MINISTRY’S NO. 1 ENEMY: DEFEAT
BY LARRY LINKOUS
Every pastor fights the battle of an unprincipled lifestyle. Here’s how to win.
Scores of ministers forsake their callings and leave the ministry every year. They find secular employment and disappear into mainstream society because they are no longer able to withstand the internal and external pressures on their lives.
Many good people, called of God and needed desperately by the church and the world, grow weary and give up. Most haven’t been caught in moral disgrace or financial fraud. They have just burned out,’ being overcome by ministry’s No. 1 enemy, which trips up countless ministers of God.
This enemy attacks every relationship, every minister and every church. I have uncovered ministry’s uncovered ministry’s greatest
enemy–the unprincipled lifestyle A lack of godly principles produces an unprincipled lifestyle–a lifestyle with no boundaries for personal and public life These principles provide the protection and stability ministers and ministries must have to survive and be effective.
BOUNDARIES IN MINISTRY ARE ESSENTIAL
Everyone needs boundaries set by godly principles–even ministers! With out these boundaries ministers and ministries crumble
under the relentless pressure of life. It’s possible that you’re feeling that very pressure in your life and ministry right now. Well,
God has a promise that’s bigger than your probe fem. God’s call on your life is too valuable able, and you’re too precious to Him to live an unprincipled existence. Godly principles create a safe refuge for you. Out of this oasis you will minister with D anointing and live in victory.
I call these principles the planks that build the platform on which I live my life and overflow my ministry. The Word of God is a
gold mine full of these kingdom planks that provide a firm foundation for L each facet of our lives in good and bad times. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matt. 7:24-25, NKJV).
Notice Jesus isn’t inferring if the storm comes but when the storm comes. Storms will come to your life Rain falls on the just and
the unjust. Storms are not the question. What’s in question is the quality of the planks that form your foundation.
These planks are the principles you build upon, and they must be able to sustain the storms and the weight of ministry. Pastors fail, ministries collapse and families disintegrate because godly principles to guide them through the storms and trials have not been put in place or have not been followed.
RULES OF LIFE
Godly kingdom principles will:
Keep you from the need to crisis manage.
Build personal and ministry integrity.
Reduce tension and stress.
Help you guard your heart and your tongue.
Eliminate much anxiety in your personal and public life.
When you lay down the proper principles to build your life’s platform, you won’t have a crisis if someone speaks out of order in
your church, if you’re tempted to cheat on your income taxes or if you are talking to a beautiful woman other than your wife. These godly principles will guide your life and keep you from failure as you and others value and respect them.
If someone stands and speaks out of order or acts unruly in our church, there’s no dilemma about what to do. I don’t get nervous and flustered. We don’t huddle and try to reach an instant decision. Our course of action has already been decided. The plank is in the platform. The principle is in place. The godly principle moves into action, and the problem is handled. The only one with a crisis is the one out of order.
I have pastors come to me about crises in their churches. One pastor told me about a problem he had with a man who believed God would have him stand and read out of a book to the congregation every service right before this pastor preached.
I asked the pastor how he felt about this in his heart. He said it troubled him, but he didn’t know what to do about it. I said,
“Brother, if you don’t put some principles in place in your life and in your church, we won’t be talking about your church problems two years from now. You won’t have a church.”
People and churches cannot survive without godly principles. In this instance, as in most, if the principle is in place, the problem is solved. In my life and ministry I’ve had to define what was precious to me as a man, husband, father and pastor. I know what my principles are, what I can tolerate and where I cannot be violated. I also know that if I give these up and allow people to trample on them, or if I trample on them myself, I will be driven out of the ministry.
I’ve seen too many ministers allow themselves to be pushed into a box that suffocates them, their families, their anointing and their effectiveness–all because they lack these principles. They become miserable men with rebellious children and wives on the verge of a nervous breakdown because they don’t have these guiding principles to help them meet the demands of life.
These godly life principles in place in your life will keep religion from pushing you into a corner and suffocating you. Too many
pastors want to please others so much that they allow themselves to be pushed into a place where they cannot be themselves. They lose their freedom, their individuality, their joy. They become miserable and leave the ministry. This is not the will of God. But it happens when there’s an absence of life principles.
GODLY PRINCIPLES PROTECT YOU
Godly principles protect your:
Inner thought life.
Family and pastoral relationships.
Communication and speech.
Anointing for ministry.
Effectiveness to preach and live the gospel.
Recently I was teaching a class of leaders, and I made a derogatory comment about a couple who visited the previous Sunday.
There was an uncomfortable laughter; I blushed; and we went on. Later I asked the Lord why I reacted the way I did. The Lord showed me that I had bumped up against a life principle I had put into my platform. The comment I made to the class was not edifying. It lacked the integrity I have come to expect from my words and that others expect also.
Convicted by the Holy Spirit, I repented to the Lord. I couldn’t wait until the next week when I could address the class again. I
apologized and asked their forgiveness. I had violated my own principle.
Kingdom principles protect you from the inside out and outside in. People around you will respect your godly principles. They will
know how they should talk around you and how far to carry on with jesting, joking and fun. This does not make people uncomfortable. On the contrary, when principles are in place people become very comfortable. You become approachable because you know you’re living on principles that will bring respect and dignity to your ministry.
Principle No. 1: The quality of your life is dictated by the quality of your relationships. The quality of your life will never rise
above the quality of your relationships. Relationships are vital to your personal and public life. Jesus asserted: ” “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these”‘ (Mark 12:30-31).
