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The Essential Ingredient for Ministry, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
March 17, 2023 7:05 am

The Essential Ingredient for Ministry, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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March 17, 2023 7:05 am

The Pros and Cons of Ministry


Our churches are facing a crisis.

It's a leadership crisis. First, there seem to be more churches than qualified pastors to lead them. And second, finding a pastor with personal integrity is harder still. Today, on Insight for Living, we have the privilege of hearing an address that Chuck Swindoll gave to the students at Dallas Theological Seminary.

If you missed the first half of Chuck's presentation, we'll begin with helpful highlights. Chuck identified what he believes to be the essential ingredient for ministry. And that ingredient is, of course, integrity. 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. 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 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. It also means you are ethically clean and clear. 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 don't worry about making a name for yourself. You're never doing what you're doing to impress.

Ever. You don't use people. You don't take unfair advantage of them because of your title or your position. Self-awareness is essential.

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, when answering the question, can anyone ever measure up, I'm pleased to say that there is a wonderful example in the Old Testament, Daniel Chapter 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. More likely, it included his work ethic, his competence, his awareness of needs, his honesty, his attention to priorities, and his loyalty to authority.

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. 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. 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. There's nothing to hide. It's a good time for me to pause and remind you of the value of that in ministry. If you begin to do anything that you must hide, it is wrong. You will be found out. It will break the heart of your family, it will embarrass the church you're serving or the ministry you're a part of. It will turn those who have trusted you against you because you have lied with your life. But look at the end of verse four, the good news.

Unfortunately, we're so familiar with it, it doesn't surprise us to read it, but it is a surprising ending to the plot. But they could not find ground of accusation or evidence of corruption in as much as he was faithful. No negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Read in that integrity. Nothing was out of line. Amazing.

Eugene Peterson renders this section in this way. The vice regents and governors got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel's life that they could use against him. But they couldn't dig up anything.

He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could not they could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct. So they finally gave up and said, we're never going to find anything against this Daniel. There's prejudice in the way that's written, the way they spoke. We'll never find anything against him unless we can cook up something religious. That's exactly what they did.

Their failed investigation was twisted into a conspiracy of deception. And they themselves lack integrity in the way they went to the king and said, remember, you're the one that's to be worshipped. You're the one we're about before. Sign this edict, make it clear to everyone.

You and you alone are worthy of worship. Daniel refused to do that, as you know so well, and the result was he was thrown into a den of lions who never sunk a tooth in him. Since, as Vernon McGee has put it, he was three fourths gristle and the rest backbone. There was nothing to eat. They lost their appetite.

God took it away. So much for Daniel. I'm speaking today to you who are preparing for a lifetime of ministry, a lifetime of being watched, a lifetime of being up front, a model. Like it or not, you are the example. Accepting any position of leadership means you will be observed, quoted, and examined. It won't always be fair, as in the case of Daniel. It won't always be from a pure motive.

It often is not. But nevertheless, it will happen. And unless you determine during your years at this school, as part of your training, to figure out what has been missing that has meant such duplicity and hypocrisy in your life, that it's got to get cleaned up, unless you go there, you're going to carry that with you into ministry. And you'll just learn to fake it as you get older. You'll get a little more creative. And you'll get a little more dangerous. If you're not careful, you will focus your entire years at this school only on theological subjects.

Nothing wrong with that, except the only part. There's more to learn here than theology. If you fail to give attention to this ingredient in your life, you will regret it again and again. You must make one of your major goals becoming a woman or man of integrity. That goal will not be reached easily or automatically. That's why it's so rare among those in ministry. We care too much about pleasing other people. That doesn't change when you get promoted. You only get more suave at that. You get increasingly more phony.

So easy for that to happen. We forget that we serve an audience of one, one, one. He's the one who will honor acts of righteousness, who will reward deeds that are done in the power of the Spirit. But we get so blame-impressed with powerful people or people with money or individuals who have titles that are enviable. We forget that audience of one principle.

I put it this way in my notes. Hardly a day goes by that we do not have to choose between compliance to what is expedient, rather than being loyal to and pleasing only the Lord our God. That applies to everyone at this school, from the president to the first-year student. So I want to challenge you today to pursue a life of integrity and to make that your life goal. Don't be afraid of saying so. Put yourself on the spot.

Spread the word that that's your main focus. Now let me wrap all this up with a story that's true. I started my message today by taking you back 62 years to my first day walking onto this campus. I want to end it by looking ahead to your final day on this planet.

You're on your deathbed. You're surrounded by those who love you the most. They're running their fingers through your hair. They're holding your hand. They're singing the songs of the faith. They're praying over you.

They've loved you throughout your life. They're saying their final goodbyes. You'll be there someday if Christ doesn't return. You'll live long enough to be at that place on your last day. All of them will be left with one thing you leave for them. Memories. Memories of you. The closer they were to you, the better they knew you.

