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The Essential Ingredient for Ministry, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2023 7:05 am

The Essential Ingredient for Ministry, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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March 16, 2023 7:05 am

The Pros and Cons of Ministry


Given the opportunity, what would you choose to say to an auditorium filled with future pastors?

What counsel might you share with those who are training to lead our local churches? Today on Insight for Living, you have the privilege of listening in to Chuck Swindoll as he addresses the students at Dallas Theological Seminary. For seven years, Chuck was the president of the seminary.

Today, his title is Chancellor Emeritus. But it all started when Chuck enrolled as a student. He titled this highly personal message to the students, the essential ingredient for ministry. Sixty-two years ago, I stepped on this campus as a first-year student, fresh out of a tour of duty in the Marine Corps. That's what you call a major contrast in life. I had really no idea what to expect.

I had never seen the inside of a seminary, never attended one class, and had really only met a few of the professors of this school. My world had been a world in the military for a number of years, and now that that was over, Cynthia and I came on this campus just about as green as we could be. Since that time, everything in our world has changed, and many things in the church have changed. No one gave me a piece of paper that listed the things that I should anticipate and embrace in the changes that would come, those things that were good, healthy, and wholesome, nor was there a list of things given to me of things I should shun, watch out for under the heading of warning. This is dangerous. This will affect your life and ministry negatively.

Stay away from this. Those were choices that I would make in the next more than six decades, and those choices would be up to me. Just as you who graduate, some of you sooner, others of you later from now, you'll need to make on your own. What I did receive as I look back were four wonderful years of biblical knowledge taught to me by a rather small faculty.

Our student body was about 300, 325 as I recall. I also was provided with a, to use a metaphor that would fit, a box of tools that I would carry with me so that I could carry on in ministry without some professor telling me what to read or some course I was to take or some decision that I must make in order to graduate from something. Those days were over.

What I got was a box of tools that needed to be kept sharp that I would use on my own. I also left with a memory of magnificent mentors. A few of the faculty had put their arms around me and cared about my wife and me as we were here those four years. Began our family here.

We knew nothing of rearing children. That began here with our son who was born while we were beginning our third year at the school. And the mentors that helped shape my life would be with me for the rest of my years to this day. I can still recall some of the things they said. The investment they made in me was for a lifetime. In the midst of those four years and the decades that have followed, I've come to realize that there is one essential ingredient for ministry that was rarely mentioned. There was no course on it.

There never will be. As I recall, I don't believe many chapel speakers ever addressed it, if any. But looking back, I regret that I didn't hear more about it because I realize now, having lived these years in the church and in Christian ministry, that it is invaluable. It's what I'm calling the essential ingredient for ministry.

And I'm addressing this today in my message to all of you. It is integrity. Integrity. Listen to the late Warren Wiersbe's amplified definition of the word. He writes, the Oxford English Dictionary says that the word comes from the Latin integratus, which means wholeness, entireness, completeness.

The root word is integre, which means untouched, intact, entire. Integrity is to personal or corporate character what health is to the body, or 20-20 vision to the eyes. A person with integrity is not divided. That's duplicity. A person with integrity is not merely pretending.

That's hypocrisy. He or she is whole. Life is put together for that person.

And things are working together harmoniously within that life. People with integrity, adds Wiersbe, have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. Please remember that. You'll need to remember it in the years to come. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

Their lives are open books. That definition appears in his work, The Integrity Crisis, page 21. I discovered the Bible says quite a bit about integrity. In the New American Standard Bible, it is mentioned 27 times.

In the NIV, 22 times. In the King James, 16 times. Interestingly, the term itself is mentioned in the Old Testament, though the presence of integrity in various lives is found all the way through the scriptures. Proverbs is especially fond of it.

Listen to a few. He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out. 10, 9. Another. The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

11, 3. Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man? A righteous man who walks in his integrity. How blessed are his children after him?

