Preaching Articles

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Acts 9:15-16

Most of us focus on the incredible accomplishments of Paul.
How he wrote 2/3 of the New Testament.
Took the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Became the greatest missionary and one of the greatest preachers ever.

Sometimes we’ll point out his suffering. But it’s usually isolated. We use it to talk about pain and trials and how to get through them. Or how God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. All of that is true, but I think we often miss a crucial point.

Paul’s accomplishments and his suffering went together.
And there’s a reason for that.

It’s not because God had some kind of a secret vendetta against Paul. He had killed Christians, so why not make him drink a little of his own medicine while using him to spread the gospel.

As others have pointed out before, it’s because for Paul to be used greatly, he had to be wounded deeply. The greater the calling, the greater the cost. Making a difference in the world means absorbing substantial pain. For the sake of God, and for the sake of the people you’re making a difference for.

That was true for Paul.
And it will be true for you, too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you’ve got flogging to look forward to. But I am saying that most of us want to do the kinds of things Paul did without having to go through the kinds of things Paul went through. And it doesn’t work like that.

God has to bruise you before He can use you. So you’ll be sensitive to His touch. So you won’t have an ounce of self-reliance in you. So you’ll be able to relate to the people you’re ministering to. So when everything is dark around you, your light within you will actually have a chance to shine.

If you really want to be used greatly by God, accept this now:
You’re going to be tired.
You’re going to be betrayed.
You’re going to suffer.

Like Paul, your great calling will exact a great cost. You’ll be able to say, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

But also like Paul, that won’t be the final word for you. You’ll be able to say, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. The church has been listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in America. 

Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the ChatterboxGreater, and Sun Stand Still.

Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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Steve Shepherd

commented on Jul 8, 2011

Very interesting and true.

Jimmy Jackson

commented on Jul 8, 2011

Thank you for the reminder!

Hal Seed

commented on Jul 8, 2011

REALLY good word Steven! Thanks.

Lisa Donald

commented on Jul 8, 2011

Thanks for this! I needed to hear it.

Sterling Franklin

commented on Jul 8, 2011

True stuff, niceness

Pastor Sung Kim

commented on Jul 8, 2011

If you don't get convicted after reading this, then I don't know what. Outstanding writing, Brother Steven.

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