The late Dr. Jerry Falwell penned many famous quotes and borrowed one from the Apostle Paul saying, "Not I, but Christ."
For all of us in ministry, as the stage gets wider, the lights brighter and crowd larger, it is a constant fight to realize the success is in the Message not the messenger. Even though we preach faith, we are still stuck in the flesh and must "die daily," like Paul said.
The cause of some of the tension between clergy, church staff and itinerant speakers is because from the outside it looks glamorous for us whom travel the globe with the gospel. We are constantly on the move in front of different groups and get to meet some really neat people that most in ministry don't have access while serving at the local church. It is not because one calling is superior, but this is how the Lord designed our call. As evangelists, just between venues, we can meet almost anyone and everyone. Sometimes we have the opportunity to connect with more folks in a week than some would in a year. We are not in competition, but rather to compliment others in their calling. Despite all the travel and distractions, we need to make sure that we are placing time with Jesus over everything else. One can have access to the President monthly, but if we are not alone with the Prince of Peace daily, we are powerless. Plus, our preaching must center around Christ. The Bible says, "To whom much is given much is required." More than ever, God is working on me to lift His Name up in sermons and one on one conversations. People don't need a personality, program or product, but the Person of Jesus. None of us have a prayer without Him! The Gospel is glorious but ministry is not glamorous.
Before we preach, we need to get alone with God and point totally to Christ in the message. Afterwards, we must invest in and love on His people. It has been said that a true shepherd will walk slow enough that the smell of sheep is on his clothing. After ministering, it is vital to try to get back alone with Him as soon as possible. Mark Batterson notes, "Whatever we don't praise turns into pride." The longer we refrain from staying close and clean while clinging to Christ, we are privy to take the praise or sulk in the sad story of performance. One wise mentor said, "If we don't take all the praise we don't have to take all the criticism." All glory goes to God!
20 years ago, my pastor's daughter married one of the band members of Jars of Clay. At the time, they were at the top of the charts. The Grammy winning band got their name from the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 4:7, which reads, "But we have this treasure in ‘jars of clay’ to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." What a powerful verse! The greatness of God is not because of us, but deposited in us because of Him.
Over the years, I have been blessed to spend some time with them, preach at one of their concerts, get on the tour bus with them, be a guest in their home and even recorded a brief clip of my preaching in their studio for another praise band’s song that was eventually released on the radio. 2 Corinthians 4:7 is the mission statement and motto of the band’s ministry.
Most evangelists that I have been blessed to know are team players, but we must constantly try to dispel the false allegations that we are all arrogant, not for the local church and don't honor and compliment other clergy. The bigger the platform, the smaller our egos must be. It was aptly said that, "EGO is Edging God Out.” When we are living our daily lives, may we be so overwhelmed with Jesus that when others think of us they only remember Him. While I was in college, I remember was waiting outside in line to enter a chapel service. That morning, The sun was shining unusually bright and my friend asked me a question that impacted me greater than a thousand lectures in school, "Frank, I cannot see you because you are standing in the sun." Immediately, I thought how wonderful it is to live so close to and operate our lives while being in Christ that we disappear because of the beauty and radiance of the Son!
It is essential that we encourage those whom we have in contact (especially those in ministry). No ministry is big or small. Be the first to be a cheerleader for others, compliment them publicly and don't talk negative about others in private. We are in this together and ministers need ministering to as well. With 2000 clergy throwing in the towel every month, may it never be because of our callous comments. When we are hungry for God, we are no longer full of ourselves.
Friends and fellow evangelists, the next time we get complimented on a blog or in person may we be mindful we are something, but that Jesus is everything! It is a privilege to preach and be an ambassador of the Almighty. The anointing and power is in the Message not the messenger. The Apostle Paul and Dr. Falwell were right: Not I, but Christ.