20, 6 and 7. And I've always loved Psalm 78, 70 through 72, as that Psalm ends. God chose David his servant and took him from the sheep foals, from following ewes with suckling lambs. He brought David to feed his people, and so he led them according to the integrity of his heart, and he guided them with skillful hands. I've observed in my years in ministry that God is still searching for men and women of integrity. I hope you are one of them, and if you are not, I hope you will begin today to pursue it deliberately, consistently, faithfully. What does it mean to minister or to shepherd a flock with integrity? Some of the character traits that came to my mind as a result of going through the scriptures? It means you're verbally trustworthy. Listen to each one of these.

The list is somewhat long. You're verbally trustworthy. That means you speak the truth publicly and privately.

You don't change that message if it's in private or because you were before the public. You speak of the truth consistently. You're financially accountable. You pay your bills. You spend wisely. You give generously.

You save prudently. It means you're privately clean. You hide no secrets.

You do not live a double life. It means you practice intellectual veracity. You're not guilty of plagiarism. If you're using someone else's words, you give them credit. You state that these are not your words. These are someone else's words that you are quoting. Intellectual veracity. You're careful in doing your research.

You don't add to it to make it sound better. You stay with it as it appears. It also means you are ethically clean and clear. As we mentioned earlier, you have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. It means you're personally responsible. That would include admitting your own failures, never blaming another for what you are responsible for.

Never. You give others the credit they deserve always. You don't take a moment credit for what you do not have coming to you. You freely give it and faithfully give it to others. It also means you're openly vulnerable. To have integrity means you acknowledge your own lack of knowledge.

And if you don't know, you say, I don't know. You don't fake it. You don't deny your inadequacies. You make no attempt to impress others.

Please hear that. It goes on in ministry all the time. People often shape what they do or what they say, depending on what someone else is going to say or think. That's a lack of integrity. You don't worry about making a name for yourself. You're never doing what you're doing to impress.

Ever. It also means you are morally pure and relationally fair. You refuse to participate in acts of corruption, deception, or manipulation.

I'll tell you, men and women, the longer the list gets, the tighter the squeeze on your carnality. You don't use people. You don't take unfair advantage of them because of your title or your position. Often, graduates from the seminary wind up in places of leadership, sometime enviable leadership, and people just automatically, because of the position, look up to you how easy it is when that happens to take advantage of them, to play that role.

Integrity won't let you do that. And by the way, the more pronounced one's position, the greater the need for self-awareness. I read somewhere, I'll forget exactly where, it was in a magazine on business matters, and it spoke about the value of the strong natural leader and the one ingredient most often missing, it stated, was self-awareness. It's amazing as you grow and become more known and more in demand, how less aware you are of your own stupidity, of your own failure in statements, of your own duplicity or hypocrisy. Self-awareness is essential. So you have to set up checkpoints for your life.

You apply your own restraint because you know yourself, ideally, better than anyone else, unless it's your mate in life and you invite your wife or husband to please help you with that. And believe me, they will. They'll step into that when they should. When you consider a life like I've just described, you ask, can anybody ever measure up? I mean, it sounds like it's humanly impossible. If it were, the Lord would never expect it of us.

It isn't impossible. It just works against the old nature. It doesn't massage our pride. Now, in answering the question can anyone ever measure up, I'm pleased to say that there is a wonderful example in the Old Testament, Daniel 6, of the man himself who finds himself in the Medo-Persian Empire. It was a vast empire and it needed oversight, accountability, because it would be easy for there to be financial misdealings, acts of corruption, where individuals would be self-serving. And so Darius, the one who led the kingdom, decided he would set over it 120 satraps.

It's a word we never use. It's an old Persian word for protector of the kingdom, or more specifically, provincial governor. So he set 120 governors over the kingdom, and to oversee them so that they wouldn't take advantage of him, he chose three commissioners, or as some renderings handle it, vice-regents. Of those three, Daniel was one.