Principle No. 2: All your relationships revolve around your personal relationship with God. Out of this fundamental relationship
will flow the wellspring of all the other vital elements of your life. I suggest that the first plank of this relationship deal with your personal, daily appointment with God. A daily appointment with God will revolutionize your life. Early morning is a very good time for this appointment. Give yourself at least half an hour before anything else in the day begins to grab your attention.
You will borrow from this experience for your sermons, but do not use this time for that purpose. Use this time to grow intimate with your Lord. Realize this: Birth issues from intimacy. Out of this new intimacy with Christ many new ministry dynamics will be born, and the Word of God will come alive to you in a new dimension of power and revelation. Out of this intimacy the vision for your personal ministry and your church’s ministry will be birthed. Out of this intimacy will issue new energy, hope, love, and ultimately this intimacy will birth true revival.
Birth issues from intimacy, but intimacy demands an investment of time. You don’t create it by waving at someone across the street or by chatting occasionally. Change your schedule; invest the time. It will change your life!
Your level of intimacy directly parallels your level of commitment. Absence of intimacy creates a shallow commitment. As you
get this first relationship worked out properly, you will enjoy a new commitment to your Lord, your ministry and the place you were called to serve.
Principle No. 3: Cultivate a healthy, godly perspective of yourself. When your personal relationship with God anchors your life,
begin to deal with the relationship you have with yourself. Jesus says to love Him first, then love your neighbor as yourself. If you do not have a healthy, godly view of yourself, you will not have a healthy, godly view of others. Your true regard and respect for others will never rise above the true regard and respect you have for yourself.
As you spend time with God in your daily appointment, you will find Him healing, forming and making you into a creation that even you can love. The wounds, abuses and rejections will heal, and through your healing you will heal others.
A pastor’s vocabulary from the pulpit reveals the relationship he has with God and with himself. Wounded people wound people. Abused people abuse people. Hurting people hurt people. Until we are healed inwardly, we have no right attempting to heal others. A healthy, godly respect and love for oneself will evidence itself in every personal relationship and will overflow out of the healing vocabulary of the pulpit.
Principle No. 4: Love people starting with your spouse and family. After intimacy with God and a healthy view of yourself comes
your love for others. The most significant others in your life are not your elders and deacons but your spouse and your family. How many times have we seen ministers reaching to win the world while losing their own families? It’s a very empty victory if we’re winning like crazy out there while losing like crazy at home.
A key principle in this plank of your life’s platform is to be sure that while you’re going to heaven, you bring some heaven to earth.
Heaven on earth begins at home. It’s impossible to export something that’s worthless at home. For the most part, you will be the key to the temperature in your home, and the thermostat of that temperature will be your relationships.
Remember: The quality of your life will never rise above the quality of your relationships. Your assignment is not to go to heaven.
Going to heaven is your destination. Bringing heaven to earth is your assignment. Heaven on earth begins at home.
Out of these three dimensions of relationships all others will flow: God, yourself, and your wife and family. This is the key
principle that will unlock the door to every other relationship you face during your day. Out of this settled peace and security will
spring the power to impact each life you touch in your ministry. Out of this powerful platform you will relate in peaceful, secure, godly ways to your secretary, staff, leaders, church, city and the world. Be certain that while you’re winning your world, you’re not losing your family.
Principle No. 5: Live to create vacancies in hell and bring heaven on earth. Some Christians think their life’s assignment is to go
to heaven. I believe in heaven, and when I die I intend to go there. But going to heaven isn’t my assignment; it’s my destination. My assignment is to bring all the heaven I can to earth.
A few years ago a pastor friend of mine asked me a question, and out of the answer I formed the basis for our church’s mission
statement. His question was, “Larry, what do you want people to say about you after you’re gone?”
The answer jumped out of me without any delay, and I’ve never changed it. “I want to live a life that creates vacancies in hell and
brings heaven to earth,” I replied.
Seeing people saved is the will of God This is a major plank in the platform of my life and ministry. This is a major life principle. We aren’t saved just so we can die and go to heaven. Heaven is full of people who have died and gone to heaven, too many of them before accomplishing God’s assignment for them.
I truly believe God desires to save us to become instruments in His hand to impact our communities, our society, our world. He truly wants His kingdom to come and His will to be done “on earth.” That’s our assignment. This is God’s master plan toward the culmination of the ages. Eden wasn’t built as a monastery but as a model of bringing heaven on earth.
Until Jesus calls us home, or until He comes to rapture His church away (see Mark 13:21-32), we must be busy about bringing His
kingdom principles to every area of our lives and into all the world.
WHAT ARE YOUR KINGDOM PRINCIPLES? Ask yourself:
1. Where am I in ministry today concerning these life-governing principles?
2. What is happening in my life and family–with my spouse, children, church and relationships–that could cause me to grow weary and faint?
3. What are the principles that are vital to my very existence as a spouse, parent, minister and family member?
You have principles. You may not have clearly defined them and tested them as planks in the platform of your life and ministry, but you have them, and they are critically valuable to you. You may have some principles in your life, possibly unspoken, that you have allowed people to violate too many times. These violations are the No. 1 enemy that will drive you out of the ministry.
As you live out godly principles, you will find new respect for yourself, and others will also. When you do this, pressure will
release; stress will lift; respect, dignity and esteem will return; and you will be in ministry for the duration of the race (see 2 Tim. 4:7).
Pastors can do more than just survive the ministry; they can truly bring some heaven to earth.
LARRY LINKOU5 pastors New Life Christian Fellowship in Titusuille, Florida, and hosts Thee Morning Drive, a popular radio show heard each weekday throughout Central Florida.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY MINISTRIES TODAY, SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER, 1998, PAGES 41-43.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.