made much headway with the fig-tree farmers. The courtiers would have dismissed Amos as a redneck and the fig-tree farmers would have dismissed Isaiah as a stuck-up academic know-it-all. God used both of those prophets to bring His word to the right places. You are distinctly gifted to work exactly where you are at. Take the focus off of your inabilities and look at your God-given abilities. Don’t let self-pity wipe you out!

Resource #6: Every Setting Has Potential—If you have some folks who jerking your chain and making life generally miserable for you. Consider a couple of things. First, is your heart right? When you heart gets out of sorts, you can get out of sorts with good people. But if you heart is right, then I have a second consideration. There are ten people that can replace that one who appears to be the nephew of the Wormwood, as of the Screwtape Letters fame. It is a matter of you hunting them down and picking up your evangelism efforts.

Resource #7: Every Church Has Something to Give
—You may be thinking of your limitations; lack of youth, lack of funds, lack of spiritual maturity among new converts, lack of music, lack of good lay leadership, and so forth. In fact you can get so focused on your limitations that you not only want to load up the U-Haul, you just want to throw in the towel. . . if you could just find it! “We have been lulled into believing that the small church has little to offer. We have allowed the big-is-best mind-set to dilute the fact that when the church is the Church, it is a mighty instrument in hand of God regardless of size.”

Hey Pastor, Assistant Pastor, Youth Pastor, or whatever your title may be. . . a little fuel for your soul on this Monday. . . Trust in the sovereignty of God, He has you right where He wants you. . . If you are supposed to be somewhere else, He is quite big enough to pull all the strings to get you where you need to be. . .

More Later. . .

2 comments:

Pastor Buxton said...

As usual, you have found a way to put into words what many only muse in their minds. I thank God for your gifting and I thank you for sharing it. Have a great Monday and an even greater week. God Bless

Wittsplace said...

Bro. Harrelson:
Good evening!
Thanks so much for your encouraging post. I will be sending this out to all the ministers in our district. They need this on a Monday.
God Bless and keep up the good words.
Bro. Rick Wittmeier
Central Canadian District