Out of the overflow | Jesus’ Creed
Out of the way, Mike Glenn
If you are on the staff of Brentwood Baptist Church, you are subject to several requirements and expectations. They are all written and delivered during your onboarding process. Most are what you would expect from any church staff position. For example, all of your relationships should reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Integrity should be the hallmark of all your dealings – personal and business.
However, there are two requirements that are not written down but are still expected. See, I have a habit of going up to someone on staff and asking two questions. First, where do you read in the scriptures and second, what does Jesus teach you?
Stammering to give an answer, you will be sent home. That’s right. I’ll send you home. Why? Frankly, if you are not ministering because of the overflow of what Jesus is doing in your own life, you are dangerous for the work of the church. Ministers do not explode. We never lose control and go crazy in our congregations. Pastors implode. That is, the pressure outside becomes greater than the pressure inside and the pastor collapses.
Inner collapse usually comes with some sort of rash decision that ends with the pastor’s firing. The pastor slowly loses control and begins to drink too much. They watch porn on a church computer. They have a bond that is easy to discover. When you hear the story, you almost think the pastor is trying to get fired.
They are. Somehow, they have to take the pressure off their lives.
Pastors don’t know how to ask for help. They don’t know how to tell their churches that they are sinking. And worst of all, they don’t do a good job of taking care of their mental, spiritual, and emotional selves. Most pastors do not have close friends who can listen to their real struggles and challenges. Even fewer have a pastor or counselor. Few, if any, take spiritual retreats or practice spiritual disciplines on a daily basis. Given these realities, no one should be surprised that pastors quickly exhaust all the spiritual resources at their disposal.
This is why I challenge our ministers about their scripture reading. I hope our ministers will read a lot of books. Hope they are lifelong learning. However, NOTHING replaces Scripture in the life of a believer.
The radical teaching of Christianity is that our rabbi is alive. Jesus promised that if we sit down and pay attention, he will teach us just as he taught the twelve. Jesus promised that his teachings would become sources of living water in us that will never run dry. Ministry, no matter how you define it, has to come out of the overflow of what Jesus is doing in your own life. Without this, a minister has nothing to give at the present moment. Too many ministers show up to their congregations dry.
That’s why I’m asking the questions. That’s why, if I were your friend, I would ask you the same questions. Where do you read in the scripture? What is Jesus teaching you?
Just to let you know that I am not demanding something that I am not demanding of myself, I am currently reading the book of Joshua. Here is what I learn: God was working before Joshua existed and He continued to work long after Joshua left. Joshua didn’t start the job and he didn’t finish the job. Likewise, God was working at the Brentwood Baptist Church before I got here. I pray that he will continue to work in this congregation long after I have left.
Like Joshua, I’m somewhere in the middle, and like Joshua, my calling is to make sure that this middle moment is what God has done in the past and what He will do in the future. As retirement approaches, this has been an important concept for me to ponder and consider.
So what about you? What do you read in the bible? What is Jesus teaching you?
Don’t you read the Bible? You don’t pray? So stop what you are doing. Find a quiet place and open your Bible. Read. Pray. Stay there long enough to learn something from Jesus.
Don’t try to do any kind of ministry before you do this. Otherwise, you are worthless. The ministry is always coming out of the overflow.