Are You Plugged Into the Power Source?
Earlier this week, my husband was ordained into ministry. He has been in ministry for several years, but he had not been officially ordained. It was such a blessing for me to sit and listen to him share his love for Christ, his passion for lost people, and his desire to help teach and train the next generation. Chris and I have had several conversations about these very things, but there is something special about watching the man that God has given you share his heart with the people he has been called to minister to day in and day out. As in most ordination services, there was a pastor friend and mentor who stood up and gave a charge to him. Out of all the things he could have said, he chose to focus on one element: remain connected to the Power Source, the Holy Spirit. As I sat and listened to him give the personal charge to Chris, I could not help but think that in those words held the key to being an effective minister and communicator of the gospel.
Paul spent three years teaching and discipling these believers in Ephesus to maturity in Christ (Acts 20:31). Listen to the words that Paul prayed over this church: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:14-19)
What they needed to be effective then, is exactly what we need to be effective now.
If we are going to be effective in our ministries, we must pray for the Spirit’s power to be released in our lives.
In verse 14, Paul prays that they would be “strengthened with power through His (Jesus) Spirit.” If you belong to Christ, you had the Holy Spirit from the moment of your salvation (Rom. 8:1-17). You will never receive any more of the Spirit than you did at your new birth – God gives the Spirit without measure (Jn 3:34)! But so many of us fail to operate day in and day out in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is so easy to rely on our training, our faithful upbringing, and our charismatic personality instead of daily (sometimes moment by moment) getting on our faces before God and begging Him to show His power in our lives. I have been in ministry for almost 12 years, and after a while it gets easy to teach a Bible study without adequate preparation, counsel a teenager or struggling mother without spiritually preparing for the encounter, or use my seminary-trained mind and vocabulary to “WOW” someone without truly relying the Spirit’s power. God convicted my heart and brought me back to the central focus of my ministry: I must rely on and operate out of the Spirit’s power in order to have a ministry that is pleasing to God.
If we are going to be effective in our ministries, we must be “rooted and grounded in love” through the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is nothing more challenging than to love people who do not show you love and respect in return. Scripture teaches that we are to be patient, kind, forgiving, and loving towards one another (1 Cor 13). I remember the excitement I felt when, after graduating from seminary, God allowed me to serve as a girl’s minister in a local church. I loved the ministry He had called me to with the girls, but I was not prepared for all of the demands and bickering I experienced with the parents! There was one instance in which a parent came into a restaurant and loudly demanded to speak to me. She proceeded to lecture and embarrass me in front of the entire restaurant. I had taken a “Relationships in the Ministry” class, but nothing in that class prepared me for this encounter! In that moment I had a choice to make: I could respond in anger or respond in love. God always allows difficult situations in our lives, which can reveal where we are spiritually. In moments like these, we do not have time to get spiritually “ready” to exhibit love; we must daily allow the Spirit to fill us with the love of Christ in order to show His love to a dying, lost, and hurting world. When you are attacked by a parent, a co-worker, a church member, or a denominational leader, you and I must be ready to respond with the love of Christ instead of anger.
If we are going to be effective in our ministries, we must be “filled with all the fullness of God.”
No amount of seminary training or corporate Bible study will give you the fullness of God in Christ Jesus! We must daily be on our knees before God begging Him to fill us and equip us to do the work He has called us to do. Paul is a great example of this. He had been trained under the best scholars and was considered one of the most influential scholars of his day. According to the religious leaders, he had a very bright future ahead of him. Still, he did not know or operate under the Spirit’s authority and power. But all of that changed when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). After his encounter with Jesus, you see a man, full of the Holy Spirit, become one of the first missionaries, who took the gospel of Christ to the known world. He did more for the kingdom of God and had more of a lasting impact on the world after his conversion than he would have if he stayed a “religious leader.” I so desperately want to be more than just a “religious leader” who taught and influenced women. I want to be known as someone who displays the love, power, and fullness of God because I daily relied on the Spirit’s power.
Each of us has a different ministry God has asked us to fulfill. Some of us have full-time ministry positions in the local church. Some of us have full-time ministries in the workplace. And some of us have full-time ministries in our homes raising small children. Whatever your ministry, I want us to ask ourselves: Am I operating through the power of the Holy Spirit, or am I relying on something or someone else as my power source? My prayer for all of us is that we would realize the amazing power we have been given through the Holy Spirit and then turn to Him daily, asking Him to fill us and equip us in order to effectively do the ministry He has entrusted to us.