1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
“Initiative” seems like one of those buzzwords that gets talked about a lot in the business world, but does it really have a place in this conversation about essential characteristics of a replanter? Isn’t initiative one of those things you either have or you don’t, determined solely by your personality profile? If you do a quick internet search for initiative in ministry, the most relevant results will be in job descriptions on various postings looking for pastors. However, doesn’t initiative point to human effort?
In this post, I will argue that initiative is a characteristic of any effective pastor, especially for replant pastors. Pastoral initiative is a passion that is rooted in biblical convictions and demonstrated in a bias for action.
This brand of initiative is built on at least four biblical convictions:
Conviction #1 – Jesus Has a Mission
Jesus, in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, came, and dwelt among man to make God known. Paul proclaims the preeminence of Christ so beautifully in Colossians 1:15-23. He emphasizes in v. 20 that through the power of Christ’s blood on the cross all things on heaven and earth will be reconciled to Him. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). The Lord established the church for this mission, “This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens” (Eph. 3:10).
Conviction #2 – Jesus Builds His Church
Jesus was clear when speaking with Peter in Matthew 16:18, when He said, “I will build my church.” Pastoral Initiative is not about a personal ambition but humility. Effective replanters echo the psalmist in Psalm 127:1 – “Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the LORD watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.” The effective replant pastor knows only God gives growth and that, like Paul and Apollos, he is nothing (1 Cor. 3:5-8).
Conviction #3 – Jesus Has Given Us a Mission
Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a job in His mission. While we were still sinners, hostile enemies against Him, He died for us. Through the power of the cross, He reconciles us to Himself. “Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). He has given us His message of reconciliation, and He has charged us to take this good news to the ends of the earth and across the street.
Conviction #4 – Jesus Calls Us to Hard Work
The principles of hard work, diligence and avoiding laziness are ubiquitous in Proverbs. The word of God is clear that we should be people of action. Faith has feet. Jesus’ half-brother James exhorts his readers to be doers not just hearers of the word (James 1:22-25) because faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). Paul says we should honor those who work hard in preaching and teaching (1 Tim. 5:17). Effective replanters are not merely self-motivated hard workers. They are gospel-motivated under-shepherds who feel the weight of that responsibility and opportunity.
Pastoral grit is about finishing well. Pastoral initiative is about not waiting to start. Let’s get to work! What are you waiting for?
Published February 19, 2021