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Ministries

Whose Kingdom?

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This article is not just for pastors or those in full time ministry. It applies to all of our lives and it is worth your time. Read. Pray. Seek the Lord. Whose kingdom are you living for? 

 

It took God employing pastoral hardship for me to embrace the inescapable reality that everything I did in ministry was done in allegiance to, and in pursuit of, either the kingdom of self or the kingdom of God. This truth is best exegeted for us in Matthew 6:19-34. (Please grab your Bible and read the passage.) I’m convinced that this passage is an elaborate unpacking of the thoughts, desires, and actions of the kingdom of self. Notice the turn in the passage in verse 33, where Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God.” The word but tells us this verse is the transition point of the passage. Everything before it explains the operation of another kingdom, the kingdom of self. This makes the passage a very helpful lens on the struggle between these two kingdoms that somehow, some way, battles in the heart of everyone in ministry.

In this article I want to examine four treasure principles that emerge from this passage that I find helpful as I seek to examine the motivations of my own heart in ministry.

1. Everyone lives for some kind of treasure

We’ve been designed by God to be value-oriented, purpose-motivated beings. God gave us this capacity because he designed us for the worship of him. So what you do and say in ministry is always done in pursuit of some kind of treasure. Now you will recognize that there are few things that are intrinsically valuable. Most treasures have an assigned value. So the familiar saying says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This side of eternity, here’s what happens to all of us: things begin to rise in importance beyond their true importance and set the agenda for our thoughts, desires, choices, words, and actions. What is the battle of treasure about? It’s daily working to keep what God says important in our personal lives and ministries.Pastor, what’s important to you in ministry?

2. The thing that’s your treasure will control your heart

Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The heart, being the summary term for the inner man, could be characterized as the causal core of your personhood. What Jesus is saying here is profound. He’s suggesting that there’s a war about treasure that’s being fought at the center of what makes you think what you think, desire what you desire, and do what you do. Whether you are conscious of it or not, your words and actions in ministry are always your attempt to get out of it what’s valuable to you.Pastor, what are the deep heart desires that shape your everyday words and actions?

3. What controls your heart will control your behavior.

Remember that by God’s design, we’re worshipers. Worship isn’t first an activity; worship is first our identity. That means everything you and I do and say is the product of worship. So the treasures (things that have risen to levels of importance in my heart) that rule the thoughts and desires of my heart will then control the things that I do. The war between these two kingdoms in ministry is not first a war of behavior; it’s a war for the heart. If I lose this deeper war, I’ll never gain ground in the arena of my words and actions.Pastor, what do your words and actions reveal about what’s truly important to you?

4. Your functional treasures are always attached to the kingdom of self or the kingdom of God.

Christ really does give us only two options. Either I’ve attached my identity, meaning, purpose, and inner sense of well-being to the earth-bound treasures of the kingdom of self or to the heavenly treasures of the kingdom of God. This is an incredibly helpful diagnostic for pastoral ministry. Consider these questions:

  • The absence of what causes us to want to give up and quit?
  • The pursuit of what leads us to feeling over-burdened and overwhelmed?
  • The fear of what makes us tentative and timid rather than courageous and hopeful?
  • The craving for what makes us burn the candle at both ends until we have little left?
  • The “need” for what robs ministry of its beauty and joy?
  • The desire for what sets up tensions between ministry and family?

Could it be that many of the stresses of ministry are the result of us seeking to get things out of ministry that it will never deliver? Could it be that we’re asking ministry to do for us what only the Messiah can do? Could it be that in our ministries we’re seeking horizontally what we’ve already been given in Christ? Could it be that this kingdom conflict is propelled and empowered by functional, personal gospel amnesia? When I forget what I‘ve been given in Christ, I will tend to seek those things out of the situations, locations, and relationships of my ministry. Pastor, in what ways are you tempted to seek from your ministry what you’ve already been given in Christ?

You see, the biggest protection against the kingdom of self is not a set of self-reformative defensive strategies. It’s a heart that’s so blown away by the right-here, right-now glories of the grace of Jesus Christ that you’re not easily seduced by the lesser temporary glories of that claustrophobic kingdom of one, the kingdom of self.

 

http://www.paultripp.com/articles/posts/whose-kingdom

Your Pastor Needs YOU!

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October is Pastor Appreciation month and this article gives some practical ways to support and encourage our seven pastors here at HBC. Do your part of keeping the Body of Christ healthy and working together for His glory. It is also important to remember that appreciation, affirmation and prayer support of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year, not just this month.

“Will you pray for me as a minister of the gospel? I am not asking you to pray for the things people commonly pray for. Pray for me in light of the pressures of our times. Pray that I will not just come to a wearied end—an exhausted, tired, old preacher, interested only in hunting a place to roost. Pray that I will be willing to let my Christian experience and Christian standards cost me something right down to the last gasp.” — A.W. Tozer, “Pastoral Ministry: Please Pray for Me”

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Six ideas on how you can stand behind and alongside of your church’s pastor and leaders

Pastors are under attack today in every denomination and in every country. They are attacked from within their own churches by disgruntled attendees, within their own spirits by our enemy the devil, and from without by those who don’t even attend or aren’t members of the churches pastors have the privilege and responsibility to lead.

