Pastor, please the Lord, not self or man.

”For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:3-4)

True workmen for the Lord do not have ulterior motives. They should not be greedy. Their desire should not be to amass wealth, status, or position off the backs of those they are to serve and to whom they are to preach the good news. One should not enter ministry for riches or acclaim.

Ministers are entrusted with the gospel. They are speak the truth in love, not to please man, but to please God. Here in lies the difficulty. God is our boss/master not man. Sometimes those two are at odds. When they are at odds with one another, our default should not be to please man, rather our default should be to please God, trusting He will care for us.

Pastor, why do you preach? Why do you serve? Is it for your own gain or the gain of others? Do you trust God to provide or do you fear man? As Pastors, we serve an audience of One (God) to the pleasure of many (the congregation). Our focus must always be on pleasing the Lord not self or man.

What Can You Do To Get in the Game?

Before going off to seminary in Fort Worth, I lived in Dallas and I attended FBC Dallas. While I was there, they ran a campaign entitled “Get in the Game”. The purpose of this campaign was to call people off the sidelines and into the game. They ran the campaign because believe it or not, there was a lack of people who were serving, even though they had thousands of members.

The problem they had isn’t uncommon or unique to them. Many churches face similar issues. I am not sure who did the research, but the consistent statistic I see over and over again is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work in churches. That means only 20% of the people are employing their God given gifts to further the kingdom of God. That is a problem because Jesus expects 100% of the people who are following Him to be employing their God given gifts to further the kingdom.

Jesus expects everyone to be on the field, He expects everyone to be in the game. In His kingdom, no one sits the bench. Everyone plays.

What Can You Do To Get in the Game?

Let me give you three fundamental things you can do right now to get in the game.

(1) A relationship with God is needed before you will use your gifts for the kingdom

If you don’t have a relationship with God, you aren’t going to exercise your gifts to further His kingdom. It’s as simple as that, so if you want to get in the game, you have to first have a relationship with God.

The only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus. You must believe that Jesus is your Savior and you must profess Him as your Lord.

So that’s the first thing that must be true in your life, if you are going to get in the game. You must have a relationship with Jesus and the Spirit must be working in your life.

(2) Trust God enough to use your gifts to further the kingdom

Working for the kingdom involves risk and cost — emotionally, physically, and monetarily. These costs might be what’s keeping you out of the game. But they shouldn’t. God is the all-sovereign, all-powerful God of the universe. He controls everything, which means that He can and will provide us with what we need to serve Him. We just have to trust God enough that He will do that.

(3) Care about and love others enough to use your gifts

When we don’t use our gifts to serve others in the church, essentially what we are saying is that we don’t care about and love others enough to do so. Instead, we care more about ourself, our comfort, our life, than we care about them.

But here is the thing. Christianity isn’t a religion that is focused on self. It is other oriented. Jesus is the prime example. We are Christians today. We experience salvation and a relationship with God today because Jesus was selfless. He cared about and loved others more than Himself. And that’s what drove Him to serve us on the cross.

So if we want to get in the game, we need to first have a relationship with God, then we need to trust God, and lastly, we need to care about and love others more than ourselves. If we need the motivation to do that, we only need to look to Jesus and the care and love He extended to us.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you using your God-given gifts to further the kingdom?


Post developed from my sermon Why Should We and How Can We Use Our God Given Gifts?

3 Practices to Help Deacons Fulfill Their Role

This past Sunday, my church ordained three additional men to the office of Deacon. The service, and time afterward, was filled with an air of celebration for what the Lord is doing in our church. The sanctuary was packed and fellowship hall was full of home cooked meals and dessert (we’re Baptist).

While last Sunday was significant, the work of the church doesn’t stop after the ordination service. There are still things the church should do to make sure their Deacons are successful in fulfilling their role.

3 Practices to Help Deacons Fulfill Their Role

(1) Pray for Them

I know you have heard the phrase: “prayer changes things”. While that is an extra-biblical slogan, it is true. Prayer does change things. We have witnessed this time and time again in the life of our church, especially on Wednesday nights. Every Wednesday, we hold a prayer meeting and Bible study. When we start our prayer time, we begin by praising God for the work He has done in our lives, the church, and community, as well as we praise Him for the prayers He has answered. Through this practice, we have come to see that prayer does change things, and it is powerful.

Since prayer is powerful, we should consistently pray for the Deacon’s serving in our churches. We should pray for them to increase in wisdom, guidance, patience, compassion, and love. As well as we should pray for their strength and endurance, as they serve the church and the mission of God.

Might I make a suggestion on how to pray? Divide your Deacons up so that you are praying for one, or several, depending on how many you have, each day of the week. So for instance, at my church, we now have five Deacons, which means the church should pray for one Deacon on Monday, another on Tuesday, another on Wednesday, and so on and so forth.

I am convinced if you commit to regularly praying for your Deacons, God will do a mighty work in your church.

(2) Encourage Them

Speaking from experience, one word of encouragement can really spur someone to keep pressing on, to keep fighting the good fight, to keep battling in the trenches of ministry.

If you want your Deacons to be all they can be, to serve your church, and Christ’s mission well, you should not only pray for them, but you should also encourage them in the work they are doing. Tell them how they are making a difference in your life, the life of your church, and the life of your community.

I am not saying you need to toot their horn, or even make a big announcement, just a simple thanks every now and again, or a quick testimony about how their ministry has impacted your life, or even the life of someone you know. Doing that is all it takes to refuel them for the difficult task at hand, which is something they will need often because ministry and serving others is hard work.

(3) Serve Alongside Them

Yes, Deacons are called to serve, but they aren’t call to serve alone. Think about the first Deacons in the Jerusalem church. There were seven, but there were also over five thousand members. There is no way seven men served all five thousand members of that first church. They certainly had others helping and serving alongside them.

Now, I understand most churches don’t have a membership base of five thousand. Nevertheless, the principle still applies – we are to serve alongside those who have been set apart for service in God’s church. We aren’t to call, and then leave them to do everything for us. Doing so not only means we are neglecting the use of our own spiritual gifts, but it is also the surest way to burn them out.


Those are several ways the church can help their Deacons fulfill their role. I encourage and challenge you to do each and every one of them. To pray for, encourage, and serve alongside your Deacons. If you do those three things, I know they will have a successful ministry in your church, and your church will have a successful ministry to your people and the community.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you serve alongside your Deacons?


Post adapted from my sermon A Charge for Our Deacons and the Churchwhich you can listen to here.


Diagnosing Our Ability to Serve

How do we serve our city? What needs can we meet? Who needs the most help? These are questions that can get you started when looking to serve your city, but what else should we be asking? That is where Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick’s book, For the City, comes in.

In their book, they offer a number of questions that can help you and your church diagnose your ability to serve your city. Here is a modified list that I handed out to my church.

Questions to Ask

(1) What are the needs of our city?

(2) Out of the needs we are aware of in our city, who has God called us to serve? (This will primarily be determined by the skills of those in the congregation)

  • Immigrants?
  • Young families?
  • Seniors?
  • Particular Ethnic group?
  • Singles?
  • Poor? How do we define this group:
    • Homeless?
    • Underemployed?

(3) What are the pressing needs of the group we are called to serve?





(4) What do we possess that would be beneficial to this group?

  • Particular skill?
  • Disposable income?
  • Flexible schedule?
  • Other?

(5) Where is God already working? Where can we join in where God is working?

(6) Where are the people gathering who we are called to serve?

(7) In what do those whom we are called to serve find their sense of identity of purpose?

(8) How does the gospel address the needs of the group we are called to serve? If they were to define good news, what would that definition look like?


Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter, For the City, 115.