A mark of a true disciple of Jesus is humility, when one recognizes that without Jesus we are nothing. This is why I am a firm believer that God seldom calls us to our strength but often uses our weaknesses. When we use our strengths for God we are tempted to accept the honour and glory for it. After all, it was us who put the effort into becoming great at what we do. However, when God uses our weaknesses there is no doubt about who is at work and he receives all the honour and glory.
When a man goes to seminary and studies hard; when he learns the art of communication; when he learns to be a good manager of people, we can say that he is a talented and skilled pastor. We may be entertained by his preaching and impressed by his leadership skill. We may even brag about that talented man and convince others that they should come and listen to him, he's that good. But when a plumber or fisherman or even a tax collector stands up and presents the Word the Spirit has put on his heart and the fire falls upon the place and the presence of God overwhelms, and sinners fall to their knees and saints raise their hands in adoration, we know it is God who is at work. We are missing that in the Church today, when the emphasis is put on the leadership of the Spirit instead of the leadership of man. That takes humility to stand before the people, to recognize that you are nothing without Christ and then to step aside to allow the Spirit to have his way.
John was asked about Jesus because his disciples noted that the whole world seemed to be chasing after Jesus. Of course if you were the disciple of a great man of God you would want the world to know it and so it was not an odd remark to make, according to the world. Look at John's reply just for a moment:
“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:29-30)
There a few nuggets of gold we should take from this. First of all, a man can only receive what is given him from heaven. A person cannot choose their calling for themselves. They can't look at a pastor and say I want to be that. If we do, then we are fakes and anything we do is counterfeit to the genuine. The anointing does not come from talents and skills but instead from the hand of God.
Second we should note that the bride belongs to the bridegroom. Pastors and elders especially need to note this. We are only servants to the Groom and we serve him by serving the Bride, the Church. She does not belong to us and we do not possess her. We need humility to stay in a proper relationship with the Bride and Groom. But this also should be a warning for those who would break fellowship with the Church and speak badly of her. Even in all her imperfections she is the beloved of the Groom and she must be treated with love and respect.
Third, those who attend to the Groom do not take their joy from the Bride but from the Groom. In our modern day love affair with weddings it is the bride who takes center place and the whole day revolves around her. The groom just seems to be an accessory to make her look good. Yet, in Jesus' parables about the wedding it is the groom who took the priority. He was the one in the position of authority. It was for him that the people waited. As beautiful as she is, the Church cannot become the focus and purpose of our life. Our joy and purpose is found in the Groom, and we serve him by serving the Church.
The last thing to note is that we are only here to serve, not to bring attention or glory to ourselves. Everything that we are and do must reflect Jesus. John said that Jesus had to become greater and he had to become less. John was unique in that he was the forerunner for the Messiah, the one who had the responsibility to prepare the way. For a while he had the main stage, the whole nation sought him out. All the focus had been on him. With us it is a little bit different, in that when we are called Jesus is already the center piece of attention. We have to insure that we do not take any of the attention away from him. We too must allow Jesus to become greater in our lives and we must become less in order that we only reflect Jesus and take no glory for ourselves. It is so easy to serve the Church in the natural especially if you have people skills, but we must serve in the Spirit and often serve in the areas of our weakness.
We have become very professional in the Church, requiring all of the pastors to have great education, titles behind their names and to be more like businessmen than great spiritual leaders. We want academics behind the pulpit, especially young and hip academics. We are great managers and poor vessels of the anointed power of God. We have great orators and communicators but very few anointed ministers. I believe we need to get back to that humble place of the anointing of God, where fisherman, plumbers, doctors and lawyers or whoever it might be, will rise up in the anointing of God, so that the Groom is glorified as he needs to be. We need to become less and Jesus must become greater, in order that the world would see Jesus glorified instead of intelligent and skilled men.
**Note: I am not dismissing the place of education. I am advocating the thought that education should not be the determining factor of the calling of God. Whether a person be an academic, or a tradesman should have no bearing on the recognition of the calling and anointing of God. We need more men who are humble enough to set aside their skills and allow the Spirit to take the lead.