Weight of insufficient ministry forces us to the Sufficient One
By Chris Hefner
The funeral of a full-term baby and ministry to a grief-stricken couple. A marriage in desperate need of repentance and rescue. The salvation of a friend who consistently rejects his need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. These were ministry situations I faced.
I had no words of comfort for the couple. One day the baby was healthy. The next day the baby wasn’t moving in the womb. An untimely death soon followed, and a couple grieved over the life that carried their hopes and dreams.
I had little help for the marriage. It was a marriage where only one partner wanted help. It’s exceedingly difficult to offer hope and guidance in a situation marked by deceit and resentment.
I had only the gospel for my friend. I’ve prayed, shared, defended, explained, preached and pleaded all toward the salvation of sinners. But I cannot save.
Much of my ministry during this period, or any period for that matter, is glaringly insufficient.
There are times when I don’t have words of comfort to offer. There are times when wisdom eludes me. There are times when my preaching or my gospel witness stumbles and stutters. And this is a good thing.
When our ministry is insufficient, we must go to the only Sufficient One.
Not every period in my ministry is like this one. Many days are joyous. Often they’re rather uneventful. Some are memorable. A few are ego building.
When that right mix of gifts, opportunity and need coalesce and God uses you, it can be exhilarating. When that church member encourages you or supports you while you’re out on a limb, it can be thrilling.
But we must remember that our gifts, ministries, words, wisdom and leadership are not primary. Ultimately they’re insufficient because we’re insufficient.
Only the Spirit of Jesus can bring sinners to repentance, bring healing and forgiveness to broken relationships and bring comfort to a grief-stricken family. I needed to feel the weight of insufficient ministry. God sustained me and reminded me of my daily need for Him.
In each of these situations God intervened. In each God revealed Himself sufficient. I was privileged to witness the glorious sufficiency of the Savior.
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).
EDITOR’S NOTE — Chris Hefner is pastor of Wilkesboro Baptist Church in North Carolina. This article originally appeared on at research.lifeway.com/2019/07/11/the-weight-of-insufficient-ministry.
Are you confident God is in the details?
By Karen Moore Barbour
When the Israelites walked through the wilderness with Moses for 40 years, they had to travel light. In fact, Deuteronomy 29:5 says God took such good care of His people that their clothes and their sandals didn’t even wear out. Forty years of walking and their shoes still looked brand new.
Most of us never think twice about our shoes wearing out because we have shoes for a wide variety of occasions … but the point here is that God took care of His people. He provided all they needed, even down to making sure their shoes were fit for the journey.
What about you? Are you confident God is in the details of your life? Do you trust He is leading you into the future, aware of everything you need, ready to act on your behalf in the days ahead? Maybe God is even calling you to step into some new shoes. Maybe He has a whole new direction for you to go and He just wants you to follow along.
You need to keep walking closely with Him, leaning in to hear His voice and catching up if you’ve fallen behind. After that, you have to choose to step up and out in faith every day.
God may have a mission for you that is unlike the work anyone else has to do. He might have a direction for your life that can only happen if you are willing to get going and walk with Him.
He might even have new shoes that will fit better than anything you’ve ever imagined before.
By Matt Henslee
2022 SBC Pastors Conference president
After a year of fundraising, planning and a whole lot of prayer, the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference was over before I could even blink. It was a joy to see a year’s worth of hard work come together with strong preaching, vibrant singing, passionate praying and generous giving.
I just wish it lasted longer than a day and a half.
It was a joy to move around the room a bit to visit with pastors and take it in as a listener — even though I didn’t get to hear all of it.
As the president, there was always another conversation to have or crisis to address.
Still, I had a blast and am incredibly proud of our preachers for their faithfulness to preach the Word verse by verse through Colossians.
When the Pastors Conference wrapped up and moved into the rear view as Southern Baptists turned their attention to the SBC Annual Meeting or traveling home, my email, direct messages and texts went overboard.
I became inundated by messages from folks who either couldn’t make it on time due to flight delays, missed a sermon or two, or couldn’t come at all and wanted a way to catch up on the sermons or sessions they missed.
Thanks to ACTS2 TV, an authentically Christian and theologically sound entertainment alternative, anyone could watch the entire SBC Pastors Conference live.
Sermon audio, video files
ACTS2 also was gracious enough to upload the individual sermons and homilies to make
it easy for folks to watch.
However, some wanted a way to listen to the sermons on the go, instead of watching them.
Thanks again to ACTS2 and Jon Graham, who graciously provided the files of each sermon and homily, so I could get to work on a podcast option, “2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference.”
After securing an introduction from Joseph Crider of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I uploaded each message to a podcast platform and submitted them to various podcast directories.
Now they are available to all. You can listen to every sermon or homily.
I invite you to listen to the “2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference” podcast wherever podcasts are found, like iTunes, Spotify or Anchor.
From the Twitterverse
The inability to show charity and patience toward people with whom we disagree is evidence of spiritual immaturity. Right doctrine matters, but it must produce love or it is nothing.
Struggling with sin? Then be encouraged. Why? It’s a sign of spiritual life. Corpses don’t struggle.
Repentance is not seen in tears; it is not seen in words; it is not seen in emotion. Repentance is long, slow, consistent change over an extended period of time because it is from the heart outward. Heart change is supernatural work.
The associational principle is deeply ingrained in Baptist DNA. Praise the Lord. It is a good thing for like-minded churches in close proximity to partner together for the sake of the mission. This same principle also applies regionally (state conventions) and nationally (the SBC).
A Christian will not thrive in this world until he or she can be dead to the approval of this world.
No one in Heaven is fretfully hoping that your sermon next Sunday will be good enough to get the job done, pastor. Get close to God. Get the text into your heart. Then trust Him who knows the hearts of your congregation to make use of our imperfect efforts.
Let’s be content to live a normal Christian life.
Nothing to prove.
No one to impress.
Love your family. Serve others.
Worry more about character than platform.
Have integrity. Trust Jesus daily.
Finish the race.
No pressure to be epic.
Focus on faithfulness.
You can be firm in your convictions and not be a jerk. It’s possible. I promise.
“Praise the Lord for calling people to go and share His message of Grace.” Shawn Parker, Mississippi Baptist Convention Board