|Photo Credit: http://davidbrennen.com/jeremiah-177-8/|
Pastors, missionaries, and ministers, (and those who might be involved in ministry someday,) I'm going to let you in on a secret. May God open your spiritual eyes to receive what I tell you here.
Don't manipulate in order to bring fulfillment to your petitions to God; this limits God.
Expect future blessings.
Let me explain. But first, this assumes that you have been sanctified wholly. That's foundational. You must fear God greatly. Live circumspectly. And walk humbly in Christian perfection. Perfect love, cleansing from all inbred sin, and a baptism of the Holy Spirit make up this Christian perfection.
Learn to spend much time with God. Ask Him for big things for His glory. Be an Enoch and walk with God. Be a Noah, perfect in his generations, and listen to God so that He can tell you His secrets for your generation. Be a Daniel and purpose to not only not defile yourself with even the smallest negligence, but also to never miss your appointment with prayer to God. Those who fast and pray raise up the foundations of many generations. Think of Nehemiah. Pray much, stand on the promises, and the passing of years will reveal that you will have become a modern day Nehemiah. God right now searches this earth for people through whom to show Himself mighty.
Prayer, much prayer, will bring unheard of blessings, fruit, and power to your ministry. And with time faith will result – faith that isn't affected by circumstances which seem otherwise. Earnestly beg God to show you what He wants you to pray for. Then realize that he wants to do a thousand times greater. Over the next years do God's will in the great and small while asking God for what He has showed you. Expect God to enlarge your vision and petitions as you continue to pray and work for this. With time you might just simply ask God to work out His will through you, for your faith may grow so great that you will know that you can't even dream up all God wants to do as you humbly stay on your face before Him. Pray enough and God will send others to help you pray and bring this to pass.
Don't just hope to maintain. Faith calls for so much more. God wants to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. What are the hard cases? Ask God for these souls. Ask God for pastors and missionaries and churches to result from your labors. Ask God to give you your city, your state, your country, or your world. If your eschatology limits your prayer, reexamine your position. You should be praying, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.”
Meanwhile, work with who God tells you to work. Put faithful men and women to work. Plan for succession. Mentor the younger generation. Start giving work to those who seek God.
Start making plans for missionaries to go out from you someday. Don't send them away to a para-church organization, that's for those who don't have a local church. You and your church raised them up; YOU send them. Ask God you help you and your church serve them as they go out into the whitened harvest field. The missionaries whom God raises up under you need to be accountable to their local church. Become a sending church.
Ask God to show you how you are going to put future preachers and pastors to work. Plan to mentor, prepare, teach, and train them. You, your local church should teach them. You don't have to send them off to an “expert” in who-knows-where who questions some of the very foundations in which you believe, whose teachings may undermine what your church stands for. The local church is to equip her own ministers. Para-church higher education is for those whom God has called to such, it's an exception. But the rule is that the local church is serve her own ministers and vice versa.
Plan to raise up laborers in the way your church believes. Not only do our church's pastors mentor those coming up with a call, but also her ministers have a reading course. This includes the themes of prayer, revival, holiness, doctrine, church history, reliable resources, and more. This writer has his own children reading key books to prepare them and to teach them what they should know. Youth can be challenged in the above themes as well as biographies of spiritual giants, holy manhood and womanhood, parenting, marriage and home, chastity, and holy living. But remember much more is caught than taught. What you do shouts so loudly that people can't hear what you say. But if your walk matches your passionate talk, you are a powerful teacher.
Regarding training the next generation. Laying a proper foundation will eventually result in spiritual youth. Loving, devouring, living in, walking according to the Bible is a firm foundation. Both the mentor mentored must delight in God's law. And invest much in prayer. Walk in holiness before God. Minister Christ, truth, and love to all ages. Raise up children in Christ. Take time for the youth. The Holy Spirit is working on them too. Know that they will be youth (and need to grow in maturity) but also expect them to be spiritual. Spend extra time with those to whom God directs you and to those you feel has a call. Talk to them line upon line, precept upon precept. Pray with them, love them, help equip them, and start using them. Have patience and lovingly help them with their errors. Enable them become faithful in little so that God can make them faithful in much. Role model the ministry for younger spiritual ones, give them a chance to practice ministry and then with much prayer gently offer counsel for their shortcomings in ministry. Teach them all you know and then as the Holy Spirit teaches them, they can far surpass you.
