Preaching Articles

It was just about a month ago that we celebrated Easter.  And summer is just around the corner.  The ministry season from January through May can be intense, busy, and draining.  I have no doubt that some pastors reading this article are fatigued and their tank feels empty.

You have been preparing messages, solving problems, shepherding people, planning ministry events, casting vision, and developing your volunteers.  God has been working THRU you to bless and minister to others.  And it is easy in ministry to let that become your entire focus.  

But in today’s article, I want to talk about God’s work IN you.

Ultimately, if God is not working in you, the joy of his work through you will be short-lived.  And, then there are those times when God doesn’t seem to be working through you when the ministry isn’t growing.  When you can’t see the evidence of much fruit. In those times it is his work IN you that will carry you through those times.

So today it is not about producing, planning, implementing, recruiting, or problem-solving.  Today, it is about you receiving.

Receiving!  That’s a word that we pastor’s don’t embrace very well.  Our lives are about giving out, not taking in.  Our lives are about serving others not receiving for ourselves.

There is an interesting encounter in the book of Mark that is about receiving.  And this brief story can be helpful for us as pastors.

It is the story of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus.  

47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!”50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
Mark 10:46-52 (NLT)

This was a day of incredible opportunity for Bartimaeus.  It was not easy for him to get to Jesus, but there was a kind of desperation in Bartimaeus that would not be denied.  When the voices around him tried to silence him, he just cried out louder.

I love that Jesus was stopped in his tracks by the cry of Bartimaeus.

Jesus calls for him.  Bartimaeus jumps to this feet, throws off his cloak and runs to Jesus.  Notice his anticipation, desperation and abandon!!

The Jesus does something a little curious.  He asks “what do you want me to do for you?”

Jesus already knew what Bartimaeus needed, so why did he ask the question.  I believe Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to name and declare his need and longing.

I want you to get quiet for a moment and imagine Jesus asking you that question… “What do you want me to do for you?”

As pastors, we often ask that question of others.  We want to know how we can help them or serve them.  But I suspect there are some of us who have never stopped to consider that Jesus asks that question to us.

Maybe you don’t even know what you want and need from God these days.  Perhaps you are so out of touch with your soul, the question leaves you perplexed.

Let me challenge you to ponder that question.  Sit with it for awhile.  

Maybe it is something deeply personal.  Maybe your deep longing today has to do with your family.  Or perhaps there is some ministry challenge that you would love for Jesus to help with.

It is ok and good for us as leaders to declare our longings and needs. Can I remind you today that you were a person before you were a pastor.  And you have the same needs as any other person God ever created.  Sometimes as leaders in ministry we get disconnected from our own needs and longings.  

Your heavenly Father tenderly cares about what you are going through.  He already knows what you need… but sometimes it is helpful for us to declare what we long for and put ourselves in the position to receive.  Today I hope you can hear the gentle and generous voice of Jesus asking you “what do you want me to do for you”?

Lance is the founder of Replenish ministries and is often referred to as a Pastor’s Pastor.  He is also the author of the book Replenish, which is dedicated to helping leaders live and lead from a healthy soul.  Before launching Replenish, Lance served 20 years as a senior pastor and 6 years as an Executive/Teaching pastor at Saddleback Church. 

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