Feeling Used and Unappreciated

servant
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When I think of someone who may have felt used and unappreciated, Gehazi comes to mind. He was the servant who worked alongside the high-profile, greatly respected prophet, Elisha.

After the Shunammite’s son suddenly died, Elisha dispatched Gehazi to the bedside of the mother’s son. We can be sure Gehazi’s heart was beating fast.

He must have anticipated an exciting response, as God would surely raise the lad from death. He would be involved in a miracle! But nothing happened. Not a thing changed.

Suddenly, Elisha burst on the scene, and phenomenal results occurred. A miracle transpired. The child was raised!

Some Common Misconceptions

Pastor
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Does it surprise you that being a pastor is perilous? I doubt it. You live with the reality of it each day. But to some who are not in the ministry, serving others sounds as safe and harmless as a poached egg on a plate.

What could possibly be perilous about it? Plenty.

As we examine Paul’s words in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians, I’d like to suggest several familiar misconceptions regarding serving God. Read the familiar words in verses four through seven carefully:

The Perils of a Servant

Man
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Nobody who was alive in the 1970s will ever forget Jonestown. At least, I hope not. That tragedy stands as a mute reminder of the awful results of a leader gone wild.

I shall never be able to erase from my mind the same horrible scene that appeared on one television newscast after another.

It was not just death but a mass suicide—over nine hundred bloated corpses in the steamy jungle of Guyana.

People lying there in rows, “looking like full-grown rag dolls,” was how one reporter described them. Except for a few defectors who managed to escape at the last minute, every soul in that cult compound gave up his or her life as the leader demanded.

To Serve and to Give

Pastor
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We pastors are God’s true servants when we are like the Lord Jesus, who came not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

To serve and to give . . . that’s the ticket.

Pride wants strokes—lots of them.

  • It loves to get the credit
  • To be mentioned
  • To receive glory
  • To have people ooh and ahh

Prayer and Preaching

Pastor
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You have to love Paul’s humility. Here was a man in his sixties who has been preaching for years asking for prayers for a clearer delivery. Read his words carefully:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2–4)

There was no pretense with Paul.

Three Ministry Essentials

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In every ministry, there are at least three essentials that produce an atmosphere of joyous cooperation. They are . . . objectives, people, and places.

First, whatever God plans, He pursues. That has to do with the ministry essential of objectives. There’s nothing wrong with having a clearly defined mission statement that gives direction and purpose to the vision of a ministry.

In fact, there’s everything right about it as long as it is the Lord who provides the direction. God’s plan unfolds in ways that confound human wisdom and sometimes defy common sense.

Powerful Preaching

Preacher
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As one responsible for communicating biblical truth, I want to share four principles. Pay close attention; read slowly, thoughtfully and carefully as I apply this to your ministry of proclaiming God’s Word.

First, always stay on the subject—Christ. For Paul it was always about Christ. Paul spoke of the “God who made the world and all things in it” to the followers of the “unknown god” of Athens, and everything for Paul pointed to Christ (Acts 17:10–34).

Preaching that which doesn’t exalt Christ is empty preaching. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

For Paul, to live was Christ and to die was gain. Clearly, his subject in preaching was Christ.

Second, always speak the truth. Do not hold back. Do not fear. Do not be overly impressed with those who have come to the class or who sit in the church where you serve. It makes no difference how much they’re worth or how little they contribute. Speak the truth.

Third, always start where your audience is. Paul hooked those men in Athens with his first sentence. You can, too, if you spend some time thinking about it. Know your audience well enough to build a bridge quickly.

Serving Good Sermons

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Dr. Bruce Waltke tells the story of his wife’s days in home economics in college. They did a test on two white mice, feeding them two completely different diets.

They fed the first mouse . . .

  • Whole milk
  • Wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Carrots
  • Fruit juices

They fed the second mouse . . .

  • Coffee
  • Doughnuts
  • White bread
  • Jelly
  • Candy
  • Potato chips
  • Coke for supper

Can you guess the results?

Be Who You Are

Do what you love
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I had the privilege of being mentored by a man who is now gone. I became one of the first interns on the staff with Ray Stedman at Peninsula Bible Church.

And I saw in Ray something I had not seen modeled in many pastors . . . an authentic life.

Ray was just who he was. I saw it work. I saw a man who was not defensive, who could laugh at himself, who had fun in life and yet was as good a thinker on his feet in question/answer sessions as I’d ever seen.

I saw a man who could love the homosexual and at the same time do an excellent biblical presentation on the sin of homosexuality. I saw a man who had a room in his life for a wayward child. I saw a man who hardly traveled alone, no matter where he went, and always had someone younger with him.

One of the secrets of building character in the lives of others is taking time for those younger than you. Those who are longing for the qualities and the character that have made you who you are. Ray did this for me.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

Doing Too Much . . . Smiling Too Little

Smiling Man
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The Christian worker is a strange breed. He or she often wants it to look as if the work is terribly hard. In fact, the more difficult and strained the look, the better.

Christian workers are notorious for what I call the “tired blood” look, better known as the outdated “missionary image.” Or, better stated, the exhausted, overburdened “religious image.”

They usually carry an old, worn-out Bible and walk with a slump, listing to port. They seldom smile—sort of a “please pity me” image. Makes me want to gag!