Power Principles For Today's Pastor
Barry L. Davis
Many of today's church leaders are hungry for power. Of course, some are looking for power to manipulate and intimidate. But the vast majority are looking for the kind of power they see displayed by the Christian leaders in the book of Acts. They're looking for an energy surge of supernatural proportions. What they want is Holy Spirit power. A power that is not generated by themselves but is produced by a life that is reliant on the Holy Spirit working through them. And the great news for those of us who are not Pentecostals is this--you don't have to be a charis- matic to enjoy it. This power is freely available to all who seriously seek it.
The discerning leader knows that if he's not reliant on the Spirit, it is unlikely that the congregation he serves will be either. So he tries and tries to get a hold of this power but it always seems to escape him. Here are a few power principles that will help today's church leader to have a ministry that is true to his calling, faithful to God's Word, and satisfying to his soul.
Principle #1 ~ Be Devoted
Be devoted to the study of God's Word. Paul's instruction to Timothy and to all who will lead the church is to "correctly handle the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). In order to handle the word of truth correctly the leader needs to be intimately familiar with it. In studying the Word of God he should be open to new ideas and truths that the Holy Spirit is leading him to. He should be willing to break with tradition if the Bible breaks with tradition. He will be able to act upon the new knowledge he has gained. If a church leader is to move in the power of the Holy Spirit he will allow ample time for study of the words the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Bible.
Be devoted to prayer. Studying God's Word results in receiving divine communication from the Heavenly Father. The Christian leader needs to understand that God wants to hear his voice too. A two-way communication is necessary if we desire to receive everything God has to offer us. The church leader will rely heavily on the resource of prayer if he expects God to move in his life and the lives of the people he serves. The leader's prayers should focus on praise, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and petition. He should focus his prayers on himself, on other leaders of the church, and on individual members of the congregation.
Be devoted to a total surrender of the will to God. The leader needs to be willing to renew his mind (Rom. 12:1-2). This process of transformation is never completed in this life, but it needs to have a starting point if real benefit is to occur. The mind needs to be conditioned to think as God thinks. The leader learns God's will by making it his own.
Principle #2 ~ Be Dedicated
Be dedicated to loving God. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37, NIV). The best way to love God in these areas is to imitate Christ's example until His example becomes personal experience. The leader's emotions should be turned over to God. His love for God will be acted upon through his service to others. There needs to be a surrender of ego, which is centered on self, to a Christ-ego which is centered on the world that surrounds him. His love for God needs to surpass the love he has for his wife and children, though it is demonstrated by his love for his wife and children. His love for God will manifest itself in his love for his church, for the sinner, for the downtrodden, and for those he could not love if his mind were still centered on self.
Be dedicated to looking to God for encouragement, rebuke, and example. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2, NIV). As the Christian leader looks to God for answers, it forces him to look outside of himself to those who are in need of a Savior, a helping hand, or a reassuring smile from someone who cares. As he is nurtured by God, he is given the ability to nurture those around him. When he quits looking to God he begins to ignore those who are in need.
Be dedicated to longing for the presence of God. The leader in the church should always have the desire to know God more intimately. Like Paul, he will "want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10, NIV). The dedicated leader longs for God's companionship and comfort. He finds himself on a constant search for a deeper relationship with God, knowing all the while that the present relationship can always be more intimate than it is at any given moment.
Principle #3 ~ Be Determined
Be determined to preach and teach. The Christian leader first and foremost lives to spread the message about Jesus Christ. There is a model given to him in the New Testament to preach and teach of the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through this ministry he will make Christ real to the people he serves. By building his messages and lessons directly from God's Word he is assured that what he feeds the people of God is Spirit-led. When the Christian leader's message is Christ-centered, conviction will come. When conviction comes, the new birth follows, which gives the leader an opportunity to teach those newly born how they might also preach and teach Christ.
Be determined to see the church grow. From the many examples in the book of Acts, it is obvious that a church that is Spirit-led and empowered will grow numerically. The church leader will be concerned about numbers because God is concerned with numbers. God was at work in the churches described in Acts and recorded the results of that work for all to see. The Christian leader will understand that every number represents a human soul. His concern for numbers translates into a concern for individuals. The church leader will also be determined that the flock grows spiritually. Christ's commission included a call to disciple those who are won. The neglect of spiritual growth in the church is a call to immaturity. The power of the Holy Spirit working through a congregation is dependent upon that congregation's reliance on Him. The new convert, as well as the seasoned believer, will be taught in the ways of God if he is to become an enabler of others.
The church will move forward into the twenty-first century by men who are reliant on the power of the Holy Spirit. That power is available to those who follow the biblical principles necessary to obtain it.