Tag Archives: ministry

Humility in Confidence

Last week, I had a chance to share God’s Word before an audience of over 300 students and faculty at Makerere. The topic assigned to me was Mentoring and I had a lot of fun preparing and presenting it. After speaking, I received a ton of positive feedback on all aspects of it. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed receiving praise and grew a lot in my confidence as a speaker and teacher of God’s Word.

How does one remain humble after receiving so much positive feedback? It’s easy to be humble when the vast majority of my affirmation comes from my mom (whose encouragement I am continually grateful for); it’s slightly more difficult when feedback from a number of sources tempts me to believe I really am all that.

I don’t believe confidence and pride are synonymous. Pride is much too tricky to be that simple. I’ve known people who took pride in their lack of self confidence. I’ve struggled with pride my whole life and I know there’s more to overcoming it than self deprecation.

Here are a few practices in my life that I hope, by God’s grace, to help me remain humble even as I grow in confidence in the ministry God calls me to.

Recognize the source of all gifts: 1 Corinthians 4:7 has recently become one of my favorite verses. “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians rings true to me. It’s not a lie that I have a gift for public speaking and of teaching. But on what merit did I receive these gifts but by God’s grace and His providence.

I am very blessed to have grown up in my family. I grew up watching my dad, who is a much better teacher than I am. I grew up watching him teach publicly in the church, and had the privilege of having him explain scripture to me often as a new Christian. Only by the greatest pride and self-delusion could I deny his role in my development. My mother is also gifted as a teacher and so by nature and nurture, I am who I am. I didn’t earn my heritage, but am simply a recipient of blessing.

Rejoice with other great speakers: One sure testimony of pride is jealousy. So often, my heart wants to grumble when someone else gets the spotlight. The day after I spoke, a good friend of mine was invited to speak at a lunch hour session and he did a great job. That meant that the same people who had been complimenting me now shifted their attention to him. I had to make an intentional decision to affirm his ministry and to be sincere about it.

I love how Paul responded to the ministry of another leader in the church in Corinth. Apollos served faithfully and skillfully so that people began to choose between Paul and Apollos. Instead of getting into the debate, making a case for himself, Paul responds to point attention back to God. “Who then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed as the Lord assigned to each… So neither he who plants and he who waters are anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7).

We as Christians frequently claim that only God deserves the glory for His work among His people. We corroborate our belief in that when we allow Him to use someone else to do what we feel we also could do just as well, if not better.

Seek to constantly grow in my gifts: The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 speaks to anyone who has been given responsibility for anything in God’s providence. We are stewards of all we own, accountable to God for how we use it. Notice that the master wasn’t satisfied with a simple return of his money by the third servant. He expected investment, development and growth. How proud and ungrateful are we when we think we have arrived and don’t invest in developing what God has given us?

Some of you know I’m a big fan of (read: obsessed with) the New England Patriots football team. The team’s quarterback- a player who could retire today and be guaranteed a spot in the hall of fame- is a great role model of this. In post game conferences, he will regularly talk about needing to improve as a player and as a team. Fourteen years into the game, he still has a tutor teaching him to improve his throwing in the offseason.

Recognize the limit of my responsibility: In the book of John, Jesus teaches the disciples about His vision for the church after His death, resurrection and ascension. He tells them, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father… He will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning.” Essentially, He tells them that evangelism will be the work of two entities: The church and the Spirit. Who will actually bear the responsibility of bringing about transformation and salvation? The Holy Spirit; not us (John 16:8-11).

Ultimately, as a teacher of God’s Word, my job is to introduce people to Jesus through whatever topic and scripture I teach on. Whether I do a great or horrible job, the responsibility is on the Spirit of God to bring true vision of Christ’s glory, repentance and transformation. My pastor uses the analogy of a pencil. Nobody in the history of written communication has ever praised a pencil for any work of literature produced. It’s easy to see when a writing utensil doesn’t perform up to standard, but when it does its job well, all the glory goes to the author. May we seek simply to be worthy tools in the hands of our master.

