“There is more moral persuasion in a good man’s life than in the highest efforts of an orator’s genius.” —Thomas Chalmers
“All ministers should be revival ministers, and all preaching should be revival preaching.” —C. G. Finney
“A man set on fire is an apostle of his age…
Tell me, is your ministry a burning and shining light,
or a smoking wick, slowly dying out to ashes? …
It is a strange custom that we should supply
a minister with a glass of water;
if only we could supply him with a bonfire
in the pulpit, a spiritual bonfire.
We need the dynamic of a flaming ministry
that will set the Church on fire.”
—Samuel M. Zwemer
“Revivals are among the charter rights of the Church…A revival means a heartbroken pastor. A revival means a church on its knees confessing its sins—the sins of the individual and the Church—confessing the sins of the times and of the community.” —E. M. Bounds
Godliness with contentment is great gain, but contentment apart from an obvious sense of God’s presence is a tragedy. As ministers we must do more than put in time, more than put out fires, more than just get by, more than maintain, more than make a fair show in the flesh, more than hang on until retirement.
Every pastor has a variety of duties to which he must be faithful. Chief among these are prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). But your primary task is your own holiness. Walking in step with the Spirit is the prerequisite for experiencing the power of God. As you commune with God, pay attention to your sanctified desires. “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Ps. 37:4). When you are filled with the Spirit, the things you want are what God wants. God gives direction to His servants through holy longings and aspirations.
Leadership is Influence
As an under shepherd, you are not called merely to “wait on your congregation;” you must lead them. Too often the shepherds are following the sheep instead of the sheep following the shepherd. It is a serious and awesome obligation to be responsible for a group of people. Leadership is influence, and people are influenced more by passion than position. Your personal passion is your greatest resource in ministry. In order to impact people, leaders employ messages, modeling, motivation, and mentoring. Likewise, every shepherd should use these tools to equip the saints for ministry. Inherent in these tools are the vital elements of instruction, inspection, and inspiration. These ingredients, coupled with the blasting cap of the Holy Spirit, can ignite the dynamite power of God in your midst.
The pastor is responsible to set the tone and the vision for the sheep. It has been said, “Sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart.” God’s man must discover, embrace, and implement the God-given vision for the church he shepherds. Leadership styles will vary, but above all pastors must LEAD! Like the Children of Issachar, the man of God must understand the times and know what Israel ought to do (See 1 Chron. 12:32).
Every church goes through “seasons,” and we are commanded to be “instant in season, out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2). A living church moves through different periods of emphasis, such as in-reach (cleansing), side-reach (fellowship), on-reach (discipleship), up-reach (prayer), and outreach (evangelism). Of course all these are taking place simultaneously to some extent in a vibrant congregation. But there are seasons of emphasis that a sensitive shepherd will instinctively recognize and accentuate.
The Pastor Must Hear from God
When the early churches in Asia Minor strayed, God sent personal letters to the angels (messengers or pastors) of those churches. He spoke directly to the pastors and urged them to address and rectify the problems. I believe there are “key situations” in most churches that merit immediate attention. As leaders act upon these crucial matters, it frees up the atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully. How many churches are waiting for God to move while God is waiting on those churches to obey? How many congregations could be in the throes of a mighty refreshing if only their leaders would prepare the way by obeying the Word of God?
A pastor called me from the Northwestern United States. In the course of our conversation he spoke with enthusiasm about an event taking place within his church. A guest preacher was scheduled to speak on a Sunday. Instead, that Sunday service had extended into fifteen days. People were being saved and unusual things were taking place. I asked what had preceded this deluge. He explained how they were compelled to bring church discipline on a member who was living in sin. This pastor led his congregation in complying with the clear-cut directives of Scripture for dealing with a brother living immorally. Though unpleasant and difficult, this discipline was absolutely necessary. The church would have missed this time of refreshing if the preacher had disobeyed by delaying. It is always best to obey God fully.
Your “Life” is the Life of Your Ministry
Throughout history God has ordered human civilization through channels of authority. If you study church history you will find that God works through leadership. Pastor, the best thing you can do to promote revival in your church is to be revived personally. J.D. Drysdale said, “We accomplish more by our radiations than by our exhortations.” I remember a prayer meeting where a brother prayed, “Lord, bless the preacher. Lord, bless the preacher. Because if You bless the pastor, we will get blessed too!” Life touches life.
Jonathan Edwards recorded these words as God was preparing him for the great revival of 1739: “I rode out into the wood and in a retired place dismounted. There I had a view of the glory of the Son of God—a view which continued for about an hour, which kept me for the greater part in tears. I felt an urgency of soul to be emptied, to lie at His feet; to be filled with Christ and Christ alone.” Here was a man possessed with a consciousness of the divine that created within him a strong confidence in the power of God.
Our mission is to permeate the courts of time with the atmosphere of eternity. In order for this to happen, we must operate under the potent anointing of the Holy Spirit. What happens “in” us determines what happens “through” us.
Away with the theology that puts God out of business! Away with the ministerial complacency that doesn’t stir a person to pursue God with intensity! Away with the all-too-common addiction to the mediocre!
Brother, look to the Lord in faith for a season of reawakening. Heaven’s resources are waiting to be appropriated. You may have suffered a setback. The Devil may have launched an all-out attack on you, your family, and church. Maybe you are profoundly discouraged through your own failure or circumstances beyond your control. You don’t have to remain under that Juniper tree! God’s grace is greater than anything Hell may throw at you. If you have been knocked down, don’t stay down. Get on your knees, get clean, get filled, get up, and get going!
You can pray for, preach for, and prepare for the invasion of the Spirit both personally and corporately. Someone asked Alan Redpath if he thought the church was out of touch with people in his generation. He replied, “No, we are not out of touch with our generation. Our problem is we are out of touch with God!” As you get in touch with God your heart will be quickened with promises from His Word. Lay hold on these promises in faith. Like Jacob, refuse to let go until you receive God’s best.
You may not be a pastor, but he desperately needs prayers and support from his flock. There is not a more difficult and demanding assignment on earth. Do everything in your power to encourage and assist God’s man.
For more information on revival preaching, read Fire in the Pulpit.
Questions to Ponder
- According to 1 Timothy 6:6, what is “great gain”?
- What are chief among the variety of duties to which every pastor must be faithful?
- What is the pastor’s primary task?
- What is the prerequisite for experiencing the power of God?
- According to the chapter, what has God called under shepherds to do?
- What is the pastor’s greatest resource in ministry?
- What tools do pastors use to equip the saints for ministry?
- What has 2 Timothy 4:2 commanded pastors to “be”?
- What is the best thing a pastor can do to promote revival in his church?
- According to this chapter, what is the pastor’s mission?
This chapter is taken from Revival In Our Time: Outside The Box—Inside the Book!
Written by Evangelist Harold Vaughan