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Musings for the Man of God

  1. Its never as bad as you feel on your worst day; its never as good as you feel on your best day.
  2. When the battle gets fierce, consider: you may have arrived at the front line. And, remember, no battle gets won from the lunch wagon.
  3. Take personal responsibility. If someone left trash in the pew, throw it away; if theres a bottle or tree limb in the driveway, move it; if a visitor looks lost, see what you can do.
  4. Pay attention to the needs of the church now. Dont wait until you have a position.
  5. Use church time to minister to those around you. Greet and help the visitor. Encourage the fearful. Get to know the shy and backward. Challenge those ready to go further. Stop treating Christianity like a spectator sport. Spend the first minutes after church is over speaking to visitors and reaching out to people you do not know very well; then, spend time with your friends.
  6. Recognize that most people are as insecure as you are. Do not allow your insecurity to hinder your work or your demeanor. Claim your confidence in the Lord.
  7. Dont overreact to every complaint, criticism, or conflict. Focus on the Lord and His work. Learn to tune out the background noise of carnal saints.
  8. Take personal criticism to the Lord. Learn from true criticism; leave the false criticism behind you.
  9. All men have feet of clay. As such, they have faults, inconsistencies and failures. When you think you have found the exception, recognize that you have just never seen him with his socks off. His feet are still made of clay.
  10. Sometimes the greatest work is done by those who spend two-thirds of their life in preparation. God trained Moses 80 years before he was ready to lead the Israelites for 40 years. Was two-thirds of his life wasted? Not at all. It enabled him to accomplish the great achievements for which he is still known.
  11. Know your strengths and weaknesses in ministry. Learn to compensate for your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths.
  12. If you refuse to take care of problem people and problem situations, you will lose good people. Bad currency always drives out the good.
  13. When a church or ministry takes several negative hits in a row, the people will tend to get discouraged. True leadership stands firm and stays the course. Eventually, the people will follow.
  14. Learn to see situations through the eyes of others. When counseling others, lead them from their standpoint. When training workers, see their problems through their eyes.
  15. God always starts with people where they are; not where they ought to be.
  16. Treat Gods business as seriously as you do your own. If you are well enough to go to work, you are well enough to go to church.
  17. Remember that the church as a whole is more important than any one person in itincluding the pastor.
  18. Never be satisfied with you level of service for God. Always be satisfied with God.
  19. Push yourself. If you do not have drive, develop it. Put yourself in positions that push and challenge you. Be active and diligent for the Lord.
  20. Determine in your heart to never stop growing in the things of the Lord and in your service to Him.
  21. You cannot lead people where you have not gone. If you want your people to continue to grow in the things of the Lord, then you must continue to grow spiritually.
  22. Always be on the outlook for someone to train for service. Look for men who are faithful, teachable, and who have a good spirit. These are the ones who will respond best to your training. The most talented men are often the least teachable.
  23. Develop a dogged determination to serve God no matter what. Otherwise, you will quit when the times get roughand they will get rough.
  24. Always seek to have at least two people in your life: one who is further down the road of life and ministry than you from whom you can learn and one who has not gone as far as you and whom you can encourage and teach. With time, you may have several men of both kinds.
  25. You can only lead people where they are ready to follow. Leadership is influencing others to move. Show me a leader with no followers, and Ill show you a man taking a walk.
  26. A ministry is not good because it is popular and it will not be popular simply because it is good.
  27. People are the earthly reason for all ministry because the souls of men and women are the only thing in this world that will exist eternally. It does not matter how many buildings you build or how many awards you receive. Ultimately, each ministry must be judged on the merit of its influence on eternal souls.
  28. Problem members (not those worthy of church discipline) are there to keep you seeking Gods face. If the ones you have leave, others will come to take their place.
  29. Try to accomplish at least one thing for Gods eternal good each and every day.
  30. Moses had his rebels. Nehemiah had his traitors. Jesus had His quitters. Dont expect that it will never happen to you.
  31. There are three promises every man of God needs to burn in his soul:

    Your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58).

    Gods word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

    You will reap if you dont faint (Galatians 6:9).

