Building According To The Pattern Within

Solving The Identity Crisis And Eliminating Competition In Ministry

Abridged transcript of a message preached at the 1996 national ICFM conference in Auckland, New Zealand.

As believers in Christ we are called to help one another. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." ( Romans 12:5 ) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, we should serve one another. We are not called to compete with one another, we are called to complete one another. If we feel the need to compete in ministry something is wrong. I think a lot of competitiveness in life and ministry stems from our own sense of insecurity. We don't know who we are, so we try to pattern ourselves on those we admire and then we try to compete with them in our search for acceptance and affirmation. We inevitably fail in this endeavour and create for ourselves an even greater sense of insecurity. I have experienced much frustration as a believer - and especially in ministry - trying to sort through this identity crisis, "Who am I? Where do I fit? What am I supposed to be doing?"

In the early days I made the mistake of trying to build a ministry based on the role-model of a man I greatly admired and who had ordained me for the ministry. The only problem - I soon discovered - was that it was difficult to establish a ministry on another man's call. And then one day, after considerable soul-searching, the Holy Spirit gave me the answer and I heard Him laughing ( He laughs just like me!) as He said;

"You thought the answer was in a program, but it's not, it's in a person."

And then it suddenly dawned on me, when Jesus called me to the ministry it was me He had in mind when He called me. When Jesus spoke to Peter and told him that he would build His church on the Rock, He gave him a two-fold revelation of this foundation: firstly, it is the all important revelation of who Christ is and, secondly, it is a revelation of who we are. ("And you are Peter and upon this rock I will build ")

Christ, we know, is the anointing and Jesus said He would build His church and the ministries that operate in the church on this one thing - the anointing. Part of that anointing is the grace-gifting God has placed in your life. When you operate in a gifting that comes from heaven, God's anointing will flow through you. That is why it is so important for you to understand and know who you are and what the grace gifting in your life is, because Jesus said He was going to build His church on that and, I might add, it is the only thing the gates of hell will not prevail against. We are not to be misunderstood as saying we are building on ourselves, we are not. We are building on Christ - the anointed One and His anointing - and the heavenly grace gift He has deposited within us that accompanies our calling. We are totally dependent on Him in all we do.

Building According to the Pattern Within

We see a warning given in Hebrews 8: 5 that we are to "Make all things according to the pattern shown to us;" - this pattern that "Comes down out of heaven." (Revelation 3: 12). This is a unique identity that each one of us has in ministry, the name (or the identity, nature and substance) of which no one knows but he who receives it (Revelation 2: 17). This pattern we find within "for what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?" (1 Corinthians 2: 11).

Only you know the desires of your own human spirit and the things God has placed there. To follow the things of another is to miss the purpose for which you were uniquely created. The greatest mistake you'll ever make is to search for your significance in someone else.

Galatians 6: 3 says "Let each man examine his own works, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another."

Many people do not rightly discern the voice of their own spirit and are never happy in life because they are untrue to themselves. You find out what God has called you to do by tapping the resource of your own human spirit - that's where God is and that's where the pattern is. As the proverb says; "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." The plan is in the man.

There are times when we will be misunderstood - this is to be expected. Verse 15 of 1 Corinthians 2 says he who is spiritual judges correctly yet 'he himself is rightly judged by no one.' Only he knows his own identity; others can become aware of it, but only after he has declared it and made it known.

You may have had someone challenge you. If we are rooted in Christ we will not be intimidated by even the most severe challenges. Divine callings come with or without the sanctions of men, and the one who derives his authority from above will not be concerned with the opinions of others.

Let Us Labour According to the Grace of God Given

A final exhortation: Jesus said "I only do that which I see by revelation my Father doing." This will be in keeping with the grace gifting God has placed in our lives.

In 1 Corinthians 3: 10 Paul says "According to the grace of God given to me I have laid the foundation." If it's not in your spirit and part of the calling, there's no grace to perform the task and in your frustration you will build nothing but wood, hay and stubble. How many "pastors" have assumed the role of a counsellor to their people, only to discover they were not happy in that role and wasted valuable ministry years in frustration because they were not called or suited to the task. Verse eight in the same passage warns "Each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour." If you labour in another man's calling you will not receive a reward and your works will be burned.

By abiding in their grace-gifting and the Anointed One men cannot fail. Where men fail, it is men who fail; God does not fail. If they stayed in their grace-gifting they would succeed. Upon the anointing that operates through the grace-gifting of the one called, Jesus said He would build.

I have found two keys to building a successful ministry:
1. Find the anointing of God in your life.
2. Stay there.

Conclusion

Find out what you're good at, and do that. Leave everything else to someone else.
Be yourself - dare to be different - be bold and don't apologise!
When you don't know what to do, ask yourself the question, "What would I do in this situation?" Because whatever you would do is going to be the right thing to do because you're going to be the one doing it!

No one will preach like you, write books like you, sing like you, minister like you. Your uniqueness gives you value. No matter how small your part, it will have international repercussions because you're part of a Body that spans the globe.

Find out who God has made you to be, find the anointed pattern within, and let Him build your life and ministry.



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