(This week’s blog postings are adapted from the theme address, “Preaching Under Pressure,” presented at the EK Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching in July.)
As you face the pressures of ministry, let me suggest that you . . .
Focus on the right priorities. You can’t handle everything that comes across your desk. There will be pressure on you to try to do it all, but you can’t. Jesus didn’t heal every lame man in Galilee, and you won’t solve every problem in your church. Focus on the places where God has gifted you, and find others who can step into the gap and use their gifts in other areas. If God has called you to preach the gospel, then don’t let good things push your primary calling to the side. Focus your priority on preaching the gospel. Second,
Change the scorecard. The pressures will overwhelm you when you measure yourself by the wrong standard. Your calling is not to be another John MacArthur or Tony Evans; God didn’t call you to be Ralph West or Chuck Swindoll. Some folks in your church will try to measure you against those servants of God, but don’t you fall into that trap. You thank God for how God uses other men and women, but you recognize that He called you and gifted you to be yourself, not someone else. Third,
Broaden your perspective. It’s easy to get disillusioned when I look at my own narrow slice of the church and think that’s all there is. Remember that Jesus didn’t pray, “Your church come.” He prayed, “Thy Kingdom come.” What happens to any single church at any particular time is not the real story; the big picture is how God is realizing His Kingdom.
The church in America may be encountering a time of struggle, but did you know that in Latin America there are 10,000 people a day coming to Christ? That’s more than three Pentecosts every day! In Africa, there may be as many as 25,000 people a day entering the Kingdom! Did you know that in a time when the communist government of China has persecuted the church, the number of Christians has grown from 1 million in 1950 to probably more than 80 million today, with thousands coming to Christ each day. Did you know that more Muslims have come to Christ in the past decade than in the past 1,000 years? Don’t get hung up because your church is experiencing a momentary struggle – recognize that you are part of a global movement as God realizes His Kingdom through the millions upon millions who are even now coming to faith in Christ.
Does that mean we ignore the pressures of ministry? Of course not, but it does mean that we recognize God can use those pressures to create diamonds. Like Paul, we say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”