Learning is good.
I do a lot of my learning in areas related to what I do for a living, namely pastoral ministry, theology, preaching, etc. I spent last Thursday with a group of pastors, all of us driving a solid distance from our homes to meet at a church and learn from a couple of other pastors who are known for their excellent ministry. I think engaging in environments like this is important for development and growth personally.
Like I said, learning is good.
Many times when I come away from a book, class, or pastor’s gathering where I learned something; I get reflective, I take stock, and I begin to evaluate how I can change, grow, and get better at what I do. I don’t think we’re made to stand still or get stagnant. I would think that every one of us would want to grow and develop in our abilities regarding our life’s work. Admittedly, at times it can get overwhelming. We are inundated with information, we are pounded with theories, and we are swamped with best practices.
I think one of the greatest lessons we can learn as Christians, is that the work we do in ministry is a work that God himself is perpetuating through us. Meaning, God distributes gifts to us to work through us. The first among these gifts is salvation, of course. God saves us to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10).
I was thinking about my work this morning, and the work we do at LifePoint to preach the gospel. The gravity of our mission demands diligence. It demands humility. It demands a drive and focus on consistent personal development and growth.
But most of all it demands dependence. It demands surrender. It demands prayer. It demands these things, because first and last, the preaching of the gospel and the making of disciples is a Jesus thing. It’s a God thing. It’s something that the Holy Spirit himself does. We are “successful” in it to the degree that we get out of the way and surrender to his work through us.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)
If you’re looking for the work of the Holy Spirit in a life or in a church, look for people coming to Jesus.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, (1 John 4:2)
A friend of mine sent me a text yesterday and he said that his uncle (who visited LifePoint for the first time a week or so ago) wants to get baptized. Are you looking for the Holy Spirit? You just found him.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:14-16)
There is no substitute for learning and growing in our understanding and ability to do gospel-centered ministry. But perhaps the greatest “skill” we can learn (if we can call it that) is a dependence on and surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit. He is working all throughout the world to save, call, and lead followers of Jesus. Our job is simply to get in line and stay in step.