Ultimately, the task of remaining humble is one of prayer. These principles in themselves have no ability to control the deceitful self-aggrandizing of the heart. Only God, through reminder of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) and the piercing of His Word (Hebrews 4:12) can restrain and purify the heart.

From Christ and through Him and to Him are all things.

To Him be glory forever

Advertisements

Show Me Your Glory

From time to time, I doubt God’s presence with me. Not necessarily that I question His existence, but it seems that, with all that we talk about God’s power, there should be more dazzling displays of His hand at work. Most of the time, however, life seems to follow a fairly normal, predictable pattern. Unpleasant surprises outnumber those events one might consider miraculous. I can’t help but occasionally ask, “What if I’m in this by myself?”

It’s not as though my faith has been unfruitful. I’ve grown in character and discipline since I became a Christian, and finding my identity in Christ has freed me to enjoy being myself. I love being a Christian even with the sacrifices and the ongoing self denial. I evangelize because I have experienced love and grace in knowing Jesus. The community of believers, known globally as the church, continues to be a regular witness of Christ to me.

Still, I have moments of doubt. So lately, I’ve taken to asking myself a question I frequently asked atheists in conversations at McMaster: what would it take to believe without reservation? What evidence would remove all doubt in my mind that God is with me? This question is effective in evangelism because it reveals our incredible capacity to explain things away. No external evidence is enough to make one believe something the heart rejects. It is therefore necessary to engage the heart, not simply the senses to overcome doubt.

I recently came upon a character in scripture who also wrestled with thoughts about God’s departure from his ministry. Moses was a person who got to see God at work in epic measure. He met God at a talking bush, crippled a world super-power with ten plagues, and brought about the freedom of a nation from slavery. He followed a sky high pillar of cloud and fire, walked across a sea without getting wet, ate bread from heaven, drank water from a rock and generally had the most exciting ministry in the history of mankind.

Then the people screwed up in a big way and pissed off the Most High God. God backed down from destroying them, but Moses still faced the reality of going without God and it scared him. He had an assurance that God would not leave him, but he wanted more. In Exodus 33:18, Moses asks, “Please show me Your glory.”

What an unbelievably bold request. And what an amazing prayer to imitate. It’s possible that many of us are too willing to go ahead with God’s work without assurance of God’s presence. I know I often am. I break down ministry into a set of skill and practices that I can perform to get decent results. I think I ask too little of God in ministry. What if I asked God, like Moses did, to show me His glory? What would happen? What would I see?

I don’t believe that routine and normalcy in ministry are signs of unfruitful ministry. Doubt isn’t a an indicator of God’s absence. It can be, however, a reminder to ask God to do what only He can do. Tough times can be a challenge to pray big.

Think about it: God doesn’t scold Moses for his request, but grants it. And in God’s reply, we can see how God desires to reveal His glory to His people.

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” – Exodus 33:19

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.  -Exodus 34:5-8

It’s remarkable that God displays His glory by talking about Himself. It would have made a lot of sense for God’s glory to show itself in thunder and earthquakes and other awe inspiring phenomena. Intuition tells us that we’re supposed to be awed by the display of God’s glory. More than awe, however, God’s glory as seen in this passage is a revelation of God’s character.

For Moses, God’s glory was seen in the undeniable experience of who God is. His goodness passed before Moses and His name was proclaimed. This view of God’s glory is echoed in the New Testament. Jesus prays, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do… I have manifested Your name to the people whom You gave me out of the world.” (John 17:4,6). In Christ, we are said to have seen the glory of God (John 1:14), an idea expounded in these words from Hebrews: He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3).

God’s glory is ultimately relational. Experiences of His glory lead us to know Him more. On the mountain with God, Moses was given knowledge of God, which resulted in worship. It wasn’t power detached from revelation; not simply a miracle. Peter saw Jesus’ transfiguration but denied Him three times at the crucifixion. It wasn’t until he was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts that he received power to be a witness.

