Some time ago I was on staff at a church whose senior pastor also served as a presbyter for the district. The senior pastor relayed this wonderful account during a staff meeting after returning from conducting ministerial interviews at the district office. A young man sat before the group of presbyters for a final interview after earlier discussions, testing, etc. All went exceptionally well and the interview was just about to close when the superintendent asked the presbyters present if they had any last questions for the new candidate. One spoke up and asked, "Is there anything that you feel could be a hindrance for you in ministry?" With all sincerity, the pastoral candidate answered, "Well, I really don’t like people."
To this day, I chuckle every time I recall that story. You and I know that ministry is all about people! And Children’s Ministry is often heavily involved in working with people in the most sensitive areas of family relationships. Many times onlookers do not comprehend the stresses and strains which often accompany your work in the ministry. I want to share a few thoughts that will aid you in dealing with and removing the stress factors you face, some of which were called to mind by a fellow pastor this week.
Let’s consider Romans 1:16, "The Gospel is the power of God for those who believe ." I have highlighted three key portions from this verse. The Gospel is the Word of God. Power is the ability to get results. And, the Amplified Bible well describes the full meaning of those who believe – the person who believes with a personal trust and confident surrender and firm reliance .
To effectively deal with this issue of stress, you must first be able to discover why you experience stress. Stress is the alternative to leaning on God. Stress usually comes from the frustrations of toiling and trying to obtain certain desired results. As the verse above from Romans makes clear, the ability to get results (power) is the Word of God (Gospel). Desired results are available to those who have a personal trust, confident surrender, and firm reliance in the Word of God. Therefore, the first step toward removing stress is for you to begin working in, moving in, operating in the power of God, the Gospel. In order to do this, you must no longer lean on your own understandings or abilities. Notice that I did not say no longer use your own abilities, for they were divinely endowed within you. The emphasis here is to no longer lean upon your abilities.
Go ahead and admit it. When you step back and take a long, penetrating look at the stressful situations you have faced, you quickly find that you were leaning upon your own abilities to work through those circumstances. As we discovered moments ago, "for those who believe" means to have a personal trust. Trust means you are leaning on the Word to support you. Your gain your wisdom and insight from it. Through it, you have the authority over every attack. Trust means that you are giving up your worry, your stress, your reliance upon your abilities. You are acting out your confident surrender. Your confidence in the absolute power of the Word then moves you to a place of rest. Confident rest is easily pictured through the scene of a courtroom hearing. At the point the legal representatives have reached the place in which they feel confident in their presentation, they REST their case believing they have won.
Rest is the point in which stress is removed. Recall that scripture encourages you to enter into His rest. You enter rest when your ‘firm reliance’ is on His Word. You are fully relying upon the Word of God, the Word of His Power, the ability to achieve the desired results through the Gospel , which is the power of God, for those who believe !
Belief must be combined with confidence and confidence must be cultivated. We usually act out of desperation, not confidence. Confidence is often the missing element to our faith. You must get into the Word to cultivate your confidence. It takes time in the Word to allow the Word of Power to change your belief away from mental agreement or desperate consent toward confident surrender and firm reliance.
Several "Personal Challenges" throughout this year have focused upon the importance of you to more vigorously be in the Word and the Word be in you. Again, it must be your priority! The Word is life! The Word is power! The Word is your foundation! The Word is your final authority! The Word is the first place you turn, not the last. The Word sows seeds of faith in your heart. Those seeds of faith must be planted in the heart before you can speak in faith, in confidence. Then the Word becomes a force that changes everything!
When God first placed the vision of writing "Empowering the Children’s Minister " upon my heart, it was from a sincere desire for you to be re-ignited with the Power of God through His Word so that you will more effectively and powerfully change lives for all of eternity. Fulfilling that vision led to creating the "Refreshing for the Children’s Minister " collection of challenges and encouragements to inspire and refresh you.
I more clearly see that they both go hand-in-hand. God has empowered you with wonderful abilities to carry out the work of the ministry. He has also equipped you with the Word of His power for your effectiveness in using those abilities. The key for you is to enter His rest through a personal trust and confident surrender and firm reliance in His Word! God guarantees you peace, rest, victory, wisdom, direction, and all that you need in EVERY situation! You will discover it in the Word!
A blessing for you today! – I declare that as you engulf yourself in the Word of Power: You are strong. You are courageous. You are more than overcomers. You have peace. You have victory. Your stress is removed. Your confidence, trust, and reliance shine forth. This day, you experience the life and power of God through His Word! For greater is He that is in you. As you abide in Him and His Words abide in you, you experience sure hope. Your faith is built up. You have everything you need for life and godliness by His divine power!
Rev. Gary R. Linn
Children’s Ministry Today