We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness (Matt. 18:3); there is no professional tenderheartedness (Eph. 4:32); there is no professional panting after God (Ps. 42:1).
But our first business is to pant after God in prayer. Our business is to weep over our sins (James 4:9). Is there professional weeping?
Our business is to strain forward to the holiness of Christ and the
prize of the upward call of God (Phil. 3:14); to pummel our bodies
and subdue them lest we be cast away (1 Cor. 9:27); to deny ourselves
and take up the blood-spattered cross daily (Luke 9:23). How do you
carry a cross professionally? We have been crucified with Christ, yet
now we live by faith in the one who loved us and gave Himself for us
(Gal. 2:20). What is professional faith?
We are to be filled not with wine but with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
We are God-besotted lovers of Christ. How can you be drunk with
Jesus professionally? Then, wonder of wonders, we were given the gospel
treasure to carry in clay pots to show that the transcendent power
belongs to God (2 Cor. 4:7). Is there a way to be a professional clay pot?
We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not
driven to despair, persecuted but not destroyed, always carrying in the
body the death of Jesus (professionally?) so that the life of Jesus may
also be manifested (professionally?) in our bodies (2 Cor. 4:9–11).
I think God has exhibited us preachers as last of all in the world.
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but professionals are wise. We are weak,
but professionals are strong. Professionals are held in honor, we are in
disrepute. We do not try to secure a professional lifestyle, but we are
ready to hunger and thirst and be ill-clad and homeless. When reviled,
we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate;
we have become the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all
things (1 Cor. 4:9–13). Or have we?
Brothers, we are not professionals! We are outcasts. We are aliens
and exiles in the world (1 Pet. 2:11). Our citizenship is in heaven, and
we wait with eager expectation for the Lord (Phil. 3:20). You cannot
professionalize the love for His appearing without killing it. And it is