4 MORE TRUTHS TO ENCOURAGE PREACHERS AND BIBLE STUDY LEADERS

When fatigue, criticism, spiritual warfare, feelings of inadequacy, or some form of failure threaten to sabotage our ministry of handling God’s Word, what Bible verses and truths can sustain us for the long haul?

In my previous post, I cited six truths with corresponding Bible texts that buoy my flagging spirits. Here I explain four more soul-strengthening perspectives for communicators.

1.    Our identity and significance are based on what Christ has done for us, not on what we do for Him. Luke 10:1-20 (focus on v. 20)

When a large group of His disciples returned from a ministry trip, they gave a glowing report to Jesus of the success they experienced. “Even demons are subject to us in Your name,” they said (v. 19). Then Jesus put their accomplishments in proper perspective: “Do not rejoice…that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in Heaven” (vs. 20).

In essence, this is what Jesus was saying: “The source of your joy and significance shouldn’t be what you do for me, but for what I’m going to do for you on the cross!” There’s nothing we have to prove through our work for the Lord. We study and teach not in order to merit significance as a person, but as a love response to what He has done for us.

When James “Buck” Hatch observed my perfectionism and insecurity when I started as a faculty member at CIU in 1981, he told me to put up a sign in my office: Nothing to Prove. Nothing to Lose.

2.    God gets more glory through our lives when we are needy and dependent, not when we’re strong and seem to have it all together. Psalm 50:15

“Call on Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor me” (Ps. 50:15). When we’re experiencing trouble or feel too inadequate to fulfill our teaching responsibility, that’s when God can get most glory through our life and ministry! Why? Because that’s when we’re forced to call on Him for help. That’s when He gets an opportunity to display His might or to intervene on our behalf. That’s when He gets a chance to “be God” for us. He receives most honor when He acts to sustain or to enable us, when He does something for us that we could not do for ourselves. What a motivation to pray when we’re feeling helpless and hopeless about ministry! Here’s how Charles Spurgeon put it: “God gets from us most glory when we get from Him most grace.”

3.    Preachers and Bible study leaders invest in the two things that will last forever. John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 1:23-25

When we prepare for or lead a Bible class or group, we’re investing in the only two things that last forever: people (John 5:28-29), for everyone has an eternal destiny; and God’s Word (1 Peter 1:23-25), for it “abides forever.” No investment broker can guarantee better returns than when we get people into God’s Word, and God’s Word into them. This insight validates all the time and energy we spend preparing and presenting biblical material.

4.    When it comes to our teaching ministry to other believers, God has a keen memory. Hebrews 6:10

The children, youth, or adults whom we lead in a Bible study don’t always express an appreciation for our teaching. Whether we’re serving in a church’s Sunday School agency, or in Bible clubs, lead a home Bible study, or preach in the worship service, at times we all feel neglected and wonder if anyone notices our sacrifice of time and energy. When discouragement over lack of human recognition surfaces, let’s lock our mental lens on Hebrews 6:10. “God is not unjust so as to forget your work, and the love you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” It helps us to know that we’re showing love to the Lord when we prepare and present Bible studies, and that He won’t forget our labor. 

He is our primary audience when we minister. Paul said that when he spoke, he did so “in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 12:19). The late Ron Dunn was referring to 2 Corinthians 12:19 when he told his congregation, “God is my audience when I preach. You folks are just eavesdropping.”

Which text or insight from this post encourages you most right now? Do you know a pastor, Bible study leader, or Sunday School teacher who could be encouraged by these truths?

For a much more extensive coverage of these truths, see Terry’s book Serve Strong: Biblical Encouragement To Sustain God’s Servants. Put the following link on your browser to get a 40% discount from the publisher (February 2016 only). http://tinyurl.com/h9pd2e5