By T.B. Neil
God’s business is a soul-saving business. We are building a house. The house that we are building, is people. When we are praying, we are tools being maintained for the purpose of the building project.
EMPHASIS ON TOOLS
Tools are instruments that are used for a project. When you go to a building site, you don’t know what tool you are going to use first. There is a box of tools; you don’t always tell everyone what tools are there, but you make sure all the tools are there. They need to be ready to perform (maintained). You can’t be maintained on the site. If they aren’t maintained by the time they get to the site, they aren’t going to perform and they are going to cause a costly setback. Any tool that is not PROVEN shouldn’t be brought to the job site. Other tools can’t function because one of the tools isn’t working properly.
You match the tool with the need. Whatever the needs are, determines the tool that you need. There is no need for competition. It doesn’t matter who was chosen first. They will all have time for use and you can’t use them all at the same time. We are all subject to the same maintenance because we can’t afford to fail on the job site. We all, as tools, have ABILITIES to perform. The ability comes with AVAILABILITY and USABILITY.
Tools need to be usable when they are needed. They need to be ready to go at the TIME that they are needed. You can’t say “I’m not ready”. When the apostles worked for Jesus for three and a half years, they were being prepared, sharpened and maintained. He was preparing them for the job site. You don’t teach and train on the battlefield. You have to have the credentials before you get to the job site. We come to the job PREPARED, and ready to be used. If you are a drill, you need to have the batteries, if you are a sharp tool, you need to be sharp. The tools in the box need to stay in the box. There is no hustling and bustling for position. In the Bible, they name all the tools in the box, but you can’t find where all of them were used. (I.E. Nathaniel; you can find him in the Bible but you can’t find exactly where he was used. However, it says that they “all stood together”).
It’s not the job of the instruments to tell the user how to use them. On the day of Pentecost, Peter was chosen to be used and the rest of them were chosen to be supportive. They all stood together! You may not be used right now, but you are available to be used, if necessary. Don’t put your wishful thinking onto the job site. All of the tools may not be used, but they all need to be functional in case they are needed, if called upon. If we understand this, there is no competition, there is just compliments for accomplishments. Why didn’t you choose a saw yet? I don’t NEED a saw. You aren’t wasting time. You are charged and ready to go when you are needed.
We have made idols out of the Apostles. We have Pentecostal Catechism. We try to make gods and angels out of the Apostles. They are tools, not a god. Just like in the Old Testament, they tried to make gods out of Elijah. We can’t ask God to send more Peter’s and Paul’s etc. They are dead! He allowed Moses to die alone because He didn’t want them to worship Moses. Every tool will be buried, but their PURPOSE and their MINISTRY won’t be buried.
The purposes of instruments are indispensable, but the instruments themselves are replaceable. Every one of the Apostles were replaceable. I don’t need to know Peter, James and John, because they aren’t God, but we need to know their function and ministry. Don’t pray for the anointing of Peter, PRAY FOR THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST. I’ve never heard an instrument talk back to the one who handled it. It is the user of the instrument that determines the usefulness of the instrument. It isn’t the instrument that chooses the user, it’s the user that chooses the instrument.
Let’s stop making gods of the Apostles. People are suggesting today that we have less power than the Apostles. That’s a lie! They had no more power and authority than we do today. By one Spirit and by one Power are we energized. The same Holy Ghost in Canada, is in Africa. The same Holy Ghost in the 1st century is the same as NOW. The instruments of the 1st century are no longer here.
I’ve never heard anyone say this of a building project: “What a beautiful hammer” or “what a beautiful oven”. They don’t talk about the oven (the instrument); they compliment the product of the instrument (birthday cake). The tool doesn’t get attention from its job (hammer in a house), but it gets attention if it DOESN’T work; if it fails to perform, or if it’s being maintained. No one should get mad because they are not getting slapped on the back for what they have done. They are doing what they are designed to do.
Preparation, diagnostic test and proving they are ready, needs to be done before they are placed on the job site. When I pick up that electric saw, it had better work! The engine better turn over in your car. The one STEERING the car gets the credit, not the car. The car doesn’t do anything until someone comes and picks it up, and starts driving.
In this generation, we may not think we’re important. We are in Fort McMurray and there are needs. This is Saturday and we are filling up the tank. You can’t pour out if you don’t pour into. The blind should not lead the seeing. We have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. When people are here tomorrow with needs, we shouldn’t come tomorrow and expect to get our needs met. We need to meet their needs. There is the pulpit ministry and there is a pew ministry. The pulpit proclaims and the pews mediate. Every one of the saints should come as a tool and be ready to be used as saints of God.
Women’s problems were brought forward to Philip. He was chosen because he had what was required to deal with the situation. They were asking “do you know doctrine, do you know how to deal with spirits?”, etc. They weren’t worried if he was ready. He knew all of it already. It’s too late to learn at that point. He wanted to send him out now.
Keys on a piano are the tool but they won’t play without someone playing it. It won’t perform until someone touches it.
God can use anyone He wants, provided they are the person who studies and is approved.
Watching a situation; a baby watches everyone. She doesn’t miss anything. We are watching Jesus. God may say “go two- by-two and do what you saw me do” and then God is going to watch us do it and see how much we retain. It takes tools to make tools. The term “journeyman’ came from the Masonic lodge. They build their system of government around it. Journeyman means you have finished the apprenticeship. Before the tools went on sale, they were checked.