And there will be an individual or two who will have the unenviable task of going through all of your private effects, personal belongings. Which brings me to the story. This happened to a friend of mine named Bob. A number of years ago, his beloved father died. Large Italian family, close knit, dad was just everything to all of them.

They loved him deeply, intimately. He was a man who had been the kind of man a son would long to have as a father. Kind, devoted to Bob and his, and Bob's mother. He was humble, joyful, strong in convictions, pure of heart.

A man of genuine integrity. To Bob and all of his siblings, their father was almost too good to be true. It was that thought that haunted Bob when the family looked to him and said, we'd like you to be the one who goes through all of his personal effects. He would be the one chosen to sit at the desk where his father had sat. To open drawers that only his father had opened. To read through letters and notes only his father had read. Quite likely to see photographs he had never shared with others. File folders, little boxes not even his wife had opened. Very private papers that other eyes had never seen.

The day began as Bob wondered to himself what he would find. Left his dad dearly as I said. Admired him greatly. Were there secrets he had kept? Was there another life? Had there been other women? Meticulously and tediously Bob spent hours as best I recall almost an entire day searching, reading, sometimes smiling, other times wiping away tears, remembering.

What a task. To his delight he found nothing untoward. There was nothing scandalous.

There was nothing even near suspicious or questionable. The man was as clear and clean in his private world as his family and others had believed him to be in his public life. The Bob I refer to as Bob Garipa who served here for years as the Dean of Students loved Bob dearly.

Hated to see him retire. The kind of man everybody wanted to be with. Bob was raised right with this kind of dad. He realized that his father was a modern Daniel.

No negligence or corruption was found in him, Daniel 6-4. As I recall Bob telling me he wept audibly. Out of gratitude and joy.

The man he had admired and respected throughout his life, his beloved father, was everything he had believed him to be. My closing words. I pray that will be true of me. When I'm gone. When I breathe my last.

And my oldest son, Kurt. As the task of going through my things. My computer. My Internet. My private world. My journals.

That I wrote in when Kurt wasn't even around. I hope this will be true of me. I want that to be true of me.

More than I can put into words. And I pray it will be true of you as well. Here's what it will take. Living our lives with uncompromising integrity.

And it is never too late to start doing what is right. I urge every one of you from the president down to the first year student. If any of this has brought conviction that's come from the Holy Spirit. Pay attention to it. May integrity mark your ministry.

And mine. Dear Father, we pause in this heartfelt moment. And place ourselves before you. We unfold our lives. With you there is no secret. With you there's nothing hidden.

We are naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. That's you. And I thank you that that is true. Continue to watch over my life. That I not yield in these later years.

And become an embarrassment to the Swindoll family. May this student body gain the reputation of being men and women. Of unswerving, uncompromising integrity.

If it's not going on now, may it start today. I pray in the name of the one who modeled this. Every day he was on this earth. Even Jesus Christ.

And everyone said, Amen. Yesterday, and again today, we've had the privilege of hearing a recent message that Chuck Swindoll delivered to the students and faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary. He titled his message, The Essential Ingredient for Ministry. To dig deeper into this topic and to access Chuck's study notes for this message, go to slash studies.

As your next step in cultivating integrity in your life, I want to tell you about a brand new resource that will guide you. It's a brief book by Chuck called, Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React. If you're a longtime listener to Insight for Living, that title might sound familiar to you. That's because it's one of the most highly quoted statements that Chuck has ever made. While Chuck popularized the quote, the wisdom is not his own. It's rooted in scripture and described in his new seven chapter book. He's written on topics such as freeing yourself from drama and overcoming envy and another one on how to have a joyful and prosperous life. If you're looking for the perfect gift for the student in your life, this would be the one.

Again, it's called, Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React. To purchase a copy, go to slash store or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.

Well, we say it often, but it bears repeating. This program is made available through the generous support of friends just like you. There's no large church or institution that subsidizes our expenses. So as God leads you to give and support this worthy effort, please follow his leading. If you're listening in the United States, you can call 800-772-8888.

Or you can go online to slash donate. Take it from Chuck Swindoll. There's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier. Wide open skies, pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise, mingled within them towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife. I'll tell you, Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things. But honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska.

God is awesome. Come with us on the Inside for Living Ministries Cruise to Alaska, July 1 through July 8, 2023. When I'm in Alaska, I feel like I'm in an amazing painting created by God. Let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty. Spend quality time with those you love. Allow God to refresh your soul as you reflect on his word and his goodness in your life. To learn more, go to slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444.

The Tour de 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 describes what he calls the magnificent obsession of Jesus, 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 / 2023-03-16 14:10:34 / 2023-03-16 14:18:22 / 8

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