Who has influenced your thinking as a Bible student? Up until the time I went to seminary, I had accepted an interpretation of Revelation based on my religious training and heritage. At seminary I adopted a new interpretation of Revelation based on the teachings of a professor. The professor greatly influenced my thinking.
My last name is Patrick. I am of Irish descent. Irish folks are given credit for being impatient people. That certainly holds true in our family. My grandfather was not a patient man. My father was not a patient man. I have struggled with patience. The roots run deep.
“I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).
In the Kingdom of God, leaders are required to be servants.
Many a pastor misses this, and if he learns it at all, not before he has made many a bone-headed mistake and left a lot of good people bleeding in his wake.
We lead by serving. We do not lead by dominating.
Last year my wife and I built a new home. While we were building we also dug a small catfish pond. We have been excited about this new venture (the pond). Each afternoon we feed the catfish. We can almost see them growing before our eyes. We anticipate the day we catch our first fish. Recently I made two mistakes that, due to my inexperience, almost killed our fish.
How do you handle frustration? Notice I did not say, “How to Avoid Frustration.” When you serve in ministry the question is not “if” but “when” you face frustration. It is a daily companion when working with people.
When I think of frustration I am always drawn to Moses. We get frustrated dealing with 50, 100, or 200 people. This is not to minimize your frustration but to magnify Moses as a learning model. Moses had to manage a whole nation. WOW! There came a point when his frustration caught up with him.
In Numbers 20 we read the story. Moses had led the Israelites to Kadesh. As they travelled they came to a place where they had no water. The people complained about this discomfort. In Numbers 16:41 we read of another period of complaining. In short, frustration was building for Moses as he heard the complaints. He was like a steam kettle, ready to blow off steam. In verse 10 Moses spouts off, “Hear now, you rebels!” Have we not felt similar frustration?
Sunday I had an amazing day at church. I taught Sunday school and shared one of the most memorable Sunday school experiences I can remember. It was memorable because of what the people taught me. The small group members shared insights and thoughts that blessed my heart. They shared thoughts that did not occur to me as I prepared to teach the lesson.
Discouragement comes with the territory for ministry leaders. Unmet goals, putting out fires, staff issues, displeasing people, and general tiredness all contribute to discouragement. When it weighs us down, how can we dig out?
The life of the prophet Elijah gives us hope.
I Kings 18-19 tells the story of his amazing confrontation with the prophets of Baal. The people of Israel had gathered on Mount Carmel along with 450 prophets of Asherah. They set up a sacrifice and the 450 pagan prophets summoned their gods to provide rain. Nothing happened. Then Elijah summoned the one, true God who showed His power by not only consuming the sacrifice but also ending the drought.
Have you been to a pity party lately? We enjoy them so much that we are tempted to plan them on a regular basis. The only problem is, we are usually the only guests and we feel worse for attending the party.
David attended a pity party from time to time. One occasion was recorded in Psalm 38. “My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, And plan deception all the day long.” (Vs. 10-12 NKJV)