Freedom and Frustration in Ministry
- Sheldon Clowdus
I had the opportunity last night to teach my church's main Wednesday night session. Being by trade a children's pastor, I don't have the opportunity to teach or preach to adults nearly as often as I would like to. I really enjoyed the opportunity I had last night and I pray that God would use the foolishness of my preaching to accomplish much for His glory.
One thing that always hits me just before I begin preaching is how desperately I want my audience to know God deeply. It is an extremely humbling, at times frustrating desire. I know that the gospel that God has entrusted me to preach is life giving and life changing. I also know that it's impact on the audience has nothing to do with my talents or skills as an orator. Now, if I am a skilled speaker then I can use that skill to manipulate emotions and create an impact of some sort. But when speaking of eternal, life changing impact of the gospel, no amount of skill, eloquence, or forcefulness of speech will guarantee anything. That is the frustrating aspect of it for me. I have no control over the impact of the message God asks me to communicate. He is the one who moves hearts or hardens them as He wills.
Of course, the lack of control is also where the freedom is found. I don't have to concern myself with convincing someone that the gospel is true. I just focus my efforts on rightly dividing the word of truth and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict and move. I know that God is the one who saves, God is the one who convicts sinners, God is the one who changes hearts.
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. -- Romans 9:16We often hear this verse quoted in relation to the sinner and his salvation but it also applies to the preacher and his offer of salvation. Salvation does not depend on how well I present the offer of grace nor on how much I desire that offer to be received. It depends on the sovereign will of God.
- Live a gospel centered life so that we experience God's abundant life and our message is not compromised by our actions
- Rightly divide the word of truth
- Go before the throne of our God and plead with Him over the souls of the people we come into contact with
Those are the keys to a successful ministry and life. They are also the reason ministry and life are frustrating and freeing at the same time, at least for me.