Summary: Mature believers respect the ministers and their ministries even as they themselves fulfill their roles in the salvation effort.
A Mature View of Ministry in the Church
Rev. Sean Lester
March 5, 2009
For the Seniors’ Chapel at Grass Lake, Michigan
Text: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
Key verse: 1Co 3:8. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
I. Respect for the ministries and ministers.
II. Respect for the discipline of the ministry.
III. Respect for minister God created me to be.
Introduction: Paul called out the Corinthians because of their infantile attitudes toward ministers in the church. What made them infants?
a. They were thinking as children. Well, more like feeling as children. Milk is easy to ingest and easy to digest. Solid food requires work. The Corinthians, like many in the church today, were seeking out people who interpreted the Word for them and them giving them their spiritual loyalty.
b. They were reacting to others as children. Jealousy led to quarreling over who was the more godly leader. Jealousy is the manifestation of fearing that someone else is going to get something you want for yourself. These people were under the impression that the smarter Christian, or the most popular Christian, or the most eloquent Christian must be closer to God.
c. They failed to see that no minister is at the top. Christ is at the top.
d. Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has. ~Elizabeth O’Connor
e. Jealousy quotations:
f. He that is not jealous is not in love. ~St. Augustine
g. Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. ~Harold Coffin
h. Jealousy and love are sisters. ~Russian Proverb
Proposition: Believers mature to the point where they develop a deep respect for the ministry that leads people to salvation through faith in Christ.
Interrogative: How does a believer arrive at maturity.
Transition: Respect characterizes a mature believer.
I. A mature believer respects the ministers and the ministries that play a role in making, sanctifying, and sending disciples.
a. Paul admitted that he wasn’t an eloquent speaker. In fact, we find the first recorded instance of a man falling asleep in church came as a result of Paul’s preaching. He was a teacher. Apollos was well known as a speaker. Teachers like Paul tell you what you need to know. Inspirational speakers like Apollos will make you want to do something about what you know. Paul gained a following because he was smart. Apollos gained a following because he was dynamic. Yet, both played a necessary part, and only a part, of a greater effort of making disciples of all nations.
b. There are essentially three kinds of speakers: Teachers give you the knowledge you need to understand your world. Inspirational speakers use what you already know and use it to prove to you that something about your world will be better because of it. Motivational speakers show you the good that will happen if you will act to make your world better. The church needs all three kinds of speakers. As a pastor, I am an inspirational speaker. The Sunday School teachers impart knowledge. The elders and other leaders in the church motivate the members to act. Each plays a role and none is more important than the others.
Transition: Respect for other ministers is the product of respecting the discipline of the ministry.
II. A mature believer respects the discipline of ministry.
a. Paul said that ministry is similar to constructing a building. As he put it, “I laid a foundation as an expert builder.” He ministered the way a contractor builds a building; use quality material and talent.
b. As self serving as this sounds, pastor get burdened with responsibilities that are unrealistic. Counseling, public speaking, teaching, counseling, and money management are separate disciplines that people go to a pastor to receive. It does explain why many pastors burn out, bail out, and fail out of the ministry. I believe that a pastor who expects himself to do all these things shows little respect for them as disciplines and deprives his congregation of the ability to be ministered to in an expert way. God gives people to the church with the talent and passion for these ministries and they should be empowered and respected for doing so.
c. There was a time when Barbara and I needed counseling help. We received quality counseling from an expert pastoral counselor. Yet, the counselor was not a pastor. She was a pastoral counselor. That isn’t to say that some pastors aren’t good counselors. I’m saying that there are many roles people play in a congregation and each role is a discipline that needs to be learned, practiced, and respected.