  32. Your family is your first congregation. Dont sacrifice your family for the sake of an important work of God.
  33. One day, through some failure or sin of your own, God will show you your utter inability and complete disqualification to be a man of God. From that day, you will know that whatever you do is the work of God in you. You will know that your life and ministry is not your own.
  34. Trusting God does not mean giving Him credit for the good days. It involves giving Him credit for the bad days and knowing that they are part of His plan just as much as the good days.
  35. Being a man of God requires an ability to do serious business with God. Until you have wrestled with the angel of the Lord, you cannot walk with the limp caused by the touch of God.
  36. Modern thinking expects results. Therefore, everything is geared to getting results. Yet, in the work of God, God gives the results: I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Our emphasis then should be on obedience to complete the work God has given us to do. The results are His business. Too much emphasis on results will pervert Gods way and biblical Christianity will give way to market-driven religion.
  37. Most pastors use Sunday morning attendance as the primary indication of the strength or weakness of the church. This is not wise. Attendance fluctuates for too many reasons. Various circumstances effect attendance on any given Sunday. Uncommitted people may come for a time and then leave. Some people who leave and temporarily bring down attendance may strengthen the church by their leaving. Here are three better ways to gauge the strength of the church.

    My father in the ministry, Pastor Luther Adkins, taught me to look at the income more than at the attendance. People give to that which they support. If attendance falls a bit but the income stays the same, the church is still solidly set to grow.

    A native missionary from India, G. R. Lorne, taught me the next principle. How many faithful men do you have in the church? God uses men. There are many godly ladies who bring much benefit to the church, but the church must have men. If the church can develop godly men, it is going to be a strong church.

    May own observations brought about the last test. Pastors tend to get excited, even giddy, about the times when the attendance is reaching new or seldom seen highs in attendance. However, these highs can be inflated in ways that do not indicate real growth. Most churches go through cycles of growth and plateaus (or decline and plateaus). True growth is seen in the plateaus and not in the peaks. When the church plateaus for a bit, compare this plateau with the last one. If it is higher, the church is growing. If it is lower, the church is in decline. Peaks can lie; plateaus give a truer picture.

  38. All other things being equal, a healthy church will grow. However, despite the heresy of the church growth movement, it is not the primary goal of the church to grow. Compare this to a child. All other things being what they should be, a healthy child will grow. But how foolish it would be to make growth the primary goal for the child. This faulty goal would lead to excessive feeding and excessive weight. As a result, the child would be sick and weak. These are some of the results today of churches who make growth their primary goal.
  39. God calls busy men to His service. Moses and David were minding their flocks when God called them. Elisha was plowing the field. Peter and John were making their livelihood by fishing. God does not normally call a lazy man. The work of the ministry is no refuge for the lazy man. The office of the bishop is a good work (1 Timothy 3:6).
  40. Spend time with your children. Take turns with them taking one at a time with you as you complete errands. Talk to them as real people with real thoughts, concerns, and desires. Use these times to lead your children in the right way. Fathers do not have the option of ignoring their children or leaving all the guidance to the motherat least, not in Gods eyes.
  41. Your wife should be your best friend. Put forth the effort to make this friendship happen and to keep it when it happens. Your wife may not understand the ministry. Unless, she is outwardly rebellious, teach her to see through the eyes of ministry. It does not matter if it takes many years. The effort will be worth it.
  42. Biblical love is not a feeling but an act of obedience. The husband is commanded to love his wife. A command is either obeyed or disobeyed. To say, I dont love her anymore, is to admit your rebellion to Gods commandments. Commit to loving your wife in obedience to God and the feelings will follow in Gods time. One ancient Chinese saying states that the men of China (when they had arranged marriages) got a wife and she became a friend while men of the West get a friend and she becomes a wife. Unfortunately, as she becomes a wife, the friendship is often lost. Do not let this happen to you.
  43. Make it a goal of your ministry to train young preachers. Some of the best training they will ever receive is by spending time with you while you are doing the work of the Lord. As often as possible, take a young man with you as you go to conferences, take care of a funeral, and so on. Use these times to learn their heart and to give simple instruction and encouragement in the things of God. As you send good men out to serve the Lord, He will in turn send you blessings from above.
  44. Get your church involved in some ministries that are unlikely to increase your church attendance or offerings. Ministries in places like jails, nursing homes, and the like remind us that we are here to serve; not to build a personal monument to our greatness.
  45. One good way to keep the right balance in the outreach ministry of the church is to compare that outreach to the commissions given first to Adam and then to Noah when he got off the ark. The common factors in both commissions are three commands: Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth. Spiritually, these show us three areas of outreach:

    Be fruitful. This is a picture of soul-winning. Each church needs to have ways to reach the people in their community.

    Multiply. This is not the same as being fruitful. Fruitfulness bears children. Multiplication replicates what is already there. Therefore, for a church to multiply, it needs to replicate itself. The failure of churches to establish other churches will result in the death of a movement. Churches that do not plant churches turn inward and seek continual growth. And, in the long run, they reach fewer people for Christ.

