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BUT WHAT ABOUT US?

by David Wells

If married, it could save your life, marriage and ministry to have a mutual understanding regarding the privilege of calling and the joy of servanthood. A shared understanding regarding the purpose to which we are individually and mutually called by God is essential for longevity in ministry.
Those of us who provide leadership of churches and ministries understand that we are responsible for the stewardship of resources associated with those ministries. Funds need to be raised, volunteers need to be equipped, and materials and equipment need to be available. If you are like me, a lot of time, energy and prayer go into caring for these aspects of ministry.

The reality is that there is a critical area of stewardship which often gets addressed as an afterthought rather than a priority issue. What about the stewardship of our own resource base so we have what we need to lead with strength and competence? The question becomes What about us? Who ensures that we are adequately resourced for the calling and responsibilities we carry?

At this point I am going to wade into a potentially tricky conversation. From my years of serving my friends and peers in ministry, I have noted an interesting phenomenon. Those who tend to make “taking care of me” a priority rarely last long term in ministry. At times the pattern arises—when inner reserves are running low spiritually, emotionally and relationally— to begin thinking that the whole solution is to take more time for myself or for “us.” The challenge is that “more time” and focusing on “me” or “us” alone rarely leads to the kind of deeply rooted replenishment and ongoing strength that is needed.

Don’t get me wrong: clarity about rest, spiritual renewal, and family time is a critical priority. But there is a subtle danger to attitude that can take place when those considerations turn to self-protection and, at times, self-absorption. Perhaps we need to re-engage the teaching of Scriptures and renew our understanding of what being a steward of our personal resources looks like in order to have an enduring, meaningful life of impact for the kingdom. Here are a couple of applications I have made with my wife, Susan, of some biblical principles related to replenishing personal resources.

Nothing compensates in resourcing the stockpiles of our lives more than “delighting to do His will.”
This truth is conveyed by an incident in Jesus’ ministry (John 4:31-34).
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”


In Pentecostal leadership we have always valued “calling.” It is that inner sense of God’s purpose for us, and His passion, strength and direction that fuel us and allow us to persevere through thick and thin. If that is not stirred up and active, nothing else will compensate—not even pay increases, an extra week of vacation or a sabbatical.

I realize there are reams of writing regarding the danger of “burning out” in the name of ministry or calling. There is a lot of wisdom in those writings. My focus, however, is on the other side of the discussion. Nothing keeps you alive, fresh and motivated like living at the heart of your calling as you pursue the vision and work that God has purposed for you. To be able every day to say genuinely, “I delight to do His will” and “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” goes a long way towards having the inner strength necessary to face the spiritual, relational and emotional challenges that will inevitably come. This leads to the next observation.

No one who has faithfully, effectively served Jesus for a lifetime has done so without comprehending Jesus’ example of servanthood.
Jesus did not use false advertising or manipulation to land us in roles of spiritual leadership. In the Gospels, and later amplified in the Epistles, it is clear that to be a follower of Jesus in a leadership function is not first about personal satisfaction or convenience. Those looking for a lifestyle of status or entitlement need not apply.

To be the servant of all, humbly emptying oneself, laying down one’s life—this is the language of Jesus and the New Testament. When one captures the joy of serving, of equipping others so they succeed, of laying our lives down so the next generation can build on our foundations, we realize what Jesus spoke of. We are replenished by the blessing of giving and the joy of servanthood.

If married, it could save your life, marriage and ministry to have a mutual understanding regarding the privilege of calling and the joy of servanthood. A shared understanding regarding the purpose to which we are individually and mutually called by God is essential for longevity in ministry. An active schedule, the house regularly full of people, the abundance of calls and messages, and responding to sudden needs are all realities of ministry life and things we could easily resent. There are many authors who tell you how to set priorities and establish boundaries. I’m here to say—in the midst of all those voices—don’t miss the clarion voice of Jesus. He renews those who abide in Him, who do His will, and who joyfully embrace being servants of all. It may be that the main way to protect ourselves from an empty soul or burned-out inner reserves is not rooted in our culture’s way of escape or renewal. Perhaps it lies instead in recapturing the core of our call to Christ and to one another.
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DAVID WELLS is the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
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