WHY ARE MOST EVERY MINISTER SCRUTINIZED,
EVEN IN PRE-SALVATION SINS,
THEN REMINDED OF FAILURES,
MADE TO BE CONSTANTLY ANSWER
FOR EVERY PAST FAULT?
The problem of failures, even the ones done pre-salvation, and more so, those done while in the ministry affects all who take the calling of ministry. We carry quite a calling as we minister, and no one, not even Jesus, has succeeded in all that was attempted. Jesus had Judas turn on Him, betray Him, and Judas ended up in perdition, in hell fire, despite the best efforts of Jesus. A night of weeping in Gethsemane, was due partially, at least, to the failure of Judas. The betrayal kiss, the deceptive attempt of Judas upon Jesus, was heavy on Jesus’ heart.
Jesus was sinless Himself, but no other minister can claim that. We all have sinned, some more than others, and none of us were called to ministry due to our perfection. Sins need repented, and repentance brought a redemption, and Jesus then called some, not due to perfection, but due to the life altering, sin atonement.
Ministers then want to share that redemption with congregations that also are all sinners. Ministers fail to win souls, persons reject their best efforts to bring them to Jesus. Hearts harden at sermons rather than melt, and conviction is ignored, not yielded to, by those a minister carries in heavy burden. Jesus often mentioned the ‘ears to hear’, because there are many ‘ears’ that refuse to hear, making a minister wonder what more could have been said, what more could have been done, to get hearts to open to the mercy available, the wisdom offered, the directions that could change a life.
Some failures are the fault of ministers, some are only partially our fault.
Adam told Eve that it would bring death and sin if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil. She was later deceived by the serpent, and the failure of Adam to adequately convince Eve to not do it, brought then Adam’s own failure.
Moses knew that he was to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt. He saw an Egyptian beating one of the Israelites, and in attempt to get the delivery process started, he killed the Egyptian. Poor timing, poor judgment, wrong methodology, brought a forty year wait in the desert for Moses, whose failure had then given much insecurity when the burning bush event renewed his calling. Failure in ministry can have long and hard consequences for the minister.
Samson’s failure in his ministry brought imprisonment, shame, blindness, and only one final victory for his ministry.
David’s failure in ministry with Bathsheba, brought a rebuke from a prophet, two years of guilt and shame, the death of a son, and a record in the Bible for all ages to read, of the failure.
Elijah’s pouting under a juniper tree, the fear in his heart of a woman seeking his death, was a failure he will always be ashamed to discuss.
Peter denied the Lord Jesus three times, as predicted, and despite his determination to not ever speak such kind of words, he failed. The grief of his failure was heavy on his heart.
Paul’s early life of persecuting Christians, of helping to stone Stephen, weighed heavy on his heart, made some other Christians unwilling to ever even listen or to read his later great sermons and teachings. The failure of his earlier life weakened his ministry, and hampered his later work.
Ministers today often have a heavy heart, a saddened mind, due to failure in their works. Many a minister has studied, prayed, wept, prepared, preached with love and compassion, and watched sinful souls harden themselves and reject the loving Jesus. The rejecters have walked away from a ministers best attempts, and gone back into the sin and shameful lives they had before. The failures of the ministers may not have been due to themselves, but that does not alleviate their sorrow and feelings of failure.
A sermon may be loving and complete of effort against the sin of gossip and verbal criticism, and the minister can stroll then into the vestibule of his church and shake hands with parishioners who share with him and others as they depart the gossip and critical statements toward others and the minister himself, as they depart his message. Did they not hear? Did his sermon not make it plain? Did the Spirit not convict their hearts? Did his sermon have willful rejection due to his failure or theirs? This has happened in some manner to all ministries, for I am certain Jesus often wondered where were the ears to hear His words! Failure to be heard, failure to be understood, failure to be accepted is faced by all in ministry.
PAUL DISCUSSED THESE FAILURES IN 1 Corinthians 4:1-8 (KJV):
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
We are ‘stewards’ of the wonderful ‘mysteries of God’. Ministers have various ministries, but a central fact is that all of us are sharing in some way the very ‘mysteries’ of the Lord. What a heavy burden to have those ‘mysteries’ in our hands, in our minds, in our mouths, and to be charged, commissioned, and sent to share them with those who desperately need them!
What God asks of us is to share them faithfully. Those mysteries, though shared as best we can, using our finite minds to share infinite truths, are still often rejected, through no fault of our own. Our intent can be to do the best of our ability, and even if we succeed in doing it to the best of our ability, and we could have done no better, the hearts of the hardened sinner may reject, at least for now, those words.
