We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defence. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.2 Corinthians 6:3-10
This is another of those interesting lists of Paul. I find this fascinating reading in these current times. What would be the credentials of true ministers of God these days? Well here is an option circulating on the internet.
THE PERFECT PASTOR
A recent survey compiled all the qualities that people expect from the perfect pastor:
- ~ Preaches exactly 12 minutes.
- ~ Frequently condemns sin but never upsets anyone.
- ~ Works from 8 a.m. until midnight and is also a janitor.
- ~ Makes $60 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $80 a week to the poor.
- ~ 28 years of age and has been preaching for 30 years.
- ~ Wonderfully gentle and good-looking.
- ~ A burning desire to work with teenagers, but is always with the senior citizens.
- ~ Makes 15 daily calls to church families, visits shut-ins and the hospitalized, evangelizes the unchurched, and is always in the office when needed.
To that some would add:
- demonstrates a successful ministry,
- is prosperous and wealthy,
- leads a growing vibrant church,
- has no troubles or hardships.
- Clearly he is a member of the prosperity set.
God is clearly blessing him so his ministry is marked with the stamp of success. Right?
- endures troubles, hardships and calamities,
- is beaten, imprisoned, faces angry mobs,
- works to exhaustion, endures sleepless nights,
- goes without food,
- despised, slandered, called impostors, ignored,
- close to death
- poor and owning nothing.
Hardly the marks of a successful minister in this day and age. So which is the list of the true credentials of a minister of God.
Let Hebrews 11 throw some light on it. From Hebrews 11:1-35 is a list of the heroes of the faith and the things they accomplished. Then starting in verse 35 are the list of others.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, [some were tested,] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.Hebrews 11:35-39
These heroes of the faith fit Paul’s list better than the modern interpretation. Then the writer to the Hebrews finishes with verse 40, which I like how Eugene Peterson has captured it in the Message Version.
“God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.”Hebrews 11:40
It is the combo of both sets of experiences in which God expresses His perfection. The success group and the failure group come together to demonstrate God’s ways. Note God says through Hebrews 11, “of whom the world was not worthy”. These “failures” in the eyes of the modern world are the true heroes. It is not always up and up to greater degrees of success. It is sometimes down and down further, but still saints of God.
Adversity introduces a man to himself. You know more about yourself when you go through pain & suffering.Ian Vail
Never desire another’s success until you know the sacrifice, pain & pressure they went through to achieve it.Rick Warren
God often does His best work in us through brokenness. Remember the lessons of the Ostraca, vessels appointed to be broken.Ian Vail