Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
Acts 20:22-24 says, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
From these verses we understand that the local preacher must learn to trust in the Lord to take care of them no matter what happens in their ministry. We read here of Paul and the affliction and imprisonment he faced in every city. Paul had his priorities in order, he did not wish to save his life, but to lose it for Christ (Matthew 10:39; Galatians 2:20). As a local preacher we may face trials in our ministries, but if there is a trust in the Lord to get you through, then there is always hope.
Notice that Paul says, “Not knowing what will happen to me there…” Another quality we must have as preachers is that we must fully rely on God. Even when we don’t know what will happen to us. Applying this practically, we should rely on God even when we don’t know where our next paycheck is coming from. We must rely on God when we travel overseas to foreign countries. Many in the world react harshly to Christianity and we may not know how they will receive us. Do we trust in God when the world hates us? How will the members of the congregation act when they see a man who puts that much trust in God? It will inspire them to do the same thing. Their trust in God will grow through our example.
There were times in Paul’s life when he had no idea what the outcome would be. Sometimes he did not even know whether or not he would die, but he kept on in the service of the Lord regardless of his circumstances. That is faith, and that is the kind of faith we need as ministers for the church in the 21st century. We serve a God that promises a great reward if we live a faithful life, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t trust in Him the way Paul did.
We also learn from verse 24 that the local preacher must put the Word of God first in life. By doing this, the most important piece of life is given the attention that it needs. Many ministries fail because of a lack of putting God’s Word first. We could never help a local church the way it should be helped without God’s Word. Also, ministers must not fret over the physical. Being so focused on what could happen, or what has happened could cause a train wreck for both the preacher and the congregation. Many ministers are focused on what people want to hear rather than what they need to hear. From reading the writings of Paul we can see that he preached and taught some very difficult topics. As preachers today we need to preach an unadulterated gospel. We should teach those hard topics. We should teach even when we may be the only one willing to stand by the scriptures.
A congregation must feel some growing pains in order to be strengthened. They need to hear the hard lessons and as preachers we need to be preaching to ourselves as well. When we study the Bible, we should be applying the lessons to our lives first. People will not listen to a preacher who is not living what he is preaching.