The ‘mysteries’ of God have power. God’s Word does ‘not return void’, and it will accomplish what God has sent it out to do, and that is to make people aware. That awareness is received by their spirit, even when their soul and mind is trying to block it out and reject it. That message is stamped upon their spirit, and if they continue to reject, someday at the Great White Throne judgment, their spirit will remind their person, that they knew and had heard the ‘mysteries’.
The ‘faithful’ ministers can weep and agonize over the ‘rejecters’ of the messages they preach and teach. The prophets can be stoned, beaten, killed and locked away, but the faithful preaching and prophesying is what they will be judged for, not for the fact that most, sometimes all, of the ‘hearers’ refused to acknowledge that they heard.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
Our Judge is God. He is the One Who speaks to the ministers’ hearts, Who inspires rhema words to be spoken, Who is present to convict the hearers, Who then judges the ministers, not on how the hearers responded, but on how faithfully the minister delivered the mysteries of the gospel.
Paul said ‘I judge not mine own self’. That is a crisis temptation for ministers, i.e. to judge themselves. We could be too easy in our judgments, and not be looking for any error we have in our delivery of the mysteries. We could neglect intercession, we could neglect study, assuming that all will reject anyhow, and we need not prepare spiritually for the delivery as we should.
Ministers can also judge too harshly, and become discouraged, thinking they are not able to do the work of God’s calling. They could look for a spiritual cave in which to hide, and cease their sharing of the mysteries of God. They could berate themselves, weep in shame for themselves, when actually they had faithfully delivered the mysteries, but had simply been rejected due to the hardness of the hearers hearts, not due to their own failure.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Ministers must not judge things until the Lord comes. Ministers often want a ‘judgment’ on whether it is their fault or the hearers fault. Yet, Paul counsels us not to hurry that ‘judgment’ for the devil would like to get ministers into frequent and constant judging, looking inward for faults, looking outward for confirmation of their work. Seeking mankind’s praise and adulation for the work is not our job. We are to be too busy with the work to be watching for standing ovations. We are not to plaster our picture on every page of our newsletters, seek congratulatory offerings and gifts, or send out press releases on our greatness, in order to soothe the pain of seeing what looks like ‘failures’ in our ministries. We await the reward at the judgment seat of Christ Jesus, which does not happen until rapture day. We are not to be sidetracked with efforts to be assured we are not failures. We are not here to lift up ourselves, we are here to deliver the mysteries of God, and to do it faithfully. Our Judge, Jesus Christ, will someday show us our rewards, and they await that time.
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
Jealousies between ministers of the gospel are far too common. Trying to be the best at delivering the mysteries of God is not why we are here. Why do ministers ‘puff up’ themselves in comparison to others? Why is so much time spent in competition over who is doing the best job of ministering? Why are we not doing our part, and appreciating the parts of others, without the attempts to prove our part is the greatest part? We see ministers bad-mouth other ministries more than they do the devil. We see competitive seeking for support to uplift one’s own ministry, rather than allowing the Lord to tell saints to which ministries they should be faithful. Ministers gather enough for their ministry, have enough extra to buy jet planes, multiple mansions, and a dozen luxury vehicles, and not care that other vital ministries are impoverished due to their greed. The thought that their ministry is the only vital one is not right.
One is not a failure if no one supports them, one is not a success if the bank account is overflowing. Jesus will judge the efforts and the work of ministers on a standard that is not based on how many standing ovations one had accumulated, or on how much money has been sacrificially given to them.
8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.
We all have a high calling. Every minister of the Lord will rule and reign as kings with our King of kings. We will all reign together in the millennium and on the new earth. This is a joint task, assigned to us, to be done with cooperation with the Spirit, Who is the Director of all of us. We are not to seek to be the ‘boss’ of anyone else, we are all ‘servants’ to the One, to our Head, to our Lord, i.e. Jesus Christ. None of us are higher than any other of us.
We see ministers attacked, and if the attacks are for sins that were repented, and if their lives are truly redeemed by the blood of Jesus, then no one has a right to judge them, for God no longer does. If the sins of ministers are current, unrepented, not atoned by the blood of Jesus, then they need intercessors. Sometimes, the sermons need to correct the understanding of sin, preach the truth so the Holy Spirit can then convict the hearts. The Lord will deal with errant and currently sinful lives, but the ones already forgiven by God, need to be forgiven by the saints.