Ministry That Is Full of the Spirit
And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom.
Acts 6:3 NLT
When I entered the ministry some thirty years ago (it seems like yesterday), the emphasis was on the Holy Spirit’s power. Christian leaders taught that Christian ministry should not be pursued without the Spirit’s blessing. Our ministry could not be successful without the Spirit’s enabling. Our ministry would not have a lasting impact without the anointing of the Spirit. Our ministry could not change hearts without the transforming work of the Spirit. All these statements were true and are still true.
While these “spiritual” concerns were real and should be heeded by any gospel minister: we should not neglect diligent study of the Word, faithful theological reflection, and research into the latest insights in pastoral care and counseling. Emphasis on the Spirit’s anointing should not displace diligent and faithful study. “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 NLT).
It’s not an either-or, God blesses the minister with a yielded heart and a faithful mind. We worship and serve the Lord in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). We are called to love the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
However for today’s new minister, the pendulum has swung the other direction. For the training of new pastors, the academic is over emphasized to the neglect of spiritual maturity. The obtaining of advance degrees more prized than a ministry candidate’s prayer life. The size of the congregation more valued than than the depth of the minister’s walk with the Lord.
We need both: faithful men and women who will walk with God while consistently acting on the means of grace: study of the Word of God, earnest prayer, receiving the sacraments, and fellowshipping with other believers.
This practice he [i.e., David Brainerd] earnestly recommended on his death-bed, from his own experience of its great benefits, to some candidates for the ministry that stood by his bedside. He often speaking of the great need of ministers have much of the Spirit of Christ in their work, and how little good they are like to do without it; and how, ‘when ministers were under the special influences of the Spirit of God, it assisted them to come at consciences of men, and (as he expressed it) as it were to handle them with hands: whereas, without the Spirit of God, said he, whatever reason and oratory we make use of, we do but make use of stumps, instead of hands.’
Jonathan Edwards quoted by D. M. Lloyd-Jones, “Jonathan Edwards and the Crucial Importance of Revival,” in The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 370.