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Spiritual Maturity: A Heart Ruled By Grace


Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

This is part 2 follow up of the previous post titled, “Why Seminary Education Does Not Equate Spiritual Maturity.”  Being in ministry can be so distracting that one can lose sight of the very reason we’re in ministry- the glory of God.   What drives the heart of those that are in ministry will direct and drive their ministry.

Paul Tripp has written another post on, ‘The Man Behind the Ministry‘ in which he writes:

We are not calling skills, knowledge, and experience to ministry.  We are calling whole people who live out of the heart and whose ministries will always be shaped and directed by some kind of worship.  We are calling people in the middle of their own sanctification, still struggling with the seductive and deceptive power of sin. We are calling people who face the daily snares of a world that simply is not operating the way that God intended.  We are calling people God will call into hardship for their redemptive good and for his glory.  We are calling people in intimate daily relationships with other sinners.  We are calling people capable of losing their way, capable of self-deception, and tempted to be self-sufficient and self-righteous.  We are calling people who drag their feelings about and interpretations of ministry experiences into this new place.  We are calling people in as desperate need of forgiving, transforming, empowering, and delivering grace as anybody to whom they would ever minister.  We are calling real people who are not yet grace graduates.

Furthermore, he writes:

Put two people with the exact same training, experience, and skill set next to one another, and it would be easy to conclude that they will respond in similar ways to the push and pull of local church ministry.  It would be easy to conclude this, but dangerous.  The potential for significance difference in the way these men function as pastors is as wide as the catalog of things that can rule a person’s heart in ministry.

It is naïve to think that pastoral ministry is always propelled by love for Christ and love of his gospel.  It is simplistic to conclude that people in ministry have a natural and abiding love for people.  It is dangerous to conclude that everyone in ministry is working to further God’s kingdom.  It is important to recognize that many people in ministry have been seduced by self-glory and lost sight of the glory of God.  Not all people in ministry do their work out of a humble sense of their own need. Ministries derail because leaders begin to think they have arrived and don’t do the protective things they warn everyone else to do. It’s naïve to think that pastors are free from sexual temptation, fear of man, envy, greed, pride, anger, doubt of God, bitterness, and idolatry.  Every pastor is being reconstructed by God’s grace.

So it is essential to know the heart of the man behind the knowledge, skill, experience, and ministry strategy before you call him to pastor God’s flock. You can be assured that like God’s leaders of old, he will face crucial personal and ministry choice points.  In those significant moments, the heart will win the day and determine what he will do. Because, like everyone else, whatever rules his heart will direct his life and his ministry. It is vital to get way, way beyond the profile that emerges from the data on his vitae.  The one called to teach God’s Word must have a heart ruled by grace.

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