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Teaching the Word

Teaching the Word
Words of Faith 6-21-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 18
[11] So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

A year and a half. Eighteen months. In most modern situations, we would view such a short tenure of ministry as a failure. It is often noted negatively that the average tenure of a pastor in America is only 3 years and for a youth pastor just 18 months. Modern consultants teach that nothing is accomplishing a congregation in less than 4 year and that 7 is an ideal target. So Paul was a failure, right?
Actually, this stay in Corinth was one of Paul's longest tenures, second only to the three years that he stayed in Ephesus. The reality is that a great deal can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time if it is God directed and empowered.
The key to an effective short tenure is probably based in the gifting of the minister and in the anticipated goal.
Paul was actually an Apostle. Though he could be pastoral, his calling was not to be a pastor. He was an Evangelist who gift it was to carry the Gospel across cultural barriers, specifically from a Jewish context into a Gentile context. His teaching gift was larger than any local ministry. Just look at the fact that we are studying and discussing his ministry and letters to this day! So tenure was irrelevant.
Paul also knew from day one that he would not be staying in any one place very long. In fact, he had learned that at any moment he could be called to another place or violently driven out of town. He worked and taught with an intensity that we probably cannot imagine.
Today, congregations and boards are rightly concerned with the long term health of pastors and ministry staff. Days off are essential. Vacation time is important. Continuing education provides necessary recharging. It is even common for pastors to take an extended sabbatical for study and reflection about every 7 years. These are the ingredients that keep pastors and staff from burning out.
But it is almost humorous to contemplate what Paul might have been doing "on his day off". Or to ask the topic of his last continuing education event. Or inquire as to his vacation plans.
Paul was wired for an intensity of ministry that we would find difficult if not impossible to understand. There was a sense of desperation in ministry of Paul as he realized more and more that his days were numbered and his impact was destined to be quite different than anyone else in history.
So… eighteen months with the Apostle Paul might be measured quite differently. Like eighteen years with any other skilled teaching pastor. The key thing was that Paul stayed in one place as long as the Lord directed and allowed.
Sadly, the ministry "business models" of our modern churches attempt to predict and measure the optimum tenure of a pastor, teacher, or missionary. But the reality is that God is able to do exactly what He wants to do in the amount of time that He has planned. Age is irrelevant. Time available is not important. The Lord may accomplish His goals in 18 months, 18 years, or many decades. Our job is to submit to Him and seek to understand what He is doing.

Father God, I pray for blessing in my place of learning and study, worship and fellowship. If I need to be more engaged, please show me. If I need to apply myself more intently, please let me know. Show me all that You desire to accomplish in the time that You have determined. May my ear and heart be always listening for the direction of your Spirit. In Jesus' Name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.