Ministry Problems & Temptations

"Here's three things that I have noticed in reading other ministers. if this ever gets hold of a minister, it's got him. And here's a weak spot: money, women, popularity. That's right. Dodge the very apprearance of it. That's right."

William  Branham

(500826A My Life Story, Cleveland, Ohio)

 

God in Control

Just as ministers receive a call so did Abraham. He was called to be the father of many nations with the promise that through him all nations would be blessed. It’s rather like a minister called to bring the message of new life and through that calling many people would be blessed.

 

But God does not like competition. Abraham loved his promised son Isaac. God wanted to see if Abraham loved Him more than his son. It was through his son Isaac that the nations of the world were to be blessed. Isaac represented Abrahams calling and his gift. 

 

But God wanted to see if Abraham loved his gift and calling far more than God himself. So God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. It was only when Abraham proved his love of God that God stopped him from the sacrifice.

 

We have all seen ministers who are in love with their own gift and calling. And I wonder today how many ministers are willing to sacrifice their gift, their calling if God requested it. 

 

The true ministry will always put God first.

 

 

The People

1 Samuel 8 tells the story of Israel demanding a king instead of being led by God’s Word coming through a prophet. 

 

In short, this is what happened.

 

People did not want to think and act for themselves, they wanted someone to tell them what to do. They did not want to listen to God for themselves, they did not want to read the Bible and live by its teachings themselves, they did not want to act out the life of Christ on their own, they wanted someone else to take the responsibility and management of their lives.

 

They wanted a leader, they wanted a manager, they did not want to be responsible for their own decisions. It is much the same today. Marketing works so well because people want to believe the label, the hype. They do not want to find out the truth for themselves, they just want a set of marketing and advertising rules that will make them feel safe.

 

This is nothing short of Exodus 19 when the people of Israel chose law and a fixed structure instead of grace and God’s spiritual leadership. This is best described in -

 

Hebrews 12:18-19  

18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

 

The people do not want God to speak to them themselves, they want someone to act as a go-between. Anyone put in the position of the leader of such people is likely to get very proud and can easily become a big dictator. 

 

Jeremiah 5:31, The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

 

Samuel warned the people that a king would organise everything. He would decide who would sing who would play musical instruments, what sort of music would be played, who would be the leaders, deacons, and key management roles within his Kingdom. He would rule, not guide.

 

It would cost them their sons and daughters, their income, their time, their energy. And the people preferred that rather than becoming mature individuals with a personal spiritual walk with their God.

 

Priestly Position

I have heard a lot of rubbish about priesthood being the current five fold ministry. Priests offer and present the sacrifice. Our sacrifice has already been made. There is no further sacrifice that can improve or replace the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. That sacrifice was for all the sins of the world. What other sacrifice can be made on our behalf? No sacrifice, no need for priests.

 

Priests, in the proper meaning of the word as intercessors, vicars or replacements of Christ, are not needed. Jesus is the High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. Jesus too gave us bread and wine. He offered Himself in the heavenly Holy of Holies. What more can we do?

 

Apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers are, however, needed, especially good ones. 

They are part of the body of Christ. He works through them, they do not work on His behalf. He operates them, as He does all the parts of His body, through Holy Spirit leadership and revelation. It is Him operating through His people. Priests traditionally fulfil the gap between God and man but today Jesus is the only mediator, the only intercessor. Sure He might use people in that role to pray for others to speak on behalf as He desires. But it isn’t their job to offer daily or weekly a sacrifice on behalf of the people to make those people right with God. That was the priest job. 

 

Jesus made us right with God for once and for all. The ministry is there to encourage. guide, teach, correct and so on to keep people in the state of oneness with God that has already been achieved through the cross. Sometimes things need to be spoken and God may chose a person as an intercessor to speak those words but there is a really huge difference between priests and the Christian ministry. 

 

The five fold ministry is there to serve the Bride, that’s all. The five fold ministry is there to serve the Bride of Christ, and that’s all that the ministry should do. Ruth is like the Bride the reapers are like ministers, reapers in Boaz’s fields. And Boaz is the Lord of the harvest.

 

Ruth 2:9 (Boaz is talking to Ruth)

9 let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of thatwhich the young men have drawn.

 

Ruth represents the Bride. She is to glean only in Boaz’s fields. God charges the pastors and evangelists and so on Not to Touch Her!

 

Woe unto the pastor or minister who uses the Bride for his own enjoyment !

 

As with Ruth the reapers or ministers are to provide the food and drink. And she is to eat and drink only what they get ready. But again, they are not to control her but rather go out of their way to ensure she gets the best and most food.

 

Luke 22:27

27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

 

I liken ministers to cooks and waiters at a feast. People come to the feast for a good meal. The cooks are to prepare the food, the waiters are there to present and serve the meal.