God’s glory is both an external and internal witness of God’s presence. To simply request an internal manifestation of God’s glory- peace, joy, and a real sense of intimacy with God- is to ask too little of Him. Similarly, we cannot be content simply with external signs- salvation, miracles, providence and provision. God wants to engage our heart and our senses.

Moses saw God’s glory on the mountain and was empowered to continue in the ministry God gave to him. I want to see more of His glory and be energized to fulfill my assignment. I don’t want to move until I know He is with me. But when He engages my heart and my senses with the reality of His presence, I know I can move mountains.

All things from Christ, through Him and to Him. To Him be glory forever.

Pride: The Struggle is Real

I struggle with pride. I know what I’m capable of accomplishing and it’s very easy for me to trust in myself. I know what I’m good at; I know what other people are bad at. Pride is something that comes naturally to me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been good at almost everything I’ve ever attempted: school, sports, socializing and, for the most part, faith have always come very easy for me. I’m not looking to brag (I don’t think), but I’m hoping to give some context to my reflection for this week.

Because of my pride, I fear failure. Ego is a very fragile thing and very easily shattered. I’m the kind of person who generally doesn’t try anything unless I know I’m good at it. I’m very sensitive to cues that I might be less than adequate. I’m constantly comparing myself to others, mentally calculating how I stack up against those in my environment. Even now, I’m hoping my confession doesn’t make you think any less of me. This is my reality, my constant struggle. Every waking moment, I must war against a mindset that demands my glory at all costs.

Pride has many appearances. This week, I saw it most clearly evident in a surge of jealousy towards a Christian brother. He was getting an opportunity to do ministry in a context that I particularly enjoy, and I found myself becoming upset. In that moment, it mattered little to me that he was being used by God to bless others because it wasn’t me being used. For a moment, my desire to feel needed was more important than the edification of another.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. -Philippians 2:1-4

What does it mean to “do ministry”? To minister is to serve. Paul describes a humility that makes the needs of others more important than ours. This is the antithesis of pride. Pride is selfish by nature: its focus is completely on self. Pride thinks about what I can do, how I am being perceived, if I am getting praised, whether I can make myself stand out even more. Paul speaks of humility as counting others more significant than oneself.

I’m struck by the words Paul uses to open up this section of discourse. Essentially he tells us, if we are to claim any experience of God, we must walk in unity. Unity is built through humility. Pride is not only detrimental to our personal walk, but to the unity of the Church. Pride divides because it makes us seek our individual good above the good of the community.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:5-8

Humility in its purest form was modelled to us by Jesus. This is the message of the gospel. God, in Jesus, became man and suffered death for our good. No human in history has had more justification for pride than Jesus, and yet He died the painful death of a common criminal for us. If God could elevate the needs of treasonous sinners above His own, how much more is required of us who are recipients of His grace and called to be His followers? The solution to pride is to be reminded of the gospel again.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11

What should be our primary motivation for killing pride? God’s glory. God is on a mission to redeem mankind and free all creation from the curse of sin. At the end of time, He will bring about a new heaven and earth and unite all creation under the banner of His worship. Today, He calls us to be His hands and feet building His kingdom. We pray for His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We don’t lose our individuality but leverage our unique gifts to proclaim His great name. Our pride, our glory can only get in the way of that. We kill pride by remembering the gospel and we kill pride for the sake of God’s glory.

Yet pride is more resilient than headless cockroach and has more rebirths than the Batman franchise. Pride doesn’t ever really go away; it simply hides in new disguises. I’ll likely struggles with pride until the day I die, fighting a constant battle to remember the gospel. And because I don’t think I’m the only one that fights this battle, I’d like to conclude with a wonderful scripture for meditation.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
-Psalm 139:23-24

 

Doing What I’m Called to; Leaving the Rest to Others

Recently I had a conversation with a successful Christian professional. She’d gotten a great job out of university and I got to hear a bit of her experience in the business world. It was a really cool conversation, but I left with a very clear impression: I could never make in the business world she navigates with relative ease. It’s been a while since I’ve felt inadequacy to such a degree, like I didn’t measure up. Suddenly my plans for the future seemed so lame in comparison to what she had accomplished.

I thank God for my involvement with Power to Change at McMaster. It’s introduced me to a style of ministry I enjoy and am able to do quite well. I’ve been blessed to go on three short term mission trips with Power to Change and will be spending one year in Uganda to serve with them after I graduate. And yet, I find myself thinking, could I be successful outside of this particular context? Am I pursuing a lifetime of Christian ministry simply because I couldn’t cut it anywhere else?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Many of my friends are going to graduate and pursue jobs medicine, engineering, nursing, teaching, etc. Some of my classmates are going to make big discoveries in biochemistry, biology, neuroscience and more.  They will become professors at prestigious universities and fly around the world to lead huge networks and speak at global conferences. I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with my career aspirations or with theirs.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. – Ephesians 4:4-7

Every Christian has one thing in common: We worship the same God. Our faith is consistent even in its many expressions. There is one mission we are called to as an act of worship. But we are blessed with God’s grace as individuals. We are gifted individually.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes – Verses 11-14

The New King James Version says “He gave some…” We are all members of one body, all called to worship Christ, but some are given the task to teach, inform and build up the body. This becomes evident as we look into church history. We talk about the church fathers Ireneaus, Tertullian, Augustine, and others and their role in defining orthodox Christian belief. We talk about the doctrinal positions of Calvinism, Arminianism and the Reformation in terms of the inspirational figures of John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius and Martin Luther. Many theologians today refer to the legendary works of Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon.

In the Old Testament, God spoke through prophets, individuals blessed to deliver and suffer on account of God’s revealed Word. The early church resolved doctrinal disputes by bring them to the apostles (Acts 15:1-35). Certain individuals particularly gifted in evangelism have taught and trained the body of believers in reaching those in our lives who don’t yet know Jesus: Bill Bright, Josh McDowell and Ravi Zacharias come to mind.

It becomes quickly evident that our understanding of doctrine doesn’t evolve as the result of a democratic process, but through the faithful ministry of gifted individuals. Even today, the church is being built into doctrinal maturity, not by the impressions and opinions of everybody who has a dream or vision, but under the faithful tutelage of diligent teachers.

Over the course of my life, it’s become evident that I find my greatest joy in teaching, leading and building into believers. God has blessed me with many opportunities to grow in these areas on my campus. I am not particularly special or spiritual; it is not on my merit that I have been given these gifts, and I cannot exercise them for my glory. I am as much a sinner in need of grace as anyone. Yet it pleased God to gift me to serve His church in this way.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Verses 15-16

Paul doesn’t end this passage talking to the teachers in the church. He reminds us that we all have a responsibility to grow personally, and to build up the united body of believers. The whole body is held together by EVERY joint and equipped when EACH part is working properly.

I’ve had friends say to me, “I wish I could be as spiritual as you, teach as well as you, or do the things you do.” I would say the same to them. No gift is more necessary than any other in the church. God has prescribed that we all would help each other grow into maturity. I’ve had a chance to see this play out within our campus ministry. I’m very passionate in casting vision and looking to get people excited to accomplish a goal, but I am horrible in organizing that excitement into anything practical. I thank God for more practically, detail oriented minds who actually make things happen. I can bring up many scriptural passages to answer a theological question, but am not very good at caring for someone who’s hurting.

The church needs the business professionals, the doctors, the researchers, the early childhood educators, the artists and musicians, the philosophers, the psychologists, the librarians, etc. We all have something to teach each other, and what we have to teach is necessary in helping the church grow into maturity.

So yes, I probably would fail in the business world, but I’m not called to that. I’m called to run my race and learn what I can from the business professional and together, we equip the body of Christ to fulfill the mission that Christ has called us to.