It’s no wonder so many pastors are often discouraged, exhausted, frustrated, and in their minds (if not in actuality) have tendered their resignations. Pastors move from church to church or from church to another line of work at an alarming rate. Some of this could be greatly reduced if they received more affirmation and encouragement from those they lead, especially those who are younger.

I am well beyond the teens and 20s (74 at the end of 2013) but in my 45 years of ministry I have worked with lots of young people both with the Navigators and at Mars Hill Church. Many young adults hang back and stay on the fringes of church, afraid or reluctant to commit themselves. But as you deliberately support and encourage your pastor, you will identify yourself as someone who’s on board and positive, and potentially someone whom your pastor can begin to invest in.

Today’s pastors need to focus on developing the next generation of leaders in their respective churches because young adults are the future of the church. It is, therefore, incumbent on young adults to especially be aware of how they can help, support and encourage their pastor(s). Here are some of my ideas on how you can stand behind and alongside of the pastor God has allowed to lead the church you call home.

1. Pray for your pastor.

Undoubtedly, the most important thing you can do to help your pastor be fruitful and effective in his role is to pray for him. You can use passages such as Ephesians 1:15-23Ephesians 3:14-20 and Colossians 1:9-12 to pray for your pastor(s) and other leaders.

  • Pray for him daily.
  • Pray the Lord will give him wisdom in his various responsibilities in the church he serves.
  • Pray for his role as both husband and father (if he is married and has children).
  • Pray the Lord will protect him in the area of sexual purity.
  • Pray he will experience courage and anointing in his preaching/teaching.
  • Pray he would be able to strike a good balance between his ministry, family and personal life.
2. Encourage your pastor.

Lots of people will criticize and find fault. They will both email him and talk to him (and about him) in discouraging ways. You can be one of those who look for ways, and reasons, to encourage him — to camp on the positive, not the negative.

Tell him what you appreciate about his ministry, and be specific. What has he recently done or said that you have profited from? After he preaches/teaches, go out of your way to tell him how it has blessed you. A pastor’s teaching/preaching help many, but few tell him specifically how he has been a help and blessing.

Every once in a while, write a personal note telling him you are praying for him and appreciate something he has said or done. Once again, be specific. For example, “When you said in a recent sermon that Jesus totally understands me and deeply loves me, that ministered to me because I am going through a difficult time right now and feeling lonely, and that is exactly what I needed to hear.”

3. Submit to your pastor’s leadership.

The Bible is clear on the topic of being willing to submit to the authority in the church you have chosen to be a part of. (I am not suggesting, nor does the Bible suggest, that you submit to ungodly or abusive leaders.) Here are two such passages talking about submitting, respecting and following your leaders.

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13).

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

By being a regular attender/member at your church, you are placing yourself in a position to be taught, shepherded, led, and discipled by your church’s pastor(s) and other leaders. It is an awesome step to accept God’s call to be a pastor and to take seriously the roles and responsibilities that such a call entails. You should be able to trust, believe in, and submit to those the Lord has placed in authority over you. If you can’t do this, you need to address this issue, and in extreme cases, leave if you can no longer respect and trust the leadership over you; more on this in point six.

4. Get to know your pastor.

A pastor, at times, has a lonely job. Many people instead of giving wind up taking from the pastor — taking his time, his energy, his resources, his wisdom and his counsel. It is refreshing and encouraging to know that people in the church family really care about him, pray for him, and really want to get to know him, not so they can take, but so that they can give.

Why not call the church office to schedule some time with your pastor and offer to take him to lunch at his favorite restaurant? Ask him to tell you his story, how God saved him, called him into ministry and is currently leading him. I can guarantee you that he will appreciate this and be a better leader as a result of your initiative.

5. Ask how you can serve your pastor/your church.

Are you currently serving at your church? If you are serving, are you able to step it up a notch? Give more time or volunteer somewhere else where needed?

I have never been in a church that had all the servants and leaders it needed and wanted. One of the best ways to grow personally, and at the same time help your church grow, is to find a place where your gifts, capacity and interests can make a unique contribution to what Jesus wants to do through you and through your church. If you are not serving in some capacity, please do so, leaving the ranks of the consumers and joining the ranks of the contributors.

6. Talk honestly to, not about your pastor.

If there is something that you honestly have a problem with — some decision he made, something he wrote or said that you disagree with — please talk to himnotabout him.

This is one of the big sins in the body of Christ. We talk about people, but not to people.

Most pastors want to hear from people who have issues or questions with something at the church. Most would relish the opportunity to genuinely hear what is bothering you and to have the chance to both genuinely listen and share concerning your issue so the two of you can have mutual understanding and respect for each other.

Talking about others rather than talking to others is gossip pure and simple, and it never makes things better, only worse. The book of Proverbs is loaded with words of warning about gossip. Here are a few for starters: Proverbs 11:1317:918:8,20:19.

There are a lot of other things that could be said, but I will stop with these six. Let me say it again, “Your pastor needs YOU!”

Most pastors want to be relevant to the younger generation and know that they can positively influence them for the kingdom. He needs your support, prayers, honest feedback and involvement to do this well. As you do this, you will experience more joy and personal growth in your walk with Jesus, your pastor will be more motivated and become a better leader, and Jesus will be honored.

 

Copyright 2013 Dave Kraft. All rights reserved.