    Replenish the earth. This is a picture of world-wide missions. Every church should be a headquarters for world-wide missions. Do not divert mission money to a building program. You may be writing Ichabod over the front door.

  46. If two men who are both Bible-believers and who both start with the same basic truths about the Bible come up with two entirely different ideas on the interpretation of a verse or doctrine, it is likely that they both see a part of the truth. The full truth may be found when their two interpretations are woven together into a greater truth.
  47. Many Bible students take one extreme or another of a doctrinal stance because it is easier to defend one corner of the field than the middle. Those who take the middle position get attacked from all sides. But it is important to remember that most roads have a ditch on both sides. Your first objective should be to stay out of the ditch.
  48. Luther Adkins, my father in the ministry, told me that J. Frank Norris, the Baptist preacher known as the Texas tornado, said that there were three things each preacher should know: the English language, the English Bible, and history.
  49. It is impossible to please everyone. You know the temperature is right in the church building when you have the same number of people complaining about being hot as are complaining about being cold. Just dont expect to avoid any complaining at all.
  50. Read good books. We are returning to a generally illiterate society. But any depth of understanding comes only to those who read. Learn to read well and then read. Read history, doctrine, biography, and more. The authors of the books you read are your teachers and your reading keeps you in school. The good teacher (one who is apt to teach) must always remain the faithful student.
  51. Learn to recognize the signs of your own spiritual decline before anyone else does. Then return to God before you have wandered far away from Him. Know yourself well enough to know what the first indicators of spiritual coldness are for you. These become early warning signals. When a couple of these indicators pop up, know that you are straying away from God and determine to make things right before you go any further.
  52. Without saturating yourself in bushel baskets of news and current events (which can be discouraging and a great time-waster), keep up with the major events in the news. You will need to help people think biblically about these events on some occasions. There are also ways to begin with what is in the news and teach or preach important truth from that starting point. Gods men have no excuse for total ignorance of what is going on around them.
  53. Learn to think in terms of ministering to your wife. Help her become all that she is capable of being for the Lord. Encourage her and challenge her spiritual growth. Comfort her in times of special strain. If the devil cannot get you, he will go for your wife. If that does not work, he will do for your children. Keep their spiritual condition in mind at all times.
  54. Guard your purity and honor in relationships with other women. Never counsel another woman alone. Bring your wife along or insist that the counseled woman bring her husband or father (if young). You do not have to do anything wrong in order to be hurt or even ruined in ministry. It only takes a rumor that you cannot prove to be false.
  55. You dont really have anything worth living for until you have something worth dying for. You are not ready to live until you are ready to die.
  56. Never put full confidence in your knowledge of where the ministry should go or of your conformity to the perfect will of God. Always recognize that you could be wrong. However, never doubt Gods ability to lead through you if He has placed you in leadership or in His ability to show you the way to lead others. The key is to have confidence in God; not in yourself.
  57. When taking on an established ministry, consider the ministry that went on before you before you determine the number and rate of changes you make in that ministry.

    If the ministry was led by a well-loved and admired leader who left through death, sickness, or the taking of another ministry, make changes very slowly for some time. Learn what he did and why he did it that way. As much as possible, mimic his style for a time. Then, after you have established yourself as the leader, make your changesincremental at first; then, with time you can be bolder. This slow method may mean that you are not leading in every way as you would please for five to seven years, but it will win the people and make you the true leader. On the other hand, immediate and major changes will be seen as a direct attack on the previous leader. Many churches go through two or three short ministries after a long one simply because the young men could not wait to make their pet changes. They paid for their impatience by losing the chance to lead a great ministry.

    The exception to the above rule occurs when the people were disgusted with past leadership or the ministry was obviously beginning to fall apart. This requires just the opposite. Come in like a storm with a plan for action that includes major changes. They need and want it at this time. Knowing these two things may help chose the type of ministry situation God would have you follow.

    There is, of course, an exception to the exception. There are ministries that are in a mess and without visible leadership because an invisible, behind-the-scenes, leadership has ruined it and will continue to ruin it for everyone. These are usually made up of old deacons or strong church families who continually try to run things even when a pastor is there. Most of these pastors are run off as soon as they refuse to play ball. Sometimes, a very strong man can come in to such a scene and fight it out with this leadership and bring it back to a biblical church. Most men do not have the stomach for this kind of a fight. If you are not called of God to wage and to win such a warfare, it is best to stay out. Many churches deserve to have Ichabod written above the front door.

