You must also know the entreater. While it is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit to get people to listen and respond. We are the package for the message. This is why prosperity preachers must wear expensive suits, Rolexs and have jets and multi-million dollar homes. For them to hawk their message, they must look the part. Would you buy a stock tip or a book on “How I Achieved My Wealth” from a man dressed in rags standing in front of a cardboard box that is obviously his home?
If the world knows how to package junk in a box so pretty that you will buy it and then use media to even make you like the junk you bought we have to be careful how we package the message. Man does look on the outside while God looks on the heart. Yet, we do not have to do the slick packaging of Madison Avenue or the televangelists.
Our outward attire can be really quite simple. For many, many years a pastor wore a black suit and tie with a white shirt and black socks and shoes. I am not much of a clothes horse so that is a fine outfit for me. If I had my way, I would have twelve white Western shirts, twelve pair of black Western pants and no ties unless they were bolos. I would have two pairs of Cowboy boots and a pair of sneakers. Casual dress would be black jeans and a t-shirt or Western shirt of some color. I would live in a sweat suit around the house. I am a simple man.
Some of us require more of a variety, but simple should be the rule regardless of style. You want to have people’s attention focused on what you are saying, not your regalia. I have ministered to plenty of people who would have been turned off if I were in a suit. Old people would be turned off if I did not wear one. Come in all dressed to the nines and many will think you are flaunting your wealth or you are vain. Even rich corporate types have scaled down. Simple is always good.
Part of knowing yourself as the entreater is how you responded to that. If that raised your cockles a bit then you might be a bit vain or have a self-image that needs to be supported or bolstered by attire. You have to be less like the World and more like the Master if you are going to properly package the message.
Jesus would not have stood out in the crowd of His day. He would not have adopted the attire of a hippie, grunger, punker, or even the typical attire of a Rabbi though He was called one. He earned that title by His character and the content of the message. His appearance had little to do with it. Isaiah said there was nothing that would be very noticeable about Him so the pictures of the blue-eyed, light skinned, Nazarite who had not performed his vow are far off from the usual appearance of a Jewish man of the time. Paul became all things to all men that by all means he could win some, but he would not have put on black lipstick or wore a Mohawk. He spoke to the Jews from the Law and to the Gentiles without the Law. That is the point of his meaning. He spoke so they understood, not dress as they were dressed or immersed himself in their Gentile culture.
Below is a link to the lyrics of a modern song that asks which Jesus do you follow. He is a bit blunt, so be warned, but he has many good points. We have made many Jesus characters in the US and really the first world nations that no one in the rest of the world would know or recognize. We have made Him the Jesus of our side whether it is from a national or denominational perspective. We even have the God of the Cowboys because the sky is blue unless you are in North Carolina then He is a Tar Heels fan because the sky is Carolina blue. We have made Him the Jesus of the American dream with some maybe even thinking He wears the flag as His robe.
If you serve any of those types of Jesus or some other variation that I missed instead of the true Jesus then you will not be a good entreater because you will be packing the message wrongly. Leave your campaign buttons off of His message. As King, He did not come to run for office. You should use biblical truths as the primary reason to choose your candidates, but He is not affiliated with any party. Indeed, He slapped every group that existed at the time for none were sinless and so it is today. Thus you look for the person/party or whatever that supports the most biblical truth and vote that way, but when you are on the street or in the pulpit you are to be representing the King and building His kingdom not yours or any other kingdom.
You must know yourself if you are going to be able to deliver the correct message. If your motivation for service is about having more in your pews or for your glory and profit instead of for His glory then you are doing it all wrong. People do ministry for many reasons and many of those reasons are wrong.
