Archive for March, 2015
Church members and the American public have various perceptions about ministers. Some believe that ministers are not hard workers. Those of us who serve in local churches hear people say: “You guys only work one day a week!”
Ministers have challenging jobs. In many ways, ministers are never truly away from the office. Technology has only raised the intensity of their never-ending job. Weddings, funerals, emergencies, and responsibilities on Sundays prevent ministers from having weekends. Yet, with these realities and many more that I did not list, ministers should never be excused from working hard.
Three reasons why I believe ministers should be hard workers:
1. The Bible Charges Ministers to Work Hard
When Paul was instructing Timothy on the life of being a minister, he talks about the minister being like a soldier, an athlete, and a hardworking farmer. (2 Timothy 2) Unquestionably, we must be equipped like soldiers for the battles of ministry and persevere like athletes as we lead people, but we must also be like a hardworking farmer who works until he sees the harvest.
Humbly, ministers should be known to be hard workers. We cannot claim to be spiritual men if we do not work hard. Laziness should never exist in the life of the minister. Laziness should not be permitted or excused by anyone.
2. The Gospel Calls Ministers to Exhaust Themselves
I will never forget a conversation I shared with Jim Cymbala, pastor of the great Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in New York. He asked me to preach for him on a Sunday. It was a marvelous experience. I cannot recall how many services I preached, but it was several. I witnessed Pastor Cymbala lead worship during those services, pouring himself out in prayer and ministry, and leading his people diligently. At the close of the day I asked him, “Pastor, how do you do this each week, plus most of the time you are preaching as well?” He responded to me, “Ronnie, the Gospel calls me to exhaust myself daily for my people.”
Pastor Cymbala was 100% correct! The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls every minister to exhaust himself for others. Even when we are weak physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, the Gospel calls us to exhaust ourselves. People are lost and hopeless without Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. We must give ourselves away until complete exhaustion to advance this Gospel message and strive to reach person in the world.
3. The Testimony Challenges Ministers to Excel Before Others
A minister’s testimony becomes stronger before others when he works hard. Conversely, nothing lowers the testimony of a minister than when he is lazy. A lazy minister hurts himself not only in the eyes of his people, but he also hurts the testimony of his peers.
As ministers, we represent Jesus Christ. We are called to be a living testimony of Christ and His Gospel. Our work ethic either lends credibility to the Gospel and the church or it discredits it before the world.
While each minister can have hobbies and sports they enjoy, we should never become more dominated with them than we are with the consuming passion of our calling to advance the Gospel to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Being ready and willing to forgive are immutable marks of following Jesus. We do not have the option of holding grudges, fostering bitterness, or acting as if we are God. We must stick with forgiveness.
Matthew records a forgiveness-themed discussion between Jesus and Peter. “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘For, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ ‘I tell you, not as many as seven,’ Jesus said to him, ‘but 70 times seven.’”1 Later in the same passage Jesus likened forgiveness to showing mercy.
No Quota on Grace
Ben Mandrell in Bible Studies for Life gets to the heart of the conversation, “Peter was basically asking if there’s a quota on grace. How many times are we called to let the same person slide off the hook?”2
Isn’t this too often the way we think? How few times can we comply with God’s commands before we get out from under them? Without saying it, at times we are looking for the minimum requirements for godliness. This is especially true when we are called upon to forgive others.
The rabbis of Jesus’s day required followers to forgive three times. Peter, who must have thought he was going well beyond what was expected by suggesting seven times, found out was mercy was really about. Jesus’ teaching that forgiveness was to be extended 490 times (70 x 7) was not about an extension of the law. It was about going far beyond into a new law of grace, love, and mercy.
Grace upon Grace
When we think of “minimalist Christianity” we do not reflect the One who extends to us grace upon grace. Our goal as believers is to be filled with the Spirit, extending grace, love, and mercy to everyone in our sphere of influence.
When the disciples asked Jesus for lessons in praying, He included, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have also forgiven our debtors.”3 Extending forgiveness to others is woven into the very fabric of the Christian life. The holding of grudges and harboring of bitterness are things Jesus has saved us from, not for.
There is No Pit so Deep that He is not Deeper Still
Corrie ten Boom survived the horrors of the same Third Reich that consumed members of her family. Corrie survived Ravensbruck concentration camp, where her sister Betsie died. Betsie’s last words to Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still” provided guidance for Corrie as she had to forgive those who had persecuted her and her family.4
Can we stick with forgiveness? Can we extend to others that which God has extended to us? Forgiveness can be a key to opening a door to the gospel. It is a door we cannot allow to be pinned shut by a lack of mercy. This is why we must stick with forgiveness.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. FloydSenior Pastor, Cross Church General Editor, Bible Studies for Life President, Southern Baptist Convention
1– Matthew 18:21, 22 (HCSB)
2– Bible Studies for Life, Like Glue, Ben Mandrell
3– Matthew 6:12