Reaching Beyond Greatness

Dear Fellow Young Minister,

Recently I’ve been reexamining a question we contemplated a few years ago. The question of “What are we supposed to be?”. At the time, we were tossed between the secular and spiritual and seeking direction through the fog of adolescence. Despite the ambiguity, we were able to hear the consistent, calm but compelling voice of God calling us to be, APOSTOLIC. Hence forth, from every camp meeting, HYC, every young ministers’ session we could attend, we attempted to fashion our lives after what it took to be “apostolic”. Shockingly, in recent months, after obtaining a portion of what we’ve sought. I find myself unsatisfied with what I have. Nothing brings us to a place of self-evaluation than when we reached for our dreams and only awaken to a sad reality. This reality put me on a quest to sort out the truths on what it meant to be apostolic. 

 In an altar late at night, finally moving beyond my pompous state of prayer, God was able to move through my brokenness and speak to me. The same voice of God that called me, began to explain the call. I’m beginning to listen not only for the call but for the explanation. His words to me were, “Benjamin, you’ve confused being “apostolic” for being great!”. Taken aback, I restated the comment to myself attempting to internalize it. Realizing I needed more information I asked Him, “What do you mean?” Now, before I get into the answer, I want to get into the misconception of what I, and possibly you’ve defined as “apostolic”.

Thru the camp meetings, and HYC’s, and young minister sessions, we unintentionally were given a perspective that only highlighted the glory of the apostles, but not the fundamentals of an apostolic. It was the lame leaping, Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost, Paul’s garment being used as the item to perform “special miracles”. Though these things were great and show that being apostolic necessitates spiritual demonstration. It only highlighted the results, not giving credence and explanation to the root. Because of this there was a misappropriation of priorities, seeking apostolic results without solidifying apostolic root, I was indelibly going to feel unsatisfied and disappointed.

I mistakenly saw the platform on which the apostles stood on and perceived THAT to be the determining factor for being apostolic. Because I correlated their platform with apostolic success, was there any reason for me not to pursue just that, a platform? Though my platform was not built upon oratorical skills and flashy puppeteering – excuse me, pulpiteering; it contained elements of the gifts of the Spirit and powerful demonstration of God. Though these things weren’t wrong, it seemed to be that the person who got the most attention in these spiritual exploits and aspiration was me, not God. Might I insert that platforms that exploit the work of the Cross are far more displeasing to God than platforms that entertain crowds. I had to realize that the apostles’ platform didn’t make them apostolic, but rather THEY made the platform in which they stood apostolic.

Now back to my answer. It came from considering the first time in which the disciples transitioned from being just disciples, to apostles. The apostles were first called apostles before the book of Acts. This made me look beyond the historic narrative of Acts, forcing me to look within the gospels for an answer. The search led me to Mark 3:13-15. It was here that I was able to realize the process that transitioned the disciples from average to apostolic. Before Jesus ever installed them as apostles, the Bible records that He (Jesus) called them (the disciples) unto Himself. It was here that I found the foundational point for being apostolic. We have to acknowledge that our first call is to Him. They were called to Him, then sent into the field. Their identity was wrapped around relationship and obedience. They were apostolic before the results came. Why? Because their apostolic identity was in direct relation to their relationship and obedience. Jesus called them to Himself. In doing so, He could send them out into the world.

 I looked at their results and gave that as the definition of what it meant to be apostolic. But what made the apostles the apostles was that they could follow Jesus and be obedient to His voice. Imagine if Stephen misconceived his call to be “apostolic” as a call to be “great”? What if his standard of apostolic was ours? Would he still be willing to be obedient to the Holy Ghost and preach a message that would end his ministry? A message that couldn’t be retweeted because there were no “HG’s” or “H2O’s”, but just simple obedience. Our standard of apostolic gives room to preach messages that creates more opportunity. The only motive of Stephen’s message was that he was determined to be submitted to the leading of Jesus. How different would things be if Stephen sought to be great and not apostolic? What would Paul’s journey look like? Stephen understood that he was apostolic because he walked with Jesus and was obedient to His voice.

