Pastors and the Providence of God

smallGodissovereignProvidence is God’s guidance and protection in our lives. Pastor, I know we teach about His providence to God’s people regularly. We counsel people with a deep belief and conviction about God’s guidance and protection through life. Yet, when it comes to our own lives and ministries, do we believe it with the same level of conviction and operate our lives accordingly?

A great lesson I have learned about God’s providence

I have often struggled with understanding many things in my own life and ministry. I have wondered why certain doors have closed when I thought their opening would be the will of God. Conversely, I have often been overwhelmed with God’s gracious blessing of opening doors for me that I know I do not deserve. After all these years it is still hard to write them in confession to you: but I understand that God knows what is best for me, even when I do not know what is best for myself. Yes, He protects me from things I may want or believe, when in reality, they are not best for me.

Trusting God’s sovereign will

The Lord is always working around us. He desires to work through us. People, places, provisions, and experiences are all under His guidance and care. When He desires to intersect them into your life, you will see His sovereign will fulfilled. Therefore, by faith we must be about trusting God’s sovereign will. We want to join Him in all He is doing. As He invites us to join Him, trust Him. He is worthy to be trusted.

Therefore pastor friend, how do we trust the providence of God in ministry?

1: Trust in His providence even when things are not going well.

Ministry is not an easy calling or job. Most pastors I know are under the scrutiny of people continually. They are weary from constant criticism and cutting cynicism. Many wonder if their future is in jeopardy. Often times, they live on the edge from one month to the next, hoping and praying for revival or deliverance!

Pastor, God has not forgotten you. He is with you. He wants to teach you.

I will never forget one of the most challenging times I ever faced in ministry. Through that experience God showed me that He had me in that particular place in life to teach me. He had me there more for me than for the church! This overwhelmed me with conviction from the Spirit of God. I learned through that experience, and many times since, that He guides, protects, and provides even when things are not going well. Trust in God’s sovereign will for your life.

2: Trust in His providence even when you do not want to.

So many times in life, we want to take our life and ministry in our own hands. We want to manipulate the circumstances or spin our own reality. If we want to be honest with one another, there are times when we struggle with anger about what we are experiencing and even with where we may be serving. In the ministry, jealousy can even override our judgment at times because others are receiving recognition that we believe we are more worthy of receiving. In reality, all may line up on our sheet of unfairness.

Yet, we must trust in God’s sovereign will. At times, trusting Him and His will may be far more difficult than trying to take matters into our own hands. Trusting God in ministry involves surrendering our entire life and future to Him! We have to take our hands off of our own future, leaving all of our future in His hands. Pastor, trust in God’s sovereign will for your life.

3: Trust in His providence for your future

Pastor friend, trust in God’s providence for your future in life and ministry. He knows what is best for you even when you do not know what is best for your life. He is more involved with you personally than you even realize. He is moving in the world of today in order to prepare you for the world of tomorrow.

I believe God has big plans for your life and future. No, you may not see it right now, but He is preparing you for them. Do not try to dumb-down God into your perspective of the world. He sees the end from the beginning. He knows every gift in your life that He Himself gifted you with. At the right time, He will raise you up and trust you with your future. Pastor, practice what you teach and preach.

It all begins with you:

            *Being available to God without placing any restrictions on your life

            *Surrendering yourself and all you are to Him, holding nothing back

            *Trusting in God’s sovereign, providential will for your life and ministry

Trust God’s providential guidance and care for your life and ministry,

Ronnie W. Floyd

Americans seek a listening ear

listenWhere do you turn when you are under pressure? Friends? Family? Pastor? Counselor?

At times every one of us is under pressure and needs help. Very few people attempt to make it through life without help and with good reason! God did not call us to be “Lone Ranger” Christians. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.

Where do Americans turn when under pressure? In a recent survey from LifeWay Research and Bible Studies for Life more than 1,500 Americans were asked this question: “Where do you turn to when you feel pressured?” While more than one-third said “prayer” and nearly half indicated “within myself,” only one of the eight options gained a majority (52%): “someone who will listen”. “Someone who will listen” rated even higher than “someone who will give advice” (32%).

The benefits of listening over talking

Some people surmise that the benefits of counseling are less about the words of the counselor and more about the fact he or she simply listens to the counselee talk it out. It is no accident that listening is one of the strongest elements of small group Bible studies.

Anytime believers gather to study God’s Word, whether a Sunday morning or weeknight, they should intentionally include an element of sharing outside the prayer request time. It is very hard to effectively minister to each other when no one really knows the needs. Learning about the needs comes from listening.

As we seek to involve those outside the family of faith, we do well to remember people are looking for listeners rather than talkers. This will be clear as we consider the instruction to “be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). Our tendency is to speak so we can fix the problem. But, the need is to listen so we can better understand the problem.

Listening to those under pressure accomplishes three things:

1. It provides clarity for us. Bad counsel derives from misunderstanding the problem. Intent listening helps us discern the exact issue or issues.

2. It demonstrates true concern. When we talk we demonstrate concern about what we say. When we listen we demonstrate concern about what is being said. It is only then effective counsel might be offered.

3. It strengthens the relationship. All beneficial relationships depend on good communication. As we listen to those in need, relationships are strengthened. In the case of those who do not know Christ, listening can open the door to an effective sharing of the Gospel.

As we go throughout this week let us seek to be listeners to those in need. And, when the time comes, we will also be heard.

Yours for the Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd