By Joe McKeever
RIDGELAND, Miss. – “You shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things, for this is not my doing” (Numbers 16:28).
“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and I have done all these things at Your word” (I Kings 18:36).
What Moses and Elijah prayed, I pray.
It is entirely in order for the Lord’s messenger to pray that the people to whom he was sent will recognize that God is God and fully in charge, and that he himself is the Lord’s servant, on mission from Him.
During what was possibly the worst time of my life when a little group of self-righteous members clamored for my resignation and criticized every thing I did, that was my prayer. I was going through the fire, being tried as I rarely had.
The prayer felt like the dying gasp of the weakest child in God’s family. “Lord, let these people know there is a God in this place. And that I’m your servant, just doing your will.”
Did God hear the prayer? Did He answer?
I’m confident He did.
He heard and answered in His own way, and to the extent that pleased Him. And–don’t miss this–in His own time. (Not always in my time!)
That is not to say any of that bunch repented. I’m merely saying God showed up as Lord and that He blessed His servant. The rest we leave with Him.
That’s always the way. And it’s how we would want it if we had all the facts, knew the hearts of everyone involved, and understood the plans He has for each person.
It’s a general enough prayer–that God will show Himself to be Lord, and that He will make it plain that the messenger was sent by Him, that he is on an errand for Him, and doing His will.
Surely that’s not too much to ask.
At one time or other, every pastor–if he is blessed–will have people questioning his calling, doubting his message, disagreeing with his leadership. Blessed? Yes, indeed. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake…for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
To be sure, being vilified is no fun and no one is suggesting otherwise. But the Lord’s messenger should expect it and not think God has dropped the ball when He allows it.
Pastors, missionaries, and workers for the Lord of whatever variety would do well to read Matthew 10:16 regularly in order to keep their bearings and to counter the unrealistic expectation that everything will always go smoothly. Servants of God who serve well may expect opposition.
Expect it. Do not let it blindside you.
Buck Knight, the founder of Nike, Inc., says in his autobiography Shoe Dog that entrepreneurs have targets drawn on their backs. And the more successful one becomes, the bigger that target.
That is true of anyone who steps out from the crowd to give leadership and direction to a portion of them.
Let the pastor take note.
You will have opposition. You will receive criticism. You will become the target of rumors and accusations.
It goes with the territory.
When that happens, friend, drop to your knees and give thanks.
The pastor who is never questioned and never targeted for fiery arrows is probably not taking a strong-enough stand.
All who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). The veteran warrior who said that carried the scars and painful memories to back it up.
So, go ahead and pray that prayer. “Lord, let these people know You are God. And while You’re at it, let them know I’m your servant and that what I’m doing is in obedience to Thy command.”
Then, go do your job. Do not flinch, do not back down, and do not fear.
You are serving the living God. Act like it.
Joe McKeever is a retired pastor and a past director of the New Orleans Baptist Association. This editorial first appeared on his website.