SERVANT OR MASTER
By James L. Kilgore
“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:22-30)
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:1-3).
“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12).
There are times when the organization plays the role of the servant. At times the organization plays the role of part servant, part master. Then at other times it assumes the role of master. However, we must never look upon the organization as our master lest the very thing designed to promote the work of God becomes a great hindrance in the hearts of many people.
Machinery is a wonderful thing, jut it takes more than just putting it together to get it in motion. A great German general said that there were four reasons why the German nation lost World War II: (1) lack of air power; (2) lack of oil; (3) broken communications; and (4) failure at the source of supply. They had the machinery, but they did not have the oil to run the machinery. They had the organization, but there were broken communications. And they experienced failure at the source of supply.
As an organization we need the air power of prayer, the oil of the Holy Ghost, and good communication with one another. There will never be a failure at the source of supply as long as we strive to please God.
The image we project to our people and the world as a whole is very important. Unless the Pentecostal church has a reason to exist, it has no right to exist. The major reasons for the existence of the United Pentecostal Church can be summed up in the following four goals:
1. To carry out the Great Commission. This is our commission as well as it was to the disciples and apostles. This is our mandate from the Master Himself.
2. To edify the body of believers.
3. To foster the work of the ministry.
4. To be guardians of our priceless heritage.
Our bylaws and Articles of Faith are an outgrowth of these four reasons for the organization being formed as we know it today.
I shudder to think of where we would be today if we did not have a rich heritage. Our people know there are certain standards and that they must measure up to them. We have been able to look to the United Pentecostal Church organization and its good, strong, capable leadership. This has been a source of strength for us when new issues would arise. When the Latter Rain came in, there were no bylaws to avoid that movement. There were no mandates from the organization. There were no iron-clad rules.
The one thing that saved us in that hour was a message and a messenger at the time we needed it. We were able to rally around the message brought to us by capable, able leadership. During the middle of the Latter Rain controversy, Brother S. G. Norris preached a sermon at the St. Louis convention in Kiel Auditorium that helped unify and stabilize us. We were able to rally behind good, strong, clean, authoritative leadership.
We are living with a generation now that does not appreciate its history. The history of this country means nothing to many people. They have tried to demolish and destroy it because they were reared in a tradition and form and concept in which they could not look up to their leaders. This generation has been deceived in four dimensions : (1) government, (2) politics, (3) religion, and (4) the home. That is why we are seeing the revolt that is present in our land today.
Our Pentecostal young people do not resent the history of the United Pentecostal Church. They love and appreciate it. Many denominational churches are trying to incorporate Pentecostalism into their churches to save them from wreckage. They call themselves Pentecostal Catholics, Pentecostal Methodists, etc. They are having young people by the hundreds to come in, but these young people often wear shorts, sit on the floor, and meditate about life. They get an experience, but church to them is an informal event. They receive no teaching or training, yet they call themselves Pentecostals.
Why are churches going in the direction of Pentecostalism? Because they have been able to look at the Pentecostals and see our tremendous growth. Our young people have served as a good example. The rich history of the United Pentecostal Church is meaningful to them. They have been able to get their feet on solid biblical ground. They have been satisfied; they have found in Jesus Christ what they wanted and
needed in life.
The United Pentecostal Church has contact with both the Bible and the time in which we live. We have come a long way. By trial and error, by rebuff, by setbacks, by rebuke, by correction, by love and concern, by weeding out, by tearing down, by building up, we are where we are today.
The United Pentecostal Church is desperately trying to meet the needs of our people. We are assuming the role of servant. If our people could walk through headquarters, look at every department, listen to the typewriters, watch the activity, see the open doors, see the workers, they would fully realize our efforts.
It is a healthy sign when we are more interested in building a church a day than fussing about losing members. Churches are willing to see families move to new areas to help start churches or to help a preacher. That is a step in the right direction. It is a healthy sign when our churches are outgrowing all their facilities and having to rebuild or sponsor a mission church somewhere else. It is a healthy sign when churches are inspired by programs that are produced by a good organization, which gives our people a restless urge like the New Testament church must have had. Those programs instill a burden in the hearts of our preachers and our people, pushing them to excel and do great things for God. It is a healthy sign when men have confidence in a system that provides tools to help us do the job quicker and better than we have ever done. It is a healthy sign when we see a great building erected as our international headquarters.