 

Letter to Myself

Six months ago, I wrote a letter to myself. I was just finishing a mission trip in Uganda in which I learned so much about God and myself and about leadership. I’ve been blessed to read this letter and I hope it’s a blessing. Here are the things I thought would be important to remember…

Future Bim:

Around six months from the time I write this, you’ll be reading it. A lot will have changed, but not too much, I hope. Second semester will soon begin and with it, a new cycle of ministry. Here are some things I hope you have not forgotten, or if you have I hope to remind you. It’s God who qualifies and equips you for ministry. Regardless of how high or low you may feel, the biggest mistake you can make is trusting in your own strength. God has given you gifts. From a young age, we’ve known this and have had to always resist the temptation to rely and trust in those gifts. Yet God has blessed you to change the world by abiding in Him. Apart from Him, you can bear no fruit. The Spirit filled life is as necessary in your ministry as in your personal walk. As you lead in Power to Change and to seek to serve in church and to love the people in your life, abide in God and work by His Spirit and see what He will do. If by this time you’re in a relationship, that is another area to trust to God. I know my heart and it loves to create idols, yet God demands to be first. If not, praise God and seek to bring God praise in your singleness. Men are looking to you as an example in how to live sold out for God. That pressure is on your shoulders and it is much greater than you can handle. Only by God’s strength can you edify your disciples as you know God wants.

A couple of things to keep in mind: First, place a high value on spiritual multiplication. You’re leaving McMaster and many leaders with you. Ministry at McMaster will be continued by the younger men you have an impact on.  As much as it is in your power, make sure that they are equipped to serve the campus by bringing the gospel to those who haven’t heard. Give them opportunities to lead, teach them discipleship, cast the vision and begin to pull back and let them step up. There is so much potential and God has placed you in a position to help develop it.

Secondly, read the encouragement letters you received from Uganda. God taught you so much about leadership and those lessons are reflected in the praise you received from your staff and teammates. These letters can show you strengths you can continue to grow in and ways God wants you to lead. And when you’re down they can remind you that the work you do is appreciated.

Third, continue to be yourself in leadership. You are not Corey or Andres or Bahy or any of these men you look up to. You are Bimisayo. You have a personality given by God which He wants to use for the works He created you for. Feel free to laugh and joke and tease. Strive to include those who are feeling left out. Let people laugh at and with you. Use these gifts to bond with people so they can be more open as you seek to impart into them. Yet remain humble, don’t hog the spotlight or desire your own glory. Be glad to step up or step back as the Spirit leads and the situation determines. Seek opportunities to teach and always be ready to learn and to repent. Be a little impulsive but mostly wise in decision making. Most of all, love others more than yourself and always be ready, even joyful, to serve.

God will help you in all these things in Jesus name. Amen

Bimisayo Adeyi

Qualifications for Leadership

Reasons I’m not qualified to be a spiritual leader

  • I’m not diligent enough with my responsibilities in life
  • I’m not quick to spot or care for the needs of others
  • I often get more excited about football than spiritual matters
  • I speak before I think… often
  • I act before I think… often
  • I’m not a natural or passionate evangelist
  • I care too much about what people think about me
  • I let the slightest things affect my emotions
  • I judge people
  • I have too much confidence in my strengths
  • I take my weaknesses too seriously
  • I don’t want to deal with people’s emotions
  • I love being the center of attention
  • I sometimes don’t even want the responsibility of leadership

So then why do I keep seeking opportunities to lead?

  • Because God’s Word is showing me God’s nature daily (Revelation 4:8)
  • Because God’s Word is opening my eyes to my sin daily (Hebrews 4:12)
  • Because God’s Word is humbling me in God’s presence daily (James 4:6-10)
  • Because God’s Word is making me more holy daily (Psalm 119:9,11)
  • Because God’s Spirit is empowering me to be a witness (Acts 1:8)
  • Because God’s Spirit is helping me experience God’s love and forgiveness (Romans 8:1,2)
  • Because God’s Spirit has blessed me with spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-5,11)
  • Because God’s command is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19)
  • Because God’s command is to build up His body- the community of believers (Ephesians 4:11-13)
  • Because God`s command is to teach His Word (2 Timothy 4:1,2)
  • Because my sufficiency is not in myself, but in God working through me (2 Corinthians 3:5)