Last week we began looking at an often overlooked and certainly under appreciated aspect of the man God uses – his personal holiness and walk with the Lord. As those who are called by God, we are increasingly living and ministering in a culture that values results over righteousness, profit over personal purity and achievements over the anointing of God’s Spirit. It seems that more and more ministers today are driven by what’s hot at the latest church growth conference than by looking to their personal spiritual growth and righteousness before God. This hyper-pragmatism serves to lessen the impact and influence of the Man of God in the world today, and no doubt hinders the cause of Christ.
As one who has been called by God, and desires to be used by God, you must seek your example in the life of Christ, not the latest conference personality or fast-growing church pastor. As I have mentioned before, if you will look to Jesus and the principles found in the pages of the Bible you will find growth, success, satisfaction and impact – both in your life and the life of the church you lead. Remember, don’t copy a copy. Pattern your life after the real thing.
In Paul’s pastoral letter to young Timothy (1 Timothy chapter 4), he gives some wise, godly advice that every minister should seek to follow. He tells Timothy to pay particular attention to the six spheres of a minister’s life – word, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity. These six spheres are further fleshed out in his letter to Titus where he gives the qualifications for bishops. Paul says, “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:7-9).
Let’s begin looking at each of these personal spheres to see how they work out in the life of the man God uses.
As ministers, we must understand the power and proper use of our tongues. Whether it be in personal exhortation or public proclamation; in preaching or teaching or our daily conversations, we must be mindful and careful of how we use our tongue. The tongue is powerful and can be used for great benefit or to considerable damage. We must never forget that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
My mother used to tell me when I was a boy that my mouth got me more trouble than any other part of my body. She was right, about me and the rest of us too. So often those who God calls and uses have a particular gift in the area of speech. It is this gifting that can become a significant liability when not controlled by the Spirit.
As ministers, we should strive to be kind and gracious, never contentious or quarrelsome. We must be thoughtful and circumspect in the words we utter or even Twitter. We must never be coarse or careless with our words. We should certainly never be guilty of profane language. We must never be guilty of telling a dirty or off-color joke. We should be careful never to mock holy things or speak in such a way that would harm another. Words matter and even more so to those of us who are called to speak God’s Words.
Is this difficult to do? Absolutely. Will we blow it from time to time? Most likely. But, as those with the call of God on our lives, we must remember that to whom much is given, much will be required. We should seek to use our words in such a way that ministers hope and healing to people and bring glory to God.
Our lifestyle is inseparable from our lips, and thus our walk must match up with our talk. We all sadly know those who preach one thing and live another. This should not be. The man God uses must, first of all, be a holy man, separate from this world. We do not help our people by seeking to be more like the world, but rather by leading them to be more like Jesus.
I remember Dr. Adrian Rogers telling us young preachers, “Men, you can never just be one of the boys.” Thus, we must fight the urge to be common and coarse because our life must bear the marks of our Heavenly citizenship.
Don’t ever forget that people are watching you. They are looking to see if you’re real. Do you truly practice what you preach? You are a minister of God, and if you’re to be effective in your ministry, then you must reflect the holiness of our holy God.
This personal characteristic of God is the primary quality in the man God uses. Its importance is evident from its place in the Spirit’s fruit as well as the priority placed on it by the apostle Paul – “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
The minister must not be a lover of fame or finances, but rather one who loves God and people. This love will evidence itself through how he interacts with those around him. Is he gentle, hospitable, winsome? Does he love those both within and without the church? Does he treat all equally or is he “a respecter of persons?”
One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received as a pastor came from a former secretary. I was standing in her doorway one day when she said, “I’ve worked for a lot of pastors, and you’re the first one I’ve met that doesn’t have favorites. Most pastors have favorites, and most of their favorites are people with money.”
Love that is evident in the life of a pastor is a powerful thing. A minister can never exhibit too much genuine love with those he’s been called to lead because true love will always say what’s best and seek what’s right. If people know that you truly love them they will willingly follow you because they know you have their interest at heart even when they may not agree or understand. True love enables the minister to speak hard truth into the lives of people, step into their lives and give godly counsel and lead with courage and conviction.
Next week we will pay particular attention to the minister’s spiritual life and his personal purity.