Ministers; May 29, 2022

1 Corinthians 9:16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

There are all sorts of motives for becoming a Christian minister. To some, it seems like a glamorous occupation, being respected by all without a great deal of effort. That’s a terrible misunderstanding! I have encountered some “ministers” for whom the Gospel seemed to have very little to do with them! It only stands to reason that Christ’s representatives are chosen by Christ, but even with that understanding we need to remember that one of the original 12 apostles actively betrayed Him, and none of them were perfect. Even Paul, who wrote this, was very forthright about not being perfect. (Philippians 3:12-14) There is no room for pride, but only gratitude that God would use you in spite of yourself. There are indeed many ministers who have that attitude, but it is certainly not universal. However, when God has given us a job to do, we are indeed in trouble if we fail to do it, just like Paul says here. Perhaps the greatest demand on a minister is simple faithfulness, getting in there and doing the job regardless of circumstances. Such faithfulness will never go unrewarded.

Of course this applies directly to me. As the son and grandson of ministers, some would think I was just “continuing the family business,” but that’s hardly the case. I had to struggle with being willing to go to seminary, and I had to struggle twice over being willing to pastor a local congregation. Teaching comes naturally and easily to me, but dealing with messy interpersonal relationships can take a real toll! The first time I accepted a pastorate it was because God showed me I needed the experience if I was going to relate fully to Japanese pastors (whom I thought would be the focus of my ministry). The second was when I had sheep and there was no other shepherd available! That one really was hard, because the reasons for the situation were precisely those messy interpersonal relationships! In the 38 years since that second surrender I have indeed learned the meaning of, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) I can claim perfection no more than Paul could, but also like him, I know what I have to do and am committed to doing it.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the experience last night of filling in for a minister friend. Your presence and anointing were clear, and it felt very good, even though the schedule wasn’t exactly convenient. I do pray for all Your “under-shepherds,” that they would be encouraged and strengthened to do each task that You set for them, that the Body of Christ may be guilt up indeed and You be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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