In part one I addressed Paul’s words in Ephesians 4 with some textual consideration: “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” Ephesians 4:11,12.
In Part 2, I would like to draw our attention to a number of obstacles that may present themselves to living out our Gospel purpose as God intended. Paul’s central argument in this section is an important one to follow and reflect upon. Truth be told, Pastors are not God’s gift to the church but are gifted FOR the church. Similarly, we need to ensure that we maintain a healthy view of our own role in the ministry of Christ’s church in order to not become the stumbling block to what God’s seeking to achieve. There’s a clear, yet subtle difference between being God’s gift to the Church and God’s gift for the church. Are you embracing a multiplication and empowering mindset or a ministry diminishing one? Paul is clear in this text that there are important obstacles to overcome in order that the church grows and be strengthened. What qualities do you display that diminish this potential in the church? What qualities can you catalyze to correct this?
OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME
- Obstacle One: An inflated view of self over others. Our selfworth is never diminished as we continue kingdom worth, but our sense of self-importance needs to be checked. Far too much damage has resulted from an inflated view of self and a sense of pride, or importance. Don’t discredit your good work with a corrupt motive or intent. How are you doing in this area? Would you say this applies to you, and how?
- Obstacle Two: Abuse of individuals who display a versatility of gifting to the detriment of the others who see themselves as bystanders. This applies perhaps more to those directly involved in leadership roles within the church. It’s all too easy to utilize gifted individuals, however, it should never be to the detriment of their family life and walk with the Lord. Church programs always come at the tail end of these important considerations. Being a gift for the church will require longevity and an ability to say ‘no’. Remember that ‘no not now’ may be because of the season you’re in. But, it does not mean no forever. What do you need to persevere in and push through, and what do you need to stop doing to foster a healthy relationship with God?
- Obstacle Three: Isolating yourself from those who are gifted differently to you in a vocational sense. There is an evident inter-connectedness that needs to be acknowledged at this level. This is a tough one as God’s gifting and individual personality and temperament become complex fields to navigate within church life. The truth is, none of us are islands, and no one gift or compliment of gifts represent the full kaleidoscope of God’s intent. We need to foster a raw and authentic sense of inter-dependance that nurtures others and encourages God’s work. Have you ever found yourself isolating your ministry and gifting as a result? In what ways can you practically affirm the roles of others and gain insight into what they bring to the table?
- Obstacle Four: Pastoral co-dependency, where fulltime ministers see their role as instrumental in the outworking of the ministry of the church that breeds a culture of congregational dependency on the paid professional. This is perhaps a bugbear of mine, however, it’s driven by a deep conviction biblically and theologically that it is the task of the WHOLE church to take the WHOLE Gospel to the WHOLE world (thanks, Lausanne Movement for the terminology here). An over-reliance on any one person or one group is unhealthy in any church and we need to become ministry catalysts that enable and equip Believers for works of service. In what ways do you need to step up to the plate?
Living out your purpose in life is deeply interwoven with your identity in Christ and your vocational gifting in His service. In what ways will you allow God to move you to fuller service and participation in 2017? What do you need to STOP and what do you need to START or JUMP START now to be more Biblically faithful and Spirit-led?