Preaching Articles



Many issues can keep a church from growing and hinder a pastor’s effectiveness. They include circumstances beyond his control (demographics or a location that hinders growth), an uncooperative board (they say No to his vision), or even family issues (a chronically ill child who requires an inordinate amount of energy).

These experiences can bring painful brokenness to a pastor’s heart. And, we seldom see any immediate benefit from our brokenness. But could God use it in our lives? I believe so.

Brokenness has touched my life in the two places where it hurts the most: my family (a child chronically ill for 25 years and a child who rebelled for many years) and my ministry (many dreams not fulfilled).

Yet, I’ve taken comfort when Jesus explained that brokenness must precede fruit bearing.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12.24)

And nineteenth-century Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard captures the essence of Jesus’ words when he wrote these words.

“God creates everything out of nothing—and everything God is to use he first reduces to nothing.”[1]

Also, Richard Foster, one of today’s most influential voices on spiritual formation, describes one of the greatest benefits from brokenness. He calls it the “crucifixion of the will” and says it brings “freedom from the everlasting burden of always having to get our own way.”[2] Always having to get our own way is the antithesis of the other-centered life Jesus modeled for us.

As I enter the sixth decade of my life and reflect over the brokenness I’ve faced as a pastor, I’m beginning to see its great value. It still hurts and I’d prefer not to face it. Yet, I’m experiencing the fruit of brokenness: inner peace, joy, and a purpose that supersedes ‘ministry success.’

How has God used brokenness in your life and ministry?

 

Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada, and the founder of StoneWell Ministries, a pastor coaching and church consulting ministry. He is the author of four books including, "People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership" (IVP 2014), and his most recent book, “Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry” (Abingdon, May 2015).

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David Jankowski

commented on Jul 28, 2016

Yes, I've experienced brokenness more times than I care to remember. It took a lot to kick the stuffings out of my prideful heart. I'm 72 years old now and still in the ministry (semi-retired, but still serving full time), and I'm a much better servant for my hurts. However, the hurts lasted a long time, and it took even longer for me to gain from them. I had to pray for the strength to forgive many, many times, and I had to pray for the wisdom to reform even more. The worst reality is that both of my children were scarred by my brokenness--one seriously.

Kent Dickerson

commented on Jul 28, 2016

I struggled with pornography while at Abilene Christian University. I was studying God's word 8-12 hours a day and still looked at a Playboy during lunch. My solution had not worked out (getting married at 19) and I did not know how to handle my sin. I continued in this situation for five years of full time preaching. Then got out, I simply did not have the spiritual straight for the job. After a couple more decades, I found myself having gone through an affair, a divorce and a remarriage. A while later, I got much more desperate to rid myself of lust. It was then that God put me on the path to real victory and real relationship with Him and my brothers. I now am back in full time ministry, writing and giving seminars encouraging others to get on their own path to victory. Kent Dickerson, remadepreacher.

Bev Sesink

commented on Jul 29, 2016

An excellent inner healing program that I would recommend for anyone in ministry is Freedom Session www.freedomsession.com. Had this been available to me earlier in my Christian service it could have saved me and others a lot of unnecessary grief. Another option is Celebrate Recovery www.celebraterecovery.com although I believe Freedom Session is better but as of yet relatively new to the United States.,

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Jul 29, 2016

What a wonderful, practical article!!! Most often the Church Leaders' need to go through suffering so that they can "GROW" thereby (Romans 5:3-4) and teach the value of suffering to their Flock, who are also being transformed into Christ-like image... I have realized that the "thorn in my flesh" rather being a deterrent in my life is making me lean on the Lord all the more whereby I am growing more in Him. At the end of the day, the congregation may not remember all the sermons of the Pastor but how he handled brokenness in his life would be "sermon" his congregation would remember.,

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Jul 29, 2016

What a wonderful, practical article!!! Most often the Church Leaders' need to go through suffering so that they can "GROW" thereby (Romans 5:3-4) and teach the value of suffering to their Flock, who are also being transformed into Christ-like image... I have realized that the "thorn in my flesh" rather being a deterrent in my life is making me lean on the Lord all the more whereby I am growing more in Him. At the end of the day, the congregation may not remember all the sermons of the Pastor but how he handled brokenness in his life would be a "sermon" his congregation would remember.,,

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