No, I’m not talking about the flesh, females, and finance 😀 I’m aware those have been preached about countless times.
Also, when I mention “ministry” here, I’m not just talking about the pulpit. I’m referring to anyone God has given a message to pass on to another, especially those called to share the Word in any capacity: Pastor, Teacher, Sunday School/Bible Study teacher, Teen Pastor, Parent, Scribe.
These three F’s seem slightly similar, but are actually different, and they are:
Whatever your type of message – whether it’s the general gospel or a specific word, whether it’s to a ‘distant’ group (congregation, readers, viewers) or to close individuals (spouse, friend, sibling, or child) – one of the biggest things God will deal with in you is fear – especially the fear of what people will say or think.
When God takes you out of your comfort zone – which is pretty often – and He tells you to do or say things which could be misunderstood, unpopular, or downright uncomfortable in your circle or environment, you would have to overcome fear. Or do it afraid.
God is not interested in popularity contests – and He doesn’t expect you to be, either.
With God, only one thing is important as a minister of the Gospel – and that is the Message.
If you are to be an effective in ministry, you must overcome fear.
(2) Favour – or Favouritism
This is where you do not say what God wants you to say – because you like the people or persons; or you do not want the group/person to feel bad, so you water-down the message.
I remember a popular minister sharing how his normally strict wife had a soft spot for certain individuals in their church, so that even when they erred, she was ‘light’ on them – allowing them get away with almost anything. He had to call her back to order because, at that time, she was unaware of what she was doing – and he knew the long-term repercussions of such actions.
God is not a respecter of persons.¹ Jesus blessed Peter and told him, “Flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to you.” However, in the same chapter, He rebuked Peter sharply: “Get thee behind me, Satan!”² despite his initial revelation.
As a minister of the gospel, there will be many occasions to try to coddle certain individuals, or dilute specific messages for them because of their gifts/talents, generosity (yes, I said it), service, honour for you – or the love you have for them.
A female minister told how she had been overwhelmed with grief after she had lost a child through miscarriage. Because of that, for a very long time, she allowed her service and consecration to God slip.
Finally, one day, her hitherto-quiet husband wrote her a letter. In it, he reminded her of what she had told him while they were courting – plans for her ministry, and certain words God had told her. He reminded her of her calling and rebuked her over her current state.
The letter was an unexpected bomb, lambasting her – but each paragraph ending with “I love you. I love you. I love you.” After ending one paragraph, he would begin another with strong verbal flogging, then end with, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
She said it was a wake-up call for her. If he had coddled her because he loved her, didn’t want to hurt her, or didn’t want to seem insensitive, she would still have been wallowing endlessly in grief and self-pity. That strong letter made her get up, shake off her grief, get back into ministry – and today, they are blessed with children.
Withholdng a message, diluting it, or not correcting because you like a person/people is definitely not God’s kind of love. “..Whom the Father loves, He chastises.³…”
A lot of ministers, especially those who constantly deal with the same group of people (like pastors) can easily fall into this pit – because they are too familiar with the people.
Let me explain using an illustration.
One weekend, Pastor Daniel prepares a message on “Financial Conflict in The Family.” No one knows what he is going to teach on. However, on Saturday evening, Mr. And Mrs. James come to visit. They are having financial troubles because Mr. James is currently out of a job, and Mrs. James seems to be wasteful with the finances.
Pastor Daniel counsels the couple, and they leave.
The next day, at church, Pastor Daniel mounts the podium and says, “Today’s topic is ‘Resolving Financial Conflict In The Family.’
Immediately, He sees Mr. and Mrs. James look at each other, then back at him. Their look says, “Really? So we are now the topic of discussion because we came to you for counselling, right?”
Almost every minister has experienced this: times God drops an analogy or illustration in your heart that’s too close to home. It might even be a word of wisdom/knowledge that you are reluctant to share because you know someone/people going through that exact situation – and it would be as though you were referring to them.
-You are unwilling to talk about bitterness – so your wife wouldn’t think you are talking about her.
-You don’t share about teenage drug addiction – because Dr. O broke down last week in your office, confessing her son was in rehab.
Basically, even though you feel the urge to, you keep mum about certain issues because someone you know is going through the same thing – and you could be misunderstood.
So, what’s the best way to overcome this fear?
When you hesitate to share a message because of one or two persons, remember that there are ten, a hundred, a thousand, even a million other people who desperately need that message.
Don’t shut-off your supply of living water because of one person/group – when there is a multitude of thirsty people lined up to drink.
Fear. Favor. Familiarity. Which have you struggled with?
(¹Acts10:34; ²Matthew 16:16-23; ³Hebrews 12:6)
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What a pertinent reminder! I let fear and fear of hurting someone’s feelings interfere all too often.
I’ve most definitely struggled with fear.. thanks for this, God bless you
Amen – and you too 🙂
I think I’ve probably struggled most with fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of what people think, etc…
Fear is usually the biggest obstacle. Thanks, Brynn 🙂
I think I have struggled with fear and familiarity.
Fear probably because I was ministering in the presence of my leaders and, they might have a bias perspective towards my manner of preaching (I’m a person who preaches bluntly).
Familiarity in the sense that, my audience would sometimes go lukewarm if I am “loose” with them. Not until recently when I preached down-to-earth for most of the time and, they paid rapt attention. When I try to be “loose” with them, they also slack. So, I conclude that, if being firm gets them on track, then, I’d stick with that.
The Lord remains your stay and sufficiency, sis Debby!
Familiarity in a small town, and a small church, with people you’ve known all your life is hard. We do have to be careful though that the message is inspired by the Holy Spirit and not our own voice choosing to speak publicly what should be spoken privately…
So, so true, Sharon! Wisdom and discretion is needed as ministers. Thank you, Sharon 🙂
Wow, that’s interesting…! I also like the fact that you are finding out the most effective means of communicating the Gospel – for you.
Thanks for reading – and Amen to your prayers 🙂