Who is the most important people at that feast?

 

The guests, of course. Jesus Himself said so.

 

The five fold ministry is there to prepare and serve the spiritual food but they are not there to rule like kings. The cooks and waiters aren’t there to teach the guests table manners or to boast of their cooking skills. And they are certainly not there to be the centre of the feast. That is the place of the the One who invited the guests. If they provide good food and drink the Bride will be healthy.

 

Sauls

King Saul started well but like many ministers fell into the trap of thinking that he really was the king. There was a young man in his congregation. He spoke as well, if not better that the Pastor. He dealt with battles efficiently and effectively. The congregations still praised the king, he has slain his thousands, but they praised the young upstart more.

 

And all this young upstart wanted to do was serve. But one Sunday, after this young man had sung his song about the Lord being his shepherd King Saul took the pulpit and hurled spears of scriptures and quotes chosen to pierce and kill the soul of the young man.

 

Now all Sauls know how to respond to someone who throws spears at them. The first thing is to duck. The second is to wrench the spear from the back of the pew and, using one’s own strength and knowledge of both scripture and message, hurl that spear straight back at the king.

 

Davids, however only do the first. They duck. Then they slip away. Davids do not hurl spears from the pulpit or at the pulpit. 

 

Are you, am I, a Saul? Are we careful of our position, our calling? Do we protect it?

 

God is able to protect His anointed. All we should do is exit quietly and, most important of all, leave alone. Take no one with us. We do not divide a kingdom, we do not divide a church even if it is a King Saul on the throne.

 

But what of our calling. Weren’t we anointed to be a minister?

 

Certainly. But God provides the congregation, not us. We just have to follow the Lord’s leading, not our hurt pride, our need for fairness, our need for others. Christ calls us to follow Him, not our own spiritual leadings. All too often they are spiritual leadings, but human spirit, not Holy Ghost ones.

 

Absaloms

Absalom waited 20 years before attempting the coup. He had queried the Pastor from time to time pointing out how he would have done things differently, better, and in a more spiritually fair way. He had made friends with the congregation one by one as problems came and went. Absaloms are always the first to comfort and empathise with those in trouble. “If I were a pastor I would do this or that but, well our Pastor is our Pastor.” The seeds of an insurrection are sown. They will grow. And they will flower. They will produce fruit. And when it was harvest time Absalom came to take over.

 

David loved his son. He was not nearly as sure as Absalom who should be King, or Pastor, so he retreated. He left the throne. He stepped back to see what God wanted. And an old man spat on him.

 

Absalom had fifty men run before him. In other words he had all the pentecostal gifts on display. Absalom looked right. He had the signs. But he didn’t have the right motive and objective. He didn’t have the right sort of life.

 

Eventually David was forced to fight and it cost him his son’s life. In war, in disputes, lesser men that David tend to want to see everything put to the sword. The Word can cut, kill, maim. Once in the hands of someone who just wants things dealt with and made right, it can kill. The Sword of the Word should be used in love to separate soul and spirit for our own and everyone else’s good. Here it was used by Joab in justice and judgement. It was the old issue of law or grace. And the one with the sword, seeing a helpless victim caught up in his own vanity, used it to kill, not to heal.

 

In these three kings can be seen various ministries. To a greater or lesser extent these are what God has to deal with among His ministers. Most of these ministers are the Lord’s anointed. What ever and whoever we come across we are not to harm the Lord’s anointed. David killed the man who, at the request of a dying King Saul, finished him off. 

 

Ministers are just to duck, move back, and wait on the Lord. Our own ambitions are not pure enough for us to get involved in judging others, especially other ministers. We must just follow where the Spirit leads us.

 

There are other kings, people like Baalam and Ishmaelites who would sell their gifts and even the Lord Himself for money.

 

There are the Ahabs who married unwisely and are governed by their wives who thereby control the kingdom through their husbands.

 

The Rehoboams who take young counsellors and love power, Hezekiah s who received a gift from the Lord and then used it unwisely.

 

Of such are some of the temptations, and foibles of Ministers.

 

But each of us has gifts and callings. Romans and 1 Corinthians 12 (funny that they should be the same chapter number as the 12 Apostles, 12 Tribes) 

 

This is the full family of God. It is easy to look at the five fold ministry and see their faults forgetting that the self same problems of pride, lust of power and control, and so on can apply to each one of us.

 

There is only one God, He is Lord of all. If we are part of His kingdom then His Word is Law, (and here I include that Holy Spirit word of, “Go talk to that person, pray for so and so, cut Mrs X’s lawn, just call in and chat with Mr Y. This too is the Word of God 

 

Romans 8: 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

 

And if we are part of His Family then we should serve through love 

 

 

Richard Oliver

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