China is full of substandard tools that are just put together and sold to you. Those that are tested and tried come with warranty. You know they won’t fail when you use them, if they have warranty.
Apostles; Jesus spent 40 days with them and wouldn’t leave them. He was doing a final checkup. He was rebuking them. Every instrument has to go through correction, reproof, instruction…
There are tools that break as soon as you use them. You hit a hammer and it breaks!
What do you do when you’re praying, studying, in your private time?
You never see a tool that wants to be worked on as a tool, you only see it when it’s finished. The tool is based on the potential it has. It is a terrible thing to buy it and it doesn’t perform. When you go to the job site, you may not be able to come back. If you are on a plane, those instruments better work. Only maintenance can ensure that. You learn, God uses you, you are maintained, you learn, etc. You are used when you are needed and when you are finished, you wait until you are required again. Some tools are used seasonally. Some ministries are seasonal. How much you get used doesn’t determine the worth of the instrument.
The day of the show home, all the tools are hidden from site. The architect gets the praise and he didn’t build it, the tools did! Lots of men fail because they figure they didn’t get recognition. They didn’t realize they were just a tool. The Bible says that Moses built the tabernacle, but he didn’t put in a nail or a stitch. God puts in the Bible who did it, but Moses gets all the praise.
Aaron was the one who talked to Pharaoh, and Moses got the credit. Jesus didn’t baptize anyone and John baptized a lot. The Bible says Jesus baptized more disciples than John (his disciples were the one who baptized them all).
If you go to the mission field and you are helping them and you baptize 1,000 people, even if the missionary wasn’t there, he gets all the credit from UPCI. What would happen if all the tools in the box started fighting for the glory over the built house? (Hammer – “I did the walls”, Saw – “I cut all the material”, Backhoe – “I dug the basement”….etc).
When we come to the Lord, we need to make sure that in our private time we are maintaining ourselves through studying, as God is watching us. David was not a hero when he fought the giant. He was already a hero in the backside of the desert when he killed the lions and God saw him. God just brought him to the forefront so it was more obvious.
What will the saints do tomorrow? Why don’t we have enough pastors, evangelists? Because the saints come to church to be ministered to. Saints are helped in Bible study so they can minister on Sunday. They are gassed up on prayer on Saturday. Calling a person to do a job means they are already being maintained, they are ready for use. What comes first – the calling (to Moses), or being prepared? God only calls prepared people ready to go. Some people say “I’ll wait until I’m called and then I’ll go study”. Too late, we don’t need you. Paul was already studying with a mentor before God called him. Peter was already fishing when Jesus called him to be fishers of men. Some people say “God didn’t call me”. That’s because the situation doesn’t need you yet or you haven’t been proven.
There are many astronauts ready to go to space even though they aren’t needed. The same with the army reserves. For the US President – they have three people ready to go and they are all competent to do the job. It should be the same in the church. We should be all the same in the church. God should be able to pick anyone.
Study, read, be able to teach other men. It would be foolish to call someone who isn’t trained. If you do so, you would corrupt the system (getting an untrained person to do computer work). It is easier to corrupt something than it is to preserve or perfect it.
People don’t realize that the instrument that God uses have been proven. The Bible says don’t pick people suddenly to use them. I know in my job, when I travel from my office, I shouldn’t have to come back to the office to get a tool. God will not put you on the work-site if you’re not ready to go. The tool has to be reliable. The man’s tool is like a dog to his master. The tool has to be faithful; lives depend on it.
Don’t just suddenly grab a tool and run with it. It may sit there for five days and still be available. If it isn’t used for 6 months then it will need to be retrained to make sure that it’s still ready to go.
Before people are used, people need to be faithful with another man’s tools. Most people will not lend you their tools, and if they do, they’ll watch you to see how you use their tools. God is watching to see how you will do using His goods. If you get a company car, do you ride through the mud? How do you bring it back? God watched all of that. All the men God chose, He knew how they were. It has nothing to do with God’s favoritism.
Mentoring; while they were talking, the man says “we don’t have anyone coming up behind”. There are lots of churches that are unbalanced (they aren’t teaching anyone else). The leader says they do this because “not every pastor is a father and not every father/mentor is a pastor. And believe it or not, some sons are bastards by choice. When you correct them they walk away and get mad. A tool can become corrupt and give you a false reading. A tool can turn around and hurt the one that is using it and cause problems. Those metaphors are true today. People must have a father. You can’t talk about people in the Bible without their trainer. You can’t talk about Joshua without Moses. You can’t talk about Samuel without Eli (even though Eli wasn’t a great man). Some people who are ambitious will survive. There are certain pastors who don’t care what you do.
Instruments cannot design themselves. It’s all about image. The instrument is in the image of the mind of the one that created it. Without John, Jesus had no validation.
Every instrument has accountability and a time when the user takes it home and maintains it. Everyone needs an education in their life so they don’t become stale. It takes one instrument to perfect another.
The above article, “Instruments of Worth” is written by T.B. Neil. The article was excerpted from pages 29-36 of Neil’s book Sculpting Leaders for Future Ministry.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.