Now, our alternatives should be examined. Our people are desiring the United Pentecostal Church to go full speed ahead with more action. We should strive for the feeling that this is my organization, and I am a part of it. This will help our image.
It would be good to have an open-door policy toward those with whom we have differences. There was a time when Abraham and Lot realized that their differences could not be settled by staying together, so Abraham said to Lot that they were still brothers, that whatever area Lot wanted he could take it, and that he would take the other area. They did not draw a line between them and start firing at one another. We can operate as a good, clean organization and live and act in such a way that anyone could feel free to discuss his differences with us. We should be accessible, available, and willing to listen.
All of our preachers must feel that they are in fellowship at all times. Some who are carrying cards may get the feeling that they are out of fellowship since they are never called on for anything. Or there may be personal feelings, personality conflicts, and other problems. But as long as a man carries a United Pentecostal Church fellowship card, he should be just as much in fellowship as the next man. Our ministers are looking for fairness and justice.
As men who are at the head of our organization, we should be careful that we are not looked upon as rulers instead of leaders. We should try to keep ourselves in the background as much as possible and promote the work of God through others. This will also help our image.
God chose Israel as a nation for a fourfold purpose. God wanted them to be (1) a witness, (2) an illustration, (3) a channel, and (4) a repository. He wanted everyone to look at that nation and see the blessedness of serving Jehovah. He wanted them to be an illustration to all the nations around about them that serving God makes a difference. Through that nation would come the Messiah. They were to be that channel. And they were the repository that held intact and in trust the sacred truth that had been passed on to them. They took good care of it, preserved it, and passed it on.
We have the good Word of God today because the nation of Israel became a bank vault of God’s Word. Truths were deposited in the vault, and many devout people died so that those truths could be handed on to us intact. Our lives are enriched because of them. The United Pentecostal Church can be an illustration. We can be a channel. We can be a witness. And we need to be a repository to hold to truth with all of our hearts.
We need to recognize preachers for what they are, not for what we think they ought to be. We need to recognize special ministries. If a man has a special calling and a special gift in certain directions, we need to allow that man to use that gift, to be a blessing to promote the work of God. If he is blessed of the Lord to pray for the sick, God bless him! If he is blessed of the Lord to go into a church seething with troubles with a message from God that will help straighten it out, let that man be free to minister. We can recognize that he has a special ministry and a special calling. Our brethren want a fivefold ministry, and if we could recognize special ministries we would enjoy greater blessing. These brethren would be accepted for what they are as long as their lives are clean, their message straight, and they believe and love the doctrine.
We need to be an organization rich in literature. If God delays His coming, we should pass on a lot of good writing to our younger ministers and church members.
In conclusion, I have seen some districts who have used organization to serve their people. You can feel the unity, you can feel the revival, and you can see the growth. They cooperate with every program. They do not mind the offerings that are taken; they are just glad to be a part. I have also been in districts where I saw, heard, and felt that they were using the organization as a master. They were instilling a certain amount of fear in the hearts of ministers. There was little or no growth, coerced cooperation, and a spirit of unrest.
An organization works almost like a local church. The best thing to keep a smooth operation and to keep the machinery running is to have a Holy Ghost revival. If people enjoy the blessings of God when they come to church, they do not have time or the inclination to go away fussing. We should use the organization to serve our districts and our general body, and not use it as a master to instill fear.
I would like to paraphrase Matthew 23:12, using the United Pentecostal Church for “whosoever.” “If the United Pentecostal Church exalts itself, it shall be abased; but if the United Pentecostal Church will humble itself and assume the role of servant, it shall be exalted.”
Let us be careful to give glory where it really belongs. The great God we serve has brought us together in the United Pentecostal Church. Let us give Him the praise. Instead of worshiping our Pentecostal services and the way we worship, let us worship God.
(The above information was published by FORWARD, October/December 1993)
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