  58. You goal should be to have at least two people who can do any job or ministry in a church. This keeps you from overly depending on certain individuals and it keeps the individuals from thinking they are indispensable. Besides, most leaders should be training someone to take their place. They may be needed somewhere else or at some point unable to do their present work.
  59. In any great ministry, God will provide some special workers whom no one can replace. As mentioned before, have as much of their work known and understood by others as is possible. However, recognize that their departure would create a gap that will take time to replace and that this replacement can only be done by shifting jobs around. Do not kill yourself or the ministry demanding that anyone fulfill the exact same mix of duties.
  60. Proverbs 18:2 points out that the only real interest a fool has in understanding is that his heart may discover itself. So, while it is important to know your own personality and abilities, it is equally important to avoid being obsessed with the knowing of self. This discovery should be made early in a persons life and should not continue to dominate your intellectual energy. This desire to know self sometimes transfers to a desire to know our standing among the brethren. But we are not to measure ourselves by ourselves or compare ourselves among ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12). All of this is an obsession with self and will hinder the true ministry of Christ in us.
  61. Do what is right; do it the right way; and the right people will support you. God will compensate for those who do not.
  62. If God has put you into a position of ministry, then trust His wisdom and lead with the wisdom He has given you. When you need more wisdom, ask for it and He will give it.
  63. Get wisdom and get understanding and understand the different kind of getters:

    There are those who do not know there is anything to get the simple.

    There are those who do not get it the fool.

    There are those who seem to get it, but do not the fools fool.

    There are those who do not get it now, but will get it later the late bloomer.

    There are those who get part of it, but are not able to keep getting it the halt.

    There are those who get it, but ever so slowly the slow.

    There are those who get it the wise. This last group is a small minority and you will never have more than a few in your church or ministry.

  64. When you are in a position of authority and respect, your words may mean more than you think. Learn to temper your words and give criticism with honor to the one being criticized. Words yelled in anger may destroy.
  65. When you need workers, there are two ways to seek them. If the job is simple, you can make a general announcement and open up for volunteers. This is a good way to see if there are people who are itching to serve that you have failed to notice. However, if the job is more complex, it is best to recruit individually. Pray for Gods direction and study the people available. Then ask each person individually if he or she would be willing to serve. This usually gets higher quality workers. Some quiet people are very capable but will not volunteer. They need to be asked.
  66. Have a good spirit and attitude about serving the Lord and let it show. Others will also learn to enjoy serving God.
  67. Build a church on activities of service to God. Too many churches today are built on social activities. Soon, that is all the people want. We must teach our people the joy of working for God. That is the biblical purpose of the church.
  68. The maturity of a preacher can be gauged by the center of his focus while he is preaching. The beginning preacher focuses on himself and is predominately self-conscious. How do I look? Am I being accepted? As he grows, he becomes comfortable with himself and begins to focus on the message. Am I saying it right? Are the points coming together? Do I use this illustration here? Next, as he gains experience and his preaching becomes more natural, he learns to focus on the audience. Will they understand this? Will this move them in the right way? Finally, if he continues to grow spiritually, he finds his true focus in the Lord Himself? Is this pleasing to you Lord? Is my heart right with Him?
  69. If you are to train your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, you must teach them true biblical obedience. Biblical obedience has three outstanding traits: it is immediate, complete, and willing. It is immediate in that it does not wait to respond; it does not drag its feet. It is complete when it completely fulfills its duty. Saul had mostly obeyed the commandment of God to destroy the Amalekites (1Samuel 15). Yet, God judged his partial obedience as disobedience. Finally, obedience is willing when it is done with a willing heart and mind and with a good spirit. Willingness is all about attitude. When obedience is not done immediately, completely and willingly, it should be considered disobedience. This is true in the training of children. It is also true in our personal development as mature believers.
  70. When disciplining children, aim more at the attitude than the action. Sometimes a child does something wrong but with a good spirit or attitude. They were trying to do something good, but because of misunderstanding or ignorance on their part, they disobeyed the letter of the law. They may still need to be punished, but consideration needs to be made for their right spirit. On the other hand, children will sometimes do in a technical way what they have been told to do. However, through it all they have allowed their rebellious spirit to shine through bright and clear. A harsher sentence needs to be awarded to these children than the letter of the law would seem to allow. Attitude is more difficult to discipline than action. This explains why so many parents are somewhat satisfied if they can get the proper actions from their children. We should always aim higher. Strive to create a right spirit in your child. It is effort that will be well-rewarded.