A top psychiatry professor once said that many enter the career field seeking to cure to their own problems. That could be said of ministers as well. Some enter for penitence to make up for some sin or a sinful life. Some do it to appease God or in hopes God will forgive or love them more. Some find it to be a great ego pleaser or booster because it is a respectable career field. Some enter to attempt to make easy money and many succeed at that. Others want to control people and it is much easier when you can claim God told you what to tell people to do. Many women are led astray because their pastor convinced them to have an affair with them. Some are Momma called and Daddy sent. Some cannot find or maintain a good job so they get a call to ministry. Indeed, in the South if you wake lazy and hungry for chicken some see that as a call to ministry. It would be interesting to study how many more people get called to ministry during a recession compared to boom times. There are many wrong reasons to enter ministry.
We have turned the ministry into a career field instead of a calling and that is wrong. Back in the day when men seeking ministry trained under a godly pastor who could pray for and watch the growth of a man you had a better chance to get a better minister. Our colleges today have too large of classes and do not weed out folks that are obviously not called for with such large amounts of students it is easy to hide your weaknesses and get through a degree program. Jesus only had a class of twelve for three years, not six sessions of thirty per semester.
The intentions may have been good, but we have created far more ministers liked Demas, Judas and Simon of Samaria than Peter, Paul and John because we cannot have the time with them to discern their character and pray for God's guidance. It is true that the colleges only provide training and not ordinations. The churches do the ordaining, but after a person has graduated from bible college or seminary it is far easier to be ordained because the church feels like you are obviously called by God or you would not have gone or finished if you were not. After all, you now know the right words and handshakes and no one would fake those things to advance an ulterior motive or agenda, right? Wrong. Many of the charlatans have graduated from a school and some major schools have graduates they wish did not have a degree from them.
You may think that you know yourself and that your motives are pretty good, if not perfectly pure. Is your motivation for more in the pew or for God's glory? Most of God's men never truly knew who they were until after they failed miserably. Moses tried to deliver Israel in his own logic and spent forty years on the backside of the desert before he knew who he was and how dependent he needed to be upon God. Even after his failure to speak to the rock cost him entering into the Promised Land, he still ends up on the mount of transfiguration to speak with Jesus. He would have never have thought he would have such a blessing. God is merciful.
David was a man who panted after God like a thirsty animal, yet he did not truly know himself or he would have never slept with Bathsheba or killed Uriah. He thought he was a pretty righteous man. After that, he prayed for purging, cleansing, a clean heart and to renew the right spirit he had until he drifted from where he had been with God. Wealth and power can cause you to drift and even shipwreck.
Peter is my soul brother. I have too many of his bad characteristics. When I was first saved, I wanted to be like Peter and Paul, but I had no idea what that entailed. I was only looking their victories and not their failures. Peter had some strong suits, but they were often trumped by his braggadocio or self-confidence. He knew who he was when Jesus looked at him after the third cock crow.
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” ― A. W. Tozer
Jesus had His Judas. Paul had his Alexander the Coppersmith and even a church full of his converts who questioned his apostleship as well as a Demas. John had his Diotrephes. You will have yours, if you stay in ministry any length of time. Sometimes bad is good for you. These betrayers will make you know yourself because you can see the next one coming by analyzing how you misjudged them. They will also make you more immune to flattery or apparent success because you will trust more in God than in yourself or the favor of men. It will hurt and it will hurt deeply, but it will prepare your for future service and blessing. It will make you more discerning.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. KJV
Sometimes God will hurt you in other ways. We are so good at self-deception and justification of our sins, especially the secret ones only we and God know. Because there is so much crazy stuff going on today in both the church and culture we can compare our sins with others and feel pretty good about ourselves. We minimize our sins by aggrandizing our accomplishments so that we convince ourselves that we are on a really high and tight road when we are sidetracked and even in a ditch. We accept a dry, mundane, religious routine as normal and not even desire a more dynamic walk with Christ.
Dr. Tozer gives us some good checkpoints to see how we are really doing in our walk and that give us a chance to make adjustments in areas we may not have ever even given consideration.
“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”
- A. W. Tozer
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.