That night when God readjusted my definition of “apostolic”, it did something for me. I stopped seeking a platform of greatness, rather I sought for His presence. I realized that I felt validated by miracles, signs, and wonders, rather than by my obedience. The relief that followed this change in thinking, was beyond words. I was released from the pressure of performing and was granted access into fellowship with His presence. Friend, my challenge to you is to ask yourself are you attempting to be great or apostolic? If the former is your reality, in love I ask that you let the shackle of production go to grasp the hand seeking relationship, and truly become biblically apostolic.

Anointed or Talented?

Fellow Young Minister,

I desire to be effective in God’s kingdom. I want to grow in Him, too. But, I have noticed that certain people and ministries receive a lot of attention because of something called talent.

Now, I know that Jesus said we would receive talents and be wise to invest in them (Matthew 25:14-30). We will bare record to the Lord about our occupation with His kingdom. Although, with microphone-based ministries, like singer or preacher, the talented receive quite some press. If we were honest, we would hopefully say the talented need no repentance to be talented; for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). But why the press? The cheer and jeer? I mean, it’s not a sin to be excited about talent, I get it. But I get this feeling sometimes that the talented are misrepresented as the anointed. I have heard that talented folks have gone shipwreck because they became entitled with their gifting, confusing man’s attention for God’s approval. It taught me that while some have the attention, it does not mean they have the anointing.

Paul made it very clear that preaching isn’t a flow of ministry made effective by intellectualism, philosophies, and jargon (1 Corinthians 2:4, Colossians 2:8). Yet, it was made effective through God’s power, demonstration, and kingdom. I would imagine that singing would function similarly. People would experience God’s righteousness, peace, and joy through song and lyric, not so much via vocal roller coaster (Romans 14:17). Yet, it perpetuates as a legitimate temptation for many involved in microphone-involved ministries. I would contend it’s because of a culture of celebrity-ism that can creep into our circles.

It can be frustrating. But, it has allowed me to gather a greater sense of appreciation for the anointing of God and anointed people. You know what it’s like. One person is projecting these wild illustrations and colorful displays of intellect, while the other preaches a glory cloud upon the soul. Or, one singer belts their runs and turns as smooth as cursive calligraphy, while the other invokes a path to liberty at the feet of Jesus. It is a crucial thing to be able to identify between talent and the anointing. God help us.

But, I have found this to be a double edged sword. While it is quite evident that the talented can fall short of pleasing God, so can the anointed. I am reminded that Saul, the anointed of God, also displeased our Lord (1 Samuel 24-27). David, too. Likewise, I too, being anointed, have displeased the Lord before. John said the people of God have the anointing (1 John 2:20, 27). But we can get this big head, you know? Still, I have erred on the side of fear of failure and pride because of it – this is not the will of God. One day, the Lord gave me this thought to consider, “A submitted person with a spiritual revelation is dangerous to the kingdom of darkness. But how much more dangerous is an unsubmitted person with much spiritual revelation, to himself?” It struck me that growing in anointing, still, was not the complete path to pleasing God.

I remember your words today. You said in 2019, you were focusing on becoming the COMPLETE man, where the supernatural was just something that was normal in everyday life, but the pique of your existence was your relationship with Jesus Christ. That really impacted me. The Lord put this in me in addition, “Anointed or talented? Neither are enough. But to be Christ-like, is worth it all.”

We could gain the whole world, by talent or even anointing, and still lose our soul. Seeing that we also, could never gain Christ and gain the whole world, we strive to just win Christ (Philippians 3:8). Truly, our prize is not heaven. Our prize is Jesus Christ. We are His bride and He is our groom. What more of a win, than the winsome King who robed Himself in a humble servant, and died for us on a cross? To be resurrected so that we could experience the same.

I will pursue Him in 2019. I will walk with Him in 2019. I must say it that way, because my wants fluctuate because of my frail frame. He is mine and I am His. I cannot even say I am indebted to Him, because He plainly and biblically owns me (1 Corinthians 6:20). What Scripture does show me, is that I am indebted to OTHERS, in showing them whom I belong to (Romans 1:14).

So, talented or anointed? Neither are enough. But to be like Jesus, is worth it all.

Happy New Year, my friend. Let us be complete in Him.