Contented - A Sermon To Preachers

Bible Book: Philippians  4 : 11
Subject: Preacher; Pastor; Faithfulness in Ministry
Introduction

Philippians 4:11

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." (Philippians 4:11)"Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good?" (Psalm 34:12)

"Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches - Feed me with the food You prescribe for me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God." (Proverbs 30:7-9)

To be content in life is a goal most of us pursue. As ministers, we should not serve for "filthy lucre's sake," neither do we want to be constantly fretting over worldly concerns that takes us away from our families and our ministries. Like the Apostle Paul, we need to learn to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves. Some ministers are poor, some are wealthy; some are healthy, while others are not; some are rested, some are weary; some are encouraged, some are discouraged; some are satisfied, while others remain dissatisfied.

Life is ever changing. Never are our circumstances constant. Yet, we are instructed to be content with where we are, what we are, and who we are.In my life and ministry I have lived in nice houses and I have lived in a government project; I have been underpaid, and I have been well paid; I have been at challenging churches, and I have been at cherished churches. I have been unappreciated, and I  have been greatly appreciated; I have had enemies, and I have close friends; I have been mocked, and I have been respected. Through it all I learned the discipline of contentment. I have learned to be happy in life whatever my plot. A guiding thought that keeps me thinking with the right perspective is:  "I want to always be grateful for what I have, but never too good to go back to what I use to have."   Here are the four things that I long to be happy with.

Be Happy With...

I. Your Master

Jesus is so irresistible that it is incomprehensible that every mortal man would not embrace Him!

Twenty years ago a prison in Brazil was turned over to two Christians who now run the prison on Christian principles. Chuck Colson visited this prison and made this observation: "My guide escorted me to the notorious prison cell once used for torture. Today, he told me, that block houses only a single inmate. Slowly, he swung open the massive door, and I saw the prisoner in that punishment cell: a crucifix, beautifully carved by the inmates - the prisoner was Jesus, hanging on a cross. 'He's doing time for the rest of us,' my guide said softly.

"Christ has taken your place. There is no need for you to remain in the cell. Ever hear of a discharged prisoner who wanted to stay? When the doors open, the prisoners leave. The thought of a person preferring jail over freedom doesn't compute. Once the penalty is paid, why live under bondage? We should never get too "business-as-usual" with our salvation.

We need to continually return to Bethel - that place where we first encountered God.

Grace is God's willingness to commit Himself totally to us; Lordship is our willingness to commit ourselves totally to Him.

Spend personal time with the Lord everyday.

II. Your Marriage

One study shows that only 17% of marriages are happy. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition; it's a 100-100 proposition!

If you can't succeed in life's most primary and significant institution, you probably will have trouble in less significant areas of your life.

Ministerial Myths About Marriage

#1 If I love God, then we will make it. You still must work at your marriage.

Even your relationship with a perfect, holy, loving God will deteriorate if you don't work on it.

#2 If I marry the right person, then I will get the relationship I desired.

We falsely believe our bond with our spouse will remain just as strong as it was on our honeymoon night. Without the investment of new energy, any marriage will disintegrate.

#3 If I take care of my ministry, then God will take care of my marriage.

Illustration: Dr. Charles Stanley. If it could happen to this powerful preacher, it could happen to any of us.

#4 It is impossible to balance both ministry and marriage. You can balance them both.

Did God lead you into to both? Would God lead you into a situation that would cause harm to either? Didn't God establish both the family and the church?

Marriage and ministry is not an "either/or" proposition - you can be committed to both!

Most ministers feel they must decide which one to neglect. But in God's grand scheme of things, you have missed the point. In fact, a healthy marriage relationship will make you a better minister. And a healthy approach to ministry (or to your job) will make you a better husband. One enhances the other - not work against it!

Four Traits of a Strong Marriage

#1 Faithfulness

#2 Friends

#3 Freedom

#4 Flexibility

You are called...Pastor by many. Boss by some. Dad by a few. Son by two. Husband by one!

