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The Ministry of Patience

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By Ralph V. Reynolds

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“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).

Have you tried to help a rose bud unfold into a beautiful rose? You simply cannot wait for nature to take its course. So you unfold each petal one by one. What do you have when you are finished? A pitiful mess! The only thing you have succeeded in doing is destroying what would have been a gorgeous rose. If nature is allowed to take its own time the rose bud will effortlessly unfold into a beautiful bloom bringing pleasure to all who behold.

Have you ever tried to help a chicken out of a shell? Be careful and take your time for otherwise all you will have is a soggy dead chick in your hands.

There are many processes in this world that take time. Impatience will destroy and kill. Getting in a hurry only hinders rather than helps the desired end.

Of all the Christian graces, patience is one of the greatest. It is a quality that every Christian should possess but especially the minister of the gospel. A shepherd of God’s sheep must have great patience. Without patience the pastor and missionary will fight frustration and discouragement. Under the pressures of ministry an impatient man will not have the strength to continue. He will simply quit.

We live in a push button age. In our homes are microwaves and automatic appliances. We carry home from the supermarket instant puddings and ready-made cakes. Does this streamlined modern age give us more time to pray, study our Bibles and enjoy our families? On the contrary spare time is becoming more and more a precious commodity. Life is a constant rush. So much so, that if a person is not careful it can develop into a panic resulting in nervous breakdowns and heart attacks. In the business world the pressure of meeting deadlines and quotas can become almost unbearable.

The spirit of this fast jet age must never take over in the ministry of the Holy Ghost preacher. He must never be caught up in the spirit of restlessness, uneasiness and dissatisfaction.

Impatience is the quality that breeds this kind of spirit and must be fully eradicated.

This modern spirit of impatience influences Pentecostal altars. Hurry up! Get it over with! We must get down to the restaurant for some fellowship. Fifty years ago new converts spent hours seeking for the Holy Ghost. Seldom was the altar service dismissed before midnight. One preacher declared that this was wholly unnecessary. The Comforter has come and all one has to do is to believe and receive. This is true and this fact cannot be challenged. But how long does it take to repent? One person may repent in a few minutes. The next person may take days to pray through. In the early thirties I remember lying on my back at the altar for hours seeking for the glorious infilling of the Holy Ghost. We recognize that it does not have to take hours but let us not get in a hurry. A shallow experience may be the result.

Too frequently we settle for forced births. Many evangelists are anxious to count numbers. One evangelist who preached a crusade in a church where I was pastoring was guilty of this. In this particular crusade many strangers visited the services. Under the persuasion of the evangelist they came to the altar. In a few minutes the evangelist told them that they had received the Holy Spirit. I can still see the disappointed expression on their faces revealing the disillusionment they experienced. Some of these visitors we never saw again.

The work of God takes time. Let us never get in a hurry. One well known minister whom I respect greatly made this statement in a district convention: “I can go into any town and have at least fifty converts baptized within six months.” Although I respected this minister I recognized this as being an extravagant statement. In my own mind I said, “How I would like to take you to the states of Montana and Wyoming, and watch you do it. Please demonstrate for me.”

Many times impatience is the direct result of goals that are not realistic. Such unrealistic goals insist that we must have revival NOW. We must reap the harvest TODAY. Otherwise we are a failure.

Some preachers remind me of a farmer who ploughs the field today. The next day he harrows the ground. The third day he is in the field with the seed drill. The fourth day he wants to enter the field with the combine to reap the harvest. The farmer knows that this is impossible. They have more common sense than some modern preachers.

It is God who gives the harvest and it is God who gives a revival. The one who ploughs and sows must learn to wait upon God whether he is farmer or preacher. There needs be no question about results. If the ploughing and seeding are properly done the harvest is certain.

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6).

Patience produces perseverance. No matter what the results appear to be, the patient preacher never gives up. There is no place to quit in the work of God. If one is in the will of God the harvest is sure.

I have taught Pioneer Evangelism upon many occasions in Bible Colleges. In my classes I have told the students that it takes five years to raise up a church congregation. Sometimes it is accomplished in five months. However, examine it closely. Generally when this happens there are a number of tentmakers accompanying the pioneer evangelist. Certainly if a small congregation moves into a town with him the results will be different. Also, some preacher may have already been there ploughing and sowing the seed. In this case the evangelist moves into town and reaps the harvest.

