Questions Part 1: Faith and Unbelief In Ministry

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A little while ago, I ran across a link to a list of 21 questions that a pastor had started asking himself.  I don't know where the questions originated from but you can read them at Timmy Brister's blog.  I have the list hanging on my office wall and I have highlighted 6 of the questions that really convicted me.  I would like to examine those 6 questions here at the blog over the next week or two. The first question I want to look at is the one that I am most convicted by.




In what ways have we acted or planned in unbelief instead of faith?



The more I examine my ministry and my own personal light in view of this question, the less I like the answers I find.  I think this can be a tough question to answer unless we are really clear on what faith and unbelief are.  I don't think faith means we just try to accomplish everything by the seat of our pants with no planning or foresight whatsoever.  I do think, however, that in the name of planning we often find ourselves wandering away from faith into unbelief.

I see this working itself out in my life, ministry, and the ministries around me most often in the same way.  It usually goes something like this:

Feeling that God may be calling us in a certain direction or to create a certain ministry we spend a great deal of time seeking His direction through prayer, studying the word, and seeking wise council.  Having then heard from God what we believe it is He wants us to set our hands to, we begin to make plans to accomplish this task.  Plans lead us to budgets for time, space, and finances. None of these are intrinsically bad, by the way.  Time, physical space, and money are all needed to make most things happen.  Where I most often see faith slip into unbelief is when the budgeted time, space, or finances don't seem to be available in the amounts budgeted.  What happens is then we go back to the original task (which we said we believed God gave to us) and we alter it to fit into the seemingly available time, space, or finances.  What we say we are doing is accomplishing as much of our God given task as our resources will allow.  We prefer to view it as being responsible with our resources or being adaptable.  What we are really doing is saying we don't have faith that God will provide the resources to accomplish the task He set before us.  In our unbelief it is better to change the task given us either in scope or scale than to trust that if God set it before us He will provide the resources to accomplish it.  We allow our view of reality to interfere with God's view.  We make plans that we can enact if God doesn't come through for us.  In essence we begin to walk by sight rather than by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).  

The more I look at my own life and ministry the more I find that I am guilty of this.  I wonder what would happen if instead of making decisions based on available resources or what seems doable if I would look at the tasks God has entrusted to me and trust that He will provide for them. What is my unbelief causing me to miss out on spiritually?  What if I really planned and acted in faith in every area of my life?  What if all of our church leaders planned and acted in faith instead of unbelief?

What would that mean for my life?

What would that mean for my family?

What would that look like for my ministry?

What would that look like for our churches?