Cross Words: Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
Topic: Sermons Passage: 1 Corinthians 2:6–2:16
We’re continuing in our sermon series on 1st Corinthians this week and we’ve come to 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. The church at Corinth is a struggling church, and one of the issues is wisdom, or the lack thereof. And so this week, the Apostle Paul will tell us where wisdom comes from and that gives us a clue to this week’s key word. Paul deals with this issue of needing wisdom (don’t we all?) by pointing them to the work of the Holy Spirit. As I’ve entitled this series “Cross Words” then this week the key word from the text is “Spirit.” So why do we need the Spirit, what does the Spirit do for you, and what are we like without the Spirit? All important questions.
But this week we’re going to tackle them in light of a very special event. This past Sunday I asked you to pray for Frank Wang today (Tuesday) as he concluded his ordination exams in front of the Presbytery. Well, you prayed and he passed, so this Sunday, we get to celebrate the Ordination of Frank Yu-Chieh Wang to the Gospel Ministry. Since ordination is conducted by the Potomac Presbytery, we’ll have the privilege of being joined this week by a number of Teaching and Ruling Elders from the Presbytery, including several RTS Professors. It’s going to be a special time in the life of our church and I urge each of you to make every effort to be there!
With that in mind, I want to take a moment to pass on some principles for pastoral ministry. These come from the book Pastor to Pastor by Erwin Lutzer. And while I’ve not always done these well, I’ve found them to be good counsel because pastoral ministry can be such an overwhelming challenge. How should your time be spent when there are endless good things from which to choose? When you say yes to one activity, you must say no to another. However, principles exist that help guide all of us who serve as pastors:
Praying is more important than preaching. You must guard your time for prayer even more closely than your time for study. When forced to choose, make prayer your top priority. Prayer is not preparation for the work – it is the work.
Preaching is more important that administration. Many pastors spend so much time running the church that they have little time for study and reflection. But it is the ministry of the Word that gives the greatest impact.
The family is more important than the congregation. Pastors receive affirmation from their congregations and often feel vulnerable to the pressure of public opinion. There is a constant temptation to meet the expectations of the congregation before the needs of your spouse and children. Make the hard choices in your families’ favor.
Faithfulness is more important than success. It’s easy to get discouraged in the ministry when you compare yourself to others. In today’s Social Media world, it’s easy to feel like everyone has a bigger church, is a better preacher, and is more loved than you are. It takes both work and humility to overcome a spirit of comparison and rejoice in and learn from the successes of other pastors. When you are content with your part in the kingdom’s work, you will have a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Love is more important than ability. Obviously, you cannot function without gifts that qualify you for the demands of the ministry. You must know the Word and be able to communicate it, and you must have skills for working with people. The Apostle Paul cautioned that all the gifts and talents were folly if not accompanied by love (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
I hope these simple principles will serve Frank well. It would be good for you, as members of Potomac Hills, to occasionally remind him of them, and remind him of how much you are praying for him. And may we all be able to say to Frank, Philemon 1:7, “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”
It’s going to be a great Sunday! See you there, Dr. Dave