Think of that. In that vast kingdom, Daniel is one of three commissioners. Verse 3 of Daniel 6 states that Daniel's integrity began to emerge, in so many words, because the Scriptures state he began distinguishing himself. We would say he stood out among the groups of delegates of governors and commissioners alike. Quite likely it included his work ethic, his competence, his awareness of needs, his honesty, his attention to priorities, and his loyalty to authority. In all of that, Daniel was a model. He stood out. Darius noticed it. We're not left to speculate what he noticed, because the word because appears in the text. Because he possessed an extraordinary spirit.

I love that. That would include, I would imagine, a great attitude, a positive outlook on life, faithfulness to one's calling, to fulfill one's responsibilities, and we may assume great relational skills as well. He was a man of diligence, consistency, trustworthiness. He was a man of integrity. These marks of personal integrity did not go unnoticed by the king, and so, as you're familiar from your knowledge of Daniel, the king decided to appoint him over the entire kingdom, like what we might call a prime minister, second in command only to Darius. Imagine that. Daniel's getting up in years.

Daniel's a proven worth, not overlooked by Darius. So he planned the promotion, and the word spread, as you would imagine, the other two commissioners who weren't chosen, and the 120 governors who weren't chosen, none of them, the immediate reaction was a mixture of envy, resentment, jealousy. It never fails. Never fails.

When you stand out, there will always be those envious of you. You cannot let that affect you. You cannot let it go to your head.

You cannot ignore it either. You must be wise, aware, knowing that's going on. But what Daniel did not know, quite likely, was the plot they set in motion. Jealousy, envy turned this plot into a serious and in-depth investigation for some secret compromise, some distrustful act, some proof of insubordination, some private dealing in governmental affairs. They were determined to find something wrong in Daniel's life. Think about that.

Let's pause here. Let's move it from Daniel to your life as a minister of the gospel. And a group of enemies, and you will have them, are determined that they will find something against you. When you stop to number it, that's 122 resentful people who made Daniel the target of their probing activity, fueled by relentless suspicion, prejudice, and determination. It was like an ancient 60 Minutes investigation.

Think about that in your ministry. Those guys were like hungry lions stalking their prey, all of them set to point out something, anything, anything they could find against Daniel, anything that would serve as tangible proof that they could report to Darius. By the way, I noticed this, we read nothing of Daniel's panic, knee-jerk reaction, quick attempt to cover up, some wrongdoing, some secret activity. The presence of integrity in one's life is like a thick, warm blanket on a cold day. It gives you deep inner security. There's nothing to hide.

So there's nothing to fear, just as Weersby defined the word. Chuck Swindoll is speaking to the students at Dallas Theological Seminary as they prepare for full-time Christian service. And there's much more teaching ahead. Chuck is talking about the essential ingredient for ministry. That ingredient, of course, is integrity. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at From the inception of Insight for Living back in 1979, Chuck has carried a torch for those who lead our churches. Pastoring a church is a noble calling, and it's a role that Chuck has cherished for six decades. Gratefully, our audience is filled with men and women in ministry who rely on Chuck's teaching for encouragement and instruction.

We know that's true because we often hear from them. At Insight for Living, we take their participation seriously, knowing that church leaders are often responsible for impacting entire communities for Christ. In fact, as part of Insight for Living's global ministry, we send field pastors to remote places of the world to bring solid Bible teaching by radio and the internet.

And these field pastors translate Chuck's messages into languages such as Romanian, Polish, and Portuguese, to name a few. When you give a donation to Insight for Living, a small portion of your contribution is allocated for this cause. And we're grateful for your investment in the global community of believers in this way.

To give a donation today, go online to slash donate. In conclusion today, did you know that many in our listening family are reading through the Bible together from start to finish? The Bible reading guide is posted online at slash Bible. On our website, you'll find far more than the Bible reading guide. You'll also have access to sermons, charts, and maps, helpful articles and more.

So take a look at the resources we've prepared for you at Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun, all in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.

Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.

When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at slash events.

The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about The Essential Ingredient for Ministry here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Essential Ingredient for Ministry, was copyrighted in 2021 and 2023, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2023 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-15 14:23:56 / 2023-03-15 14:31:22 / 7

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