Day two of the North Carolina Baptist Pastor’s Conference Nov. 7 featured powerful sermons and exhortations from God’s Word.
Clayton King, founder and president of Crossroads Worldwide, used 1 Kings 19 to illustrate how pastors can navigate both the highs and lows in pastoral ministry. “It’s a real short walk from your highest point to your lowest,” he said. “Victory makes us vulnerable; weakness makes us strong.”
King talked about a number of things pastors can do to maintain balance in ministry. For example, he encouraged pastors to take guilt free vacations every year, and to get away from the pressures of ministry on a regular basis for their spiritual and physical well being, as well as for the benefit of spending uninterrupted time with family.
He then taught on the importance of following the example of Jesus Christ in regards to spending time each day in fellowship with God. “Follow the example of Jesus,” King said. “If Jesus had to maintain his relationship with God, how can we think we are any better?”
Larry Wynn, vice president of evangelism with the North American Mission Board, followed King with a message from Matthew 9:35-38. Wynn told pastors that success in ministry starts with prayer and compassion directed toward the people in their communities.
“We need to pray for a labor force that will penetrate lostness where God has placed us,” he said. “We must see people the way Jesus sees them. We must lead our churches to see people through the eyes of Jesus Christ.”
Wynn said Jesus Christ gives believers the perfect example to follow in order to reach the lost, and if pastors are serious about reaching the unreached in their communities, they must be willing to reach out to those who are hurting. “What moved Jesus ought to move us,” Wynn said. “He was moved by the world’s pain and sadness.”
The morning session concluded with a message from John Bisagno, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Bisagno drew from his more than 35 years in full-time pastoral ministry as he shared 12 disciplines for a blessed ministry. He said of all the traits a pastor should possess, integrity and humility are two of the most important.
“Integrity is paramount,” Bisagno said. “You do what people would expect you to do when no one is looking or taking notes.”
Speaking on humility, Bisagno reminded the audience that pride comes before the fall. “You better be careful how you treat people on the way up because you will meet them on the way back down,” he said.
Conference attendees participated in a question and answer session with Wynn and Bisagno, with most questions focused on the differences between church planting and church revitalization.
Wynn said although church planting and church revitalization are equally important, it is time to increase training in church revitalization.
Bisagno, who also serves as adjunct faculty with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said more than 80 percent of his students do not want to take a pastorate at an established church. Yet, Bisagno said the most important thing is for a pastor to serve where God wants him to serve. “God has to do the calling,” he said.
David Dykes, senior pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, preached the final sermon of the conference. Dykes spoke on the topic of overcoming discouragement in ministry, based on Exodus 15: 19-27.
Drawing from Moses’ experience with the grumbling Israelites at Marah, Dykes said criticism is part of ministry. “If you’re in the ministry, you are a target for criticism,” he said.
Dykes added that pastors can use criticism as an opportunity for spiritual growth when they learn to take it to the Lord in prayer. “Whenever you are criticized, think about the abuse that was leveled upon the Lord Jesus Christ,” Dykes said. “When you take His suffering and baptize it in your bitterness, then it’s not so bad after all.”
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