You may have heard about the little boy who was sitting in a church service listening to his father preach when he leaned over to his mother, pulled on her dress to get her attention, and then whispered in her ear, “Mom, is dad preaching or is he telling the truth?” Even at a young age, the little boy had learned that, at times, preachers can “stretch” the truth a bit (especially when reporting how many people attended the church services).
Here’s a statement that makes its way into a lot of sermons. It’s not a new truth or revelation. The statement was made long before Jesus was born. It says:
“You will not succeed by your own strength or
by your own power, but by my Spirit,’
says the LORD All-Powerful.”
Zechariah 4:6 (New Century Version)
I’ll readily admit that it makes for good preaching material. For many preachers, all that they need to add is a little shout and some heavy breathing and the waving of a Bible and a congregation can get excited when the preacher quotes this verse. But, while it preaches good, I am like the little boy when he asked his mother, “Is Dad preaching or is he telling the truth?”
I know that what I’m sharing this week probably isn’t for you personally. It’s for the preacher/teacher up the road. But, just to appease me, let’s pretend that you might know what I am talking about. Let me acknowledge up front that that there are many, many leaders who are on their face before God seeking His guidance as they prepare to stand before the congregation. But, it is evident that there is a growing number of Pastors/youth pastors/children’s church leaders/Sunday school teachers/mid-week Bible club workers who have abandoned the “carpet time” and substituted internet time to gain the latest fad sermon series or thoughts on the hot new book making the rounds. Being still before God has been replaced by being still in a movie theater or watching television to become more relevant to today’s needs. Giftings, personality, and creativity are the bedrock to their pursuit for success. The “by my Spirit” is a small part of the equation if it is in the equation at all.
What defines your ministry? Come on. I’m Billy and I’m your friend. Talk back to your computer screen. I won’t tell anyone. To use the little boy’s analogy, it’s time for the truth. Is it “by your own strength or by your own power” or is it “by my Spirit”?
This ancient passage is still true today. If you want to succeed in God’s estimation, it only comes through His Spirit. So, with that in mind, my prescription to you is, take a daily dose of the “by my Spirit” found in Zechariah 4:6 for seven days and write me after next weekend’s service. I guarantee that there will be a marked difference when you follow the direction of the LORD All-Powerful.