III. Your Ministry

A. Be Settled In Your Calling

Why God Put Me Here, I don't know how to say it, but some how it seems to me, That maybe we are stationed where God wanted us to be.

That little place I'm filling is the reason for my birth, And just to do the work I do, He put me on this earth.

If God had wanted otherwise, I reckon He'd have made, Me just a little different, of worse or better grade.

And since God knows and understands all things of land and sea,I fancy that He placed me here just where He wanted me.

Sometimes I get to thinking, as my labors I review, That I should like a higher place, with greater tasks to do.

But I come to the conclusion, when envying is stilled, That the post to which God sent me is the post He wanted filled.

So I plod along and struggle in the hope when day is through, That I'm really necessary to the things God wants to do.

And there isn't any service I can give which I should scorn, For it may be just the reason God allowed me to be born. (Author Unknown)

B. Be Settled In Your Cleansing
C. Be Settled In Your Convictions

Is It A Job...or Is It A Ministry?

Some people have a job at church. Others invest themselves in a ministry. What's the difference? If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a job.

If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.

If you are doing it just good enough to get by, it's a job.

If you are doing it to the best of your ability, it's a ministry. If you quit because someone criticized you, it was a job. If you keep on serving anyway, it's a ministry.

If you'll do it only as long as it doesn't interfere with your other activities, it's a job.

If you're committed to staying with it, even when it means letting go of other things, it's a ministry.

If you quit because no one ever praised you or thanked you, it was a job.

If you stay with it even though no one notices your efforts, it is a ministry.

If you do it because someone else said it needs to be done, it's a job.

If you do it because you sense God wants you to, it's a ministry.It's hard to get excited about a job. It's almost impossible not to be excited about a ministry.

People might say, "Good work," when you do your job.

The Lord will say, "Well done," when you complete your ministry!

Three Things Needed In Ministry (Shared by Johnny Hunt on January 22, 1996 at Staff Prayer Breakfast)

1. A Passion for it.
2. A Purpose for it.
3. A Plan for it.

The church is not there for the benefit of the Pastor. The pastor is there for the benefit of the church. Therefore, be happy serving others and be happy with your ministry field.

IV. Your Money

"Likewise the soldiers asked him (John the Baptist), saying, And what shall we do? So he said to them, Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages." (Luke 3:14, emphasis mine)

Facts About Church Salaries:

A stingy church can sap your joy in ministry.

Churches are obligated to pay a fair and decent wage to their staff. It is the pastor's responsibility to ensure a fair wage to his staff.

If you represent this to your Personnel Committee they will understand their need to take care of you. We are to learn the spiritual discipline of contentment even when we are underpaid.

"Money may be the husk of many things, but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; days of happiness, but not peace and joy." (Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian dramatist) Beware of becoming a prophet for profit! God or Gold (Shared by Johnny Hunt in the March 17, 1996 First Family newsletter)

Henry Ford asked an engineer, "What's your ambition in life?" "To make money and become rich," he answered. One day Mr. Ford gave him a pair of glasses with silver dollars in the place of lenses. "Put them on," he said. "What do you see?" "Nothing but money," he replied. "Maybe," said Ford, "you should rethink your ambition.

"Money is to be used, and God is to be loved. You'll get into trouble when you use God and love money. Let's give out of a love for God.

Three Key Biblical Words Concerning Finances:

1. Ownership Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.

"It all belongs to God.

2. Lordship
3. Stewardship

Be a good steward of what God has placed in your hands.

A budget is something that makes you worry about money before you spend it instead of afterwards. Most of us would be glad to pay as we go, if we could only catch up on where we've been.

Money is something you should make first and then make last.

A More Noble CauseMuch effort has been exerted throughout the history of mankind in the pursuit of riches. Yet, the people we regard as famous and noteworthy cared little for riches - Pasteur, Edison, Washington, Lincoln, Mother Teresa. These died with true riches - benefiting others. And was not theirs a fuller and fulfilling life? Today the world remembers and acknowledges them, but who can recite the money barons of their day? Or, who even cares to know? If you want your name and life's work to live beyond your assigned days, then don't give all your effort in worldly treasure - invest in others!