I have been involved in Pioneer Evangelism since the fall of 1936 and do not consider myself a novice. In Jamaica during the first term the number of churches grew from eight to twenty-three. During six years in the Northwestern District while I was Superintendent there were twenty new churches opened.

I have witnessed pioneer evangelists raising up two or three congregations and losing them one by one before there is the joy of seeing a strong assembly established. A farmer may rejoice as he looks upon acres of wheat waving in the breeze. Then he is heartbroken as he watches the crop destroyed with a plague of grasshoppers. Next year it may be the frost and the next year a drought. The farmer may witness two or three crop failures before he reaps the harvest for which he has been laboring. Why is he able to reap? It is because of patience.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).

Wrong goals will cause a Christian, minister or saint, to become impatient and frustrated. The desire for crowds, applause, and recognition can be wholly destructive to a person’s faith. Once a young pastor wrote me a heart-breaking letter expressing his discouragement. “I did so much want to be a success.”

It was a pitiful letter. So much so that I boarded a train and rode one full night and day to visit him. I did my best to try to encourage him.

What is success? Crowds, spectacular reports, recognition, numbers? Is it not being in the perfect will of God and being faithful? It should be remembered that God keeps a different set of records. We are only a success when we fulfill God’s divine purpose in our lives. To hear Him say, “Well done!” is what really matters. Certainly we can be just as successful preaching to a dozen souls as preaching to a congregation of several hundred.

Why is patience needed? It is because we are dealing with people. Every person is different, every church assembly is different, and every town and community is different. The response differs according to the congregation.

In a congregation the preacher may be aware that there are people present who do not like him. He may also know that there are some who rebel against his teaching. How does this influence him? Does he preach differently? Does he become impatient, harsh, arrogant or negative? Not if he knows the meaning of patience. Although he may be fighting frustration and discouragement he will never allow this to show over the pulpit. There he preaches God’s Word. He ministers to people, good and bad, spiritual and carnal. It is God’s Word that will accomplish the work of grace in each heart. The minister must rise above all pettiness and feelings that would distract from God’s Word.

The Bible has much to say about Patience: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 5:3-4).

“In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4).

The benefits of possessing patience are many. In one of his sermons John Wesley had this to say regarding patience: “One immediate fruit of patience is peace: a sweet tranquility of mind; a serenity of spirit, which can never be found unless where patience reigns. And this peace often rises into joy. Even in the midst of various temptations, those that are enabled ‘in patience to possess their souls’, can witness, not only quietness of spirit, but triumph and exultation.” (Sermons on Several Occasions by John Wesley, 1855.)

Much patience is needed in making disciples of new converts. Sometimes the learning process is slow. Being told a truth just one time generally is not enough. It takes time to train, teach and disciple in the development of spiritual saints.

It is inspiring to examine the patient training of an athlete or a musician. In 1934 while attending summer school in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, I boarded in a home next door to a musician. This young man was a gold medalist pianist. Day after day he practiced on the piano from morning to night. As I listened to him I could readily understand why he was able to win gold medals and rewards.

While teaching mathematics at King’s College in Vancouver a young man attended my classes. He had previously failed two times in Mathematics 91. He needed his Upper School Algebra in order to continue his college education. It was not just the regular classes I spent with him. We spent several hours in extra instruction after school and at noon hours. What satisfaction I had when I heard that he had passed the departmental examination in Mathematics 91.

Nevertheless there are preachers who show little patience with young converts. It is enough to tell them once! However, it is not enough! Over and over again they must be instructed and exhorted. Through patient perseverance the shepherd will eventually see the Christian blossom and develop like a beautiful rose.

What a shameful disgrace to see a mother scream at a little one who spills some milk! Slapping and swatting the baby accomplishes nothing except to reveal the mother’s nasty temper. The ultimate result will be that the child will grow up to be impatient and to have a nasty disposition. The patient loving parent will see her offspring grow up to be a beautiful Christian.

The same principle holds true in the church.

If the pastor is nasty and impatient with the sheep, if he scolds and speaks harshly, the sheep will either scatter, or they in turn will develop into unhappy people who fuss and fight. By faithfully ministering with love and patience it is possible to see the new converts become part of a strong, healthy, contented flock.

 

The above article “The Ministry of Patience” is written by Ralph V. Reynolds. This article was excerpted from chapter nineteen in Reynolds’s book If The Sheep Could Speak.

 

The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.

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Instruments of Worth

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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.

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