Some say, “But where am I going to get the resources for such big plans” Here lies the danger. You must guard against supposed shortcuts. Much prayer, patience, work, and time is needed here. Grass grows up overnight and dies in summer heat, but for an oak tree to mature it needs years as well sun, winds, and rains that God decides to send it. Do you want God to raise up a mighty and fruitful work? Then work with God's time and with what resources He sends you through prayer. Some look to speed up things up by recruitment campaigns, trophy figureheads, soliciting, debt, impression management, fake-it-til-you-make-it attitudes, glitz and bling and power-tie bigness, plastic smile optimism, by pleasing the carnal, endorsement seeking, partnerships with the world, secular alliances, and church growth fads.
God can use any of this to build His kingdom and He has. But God has a better way. Abraham had enough faith to let Lot choose the best, for he had received God's promise and knew that no matter what others did, God would give him the promise in God's time. And he by patient pursuance in God's will inherited God's promises. You also can pray until you know that God will work though your obedient life, without you having to resort to pulling strings.
About pleasing the carnal, it's like trying to build a church on sand. Many pastors yield to the temptation to use people with sins in their life in order to encourage them to keep coming to church. So people who are worldly in their dress, music styles, or ministry philosophy are used to lead in the service or music, to teach children, and even to participate in decision making. At times they are given office in the church, rather the ministry of the church appointing the spiritual ones as is best. Attitudes, faithfulness, and direction are important indicators of usefulness. Are they Christlike, unchanging, and moving in the direction of God's will according to the Bible? These people are useful, even though they still might have blind spots in their life.
Many churches are grasping for straws to keep unspiritual young people from leaving. So they cater to the worldly tastes of the youths in hopes to keep them around. The atmosphere becomes reminiscent of a pop concert rather than humble worship, Godly fear, holy delight, and willful submission to God.
The church can't compete with the world. This grieves the Spirit of God pushes away the spiritual people – both indispensably a part of the church. Trendiness becomes a desirable characteristic in the leadership. This minister often tries to make his messages palatable for the worldly in the congregation. Messages become laced with jokes and shallow stories and on "feel good, you're amazing" themes.
This is like raising children on candy and hoping for health and growth. The pure milk and solid meat of the Word will work miracles. In time the hungry will flock from afar to be fed the riches of the preached full Gospel. Sinners will be converted and believers sanctified and edified, because lifting up Christ will build His church.
About recruitment campaigns, trophy figureheads, soliciting, impression management, and glitz and bling and power-tie bigness, the Apostle Paul didn't want to build on the foundations of others and he disregarded the wisdom of this world. Through constant prayer, suffering, work, and preaching he became known as the Apostle to the Gentile church.
Constant prayer -- there it is again -- rather than manipulation and gimmicks. Barren Hannah carried her burden to God in prayer, and it was God brought a national revival through her son of which King David was just one of its many fruits. George Muller chose not to tell anyone of His needs, nor go into debt, but wait on God in prayer to build His work. And Muller housed and fed thousands of children for decades as well as established scores of schools which taught Christ to tens of thousands of children many of whom were orphans.
Look what God did through these common people. Once you decide to submit to God like this, you will find blessings and growth much beyond human ability. You will see supernatural results. And what you build up is not going to pass away when you do. Rather growth and blessings will continue mounting up.
John Wesley said, "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth." Today we still have not yet seen all the fruit of that revival; it lives on and continues to grow. A revivalist once told young D. L. Moody, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” And God spoke that directly to Moody's heart. Today even though Moody has passed on from this world, he continues to speak and bear fruit.
Today also, God is looking for anyone with a perfect heart who depends wholly on God to stand in the gap. Like Enoch, Noah, Daniel, Nehemiah, the Apostle Paul, Hannah, Muller, Wesley, and Moody, a mighty work will be raised up by God under their feet. And the fruit of which will continue to grow and live on throughout eternity.