Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Confidence in Ministry

Benedicta Preaching in Africa

by Dennis Pollock

If you take it seriously, ministry can be a fearful thing. Even the apostle Paul spoke of being with the Corinthians “in fear and trembling.” Most of us who preach or teach can identify. There are a great many factors working against us, particularly when we are deliberately attempting to turn unbelievers into believers, through the business we call evangelism. But even more simple ministry efforts can be intimidating. In one poll the fear of public speaking was rated as the number one fear, even above the fear of death. The idea of speaking for thirty to forty minutes, attempting to make a significant difference in people’s lives or elevate them through our stumbling, faltering, always imperfect oratory can be depressing. The great “prince of preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, used to become physically ill just before preaching. Of course there are always those folks who love to hear themselves speak and never truly evaluate their own impact, who can get through teachings, sermons, or addresses without the slightest fear or hesitation. But for thinking people who really want to make a difference, ministry can be a fearful business.

Those who have experienced the anointing of the Holy Spirit on their efforts face a special challenge. One might suppose that “anointed” preachers, teachers, or ministers in any area should be the most confident of all, and there is no doubt that anointing can bring supreme confidence in ministry, when it is rich and abundant. But the problem with such anointings is that frequently they come in different measures, and sometimes seem to be almost entirely absent. And having been anointed on previous occasions makes it all the more depressing in those times when the anointing is conspicuously missing. You may fool your audience to some degree, but you know the difference. Anointing-free ministry, regardless of the talent that may be present, is an ugly thing.

African Missions

The African missions that I do can be particularly intimidating. There is an emotional buildup in the months of planning and preparation which precedes the actual meetings. Large amounts of money must be raised and spent. Much prayer and thought goes on long before we ever get to our ministry location in Africa. A long, grueling series of flights adds more pressure and thought to the occasion. At last I arrive, never knowing just how the meetings will go. How many people will attend? What kind of anointing will I experience? How will the people respond to the ministry? What impact will there be on the community? How much involvement and participation will we receive from our coordinating pastors? So many questions waiting to be answered and revealed over the next few days!

Knowing that people have sacrificed their hard-earned money to send us halfway across the world adds weight and pressure as well. If I were a rich man with unlimited money, sponsoring the meetings myself, it would be a lot easier, from a pressure standpoint. But I am going on behalf of people, many of whom I have never met, who have sent money to our ministry which they no doubt could have used for comforts and needs in their own lives. Instead they sent that money to us. And on top of everything else, there is that constant source of tiredness that comes with the jet lag, and the necessity of having to be up and working the day after we arrive, in a time zone six, eight, or twelve hours ahead of our own. This kind of ministry is not for the faint in heart, and not especially easy for someone like me, with my love for keeping everything orderly and working smoothly. Things rarely go that way.

Carrying on in a spirit of confidence is not easy, but there are some secrets I have learned and come to depend upon, which I would like to share with you. Even though most of you will never preach in African crusades and minister in African conferences, in truth these secrets will work for any Christian ministry, from the Sunday School class to the home group meeting, from talking to a neighbor about Jesus to having a conversation with your seven-year-old son or sixteen-year-old daughter about the Lord. These are the reasons why, despite all the difficulties and pressures I have enumerated, I can approach these African missions with confidence, time after time and year after year.

God's Love

The first reason I have for confidence is perhaps my most favorite reason of all: I have confidence in the love of God for the people to whom I hope to minister. Sometimes in evangelistic or other ministry efforts, we have the mentality that we want to see these people saved, or encouraged, or taught, or blessed, but God… not so much! So we have to plead with and beg God, and wrestle with Him in desperate prayer, and somehow twist His mighty arm until He finally agrees, albeit reluctantly, to do that which our compassionate hearts want Him to do. Such thinking, whether subconscious or conscious, is an affront to our loving Creator. In truth God loves the people to whom we would minister far more than we.

If we have any desire at all for them to be saved or blessed, it is only because God has placed a miniscule drop of His love for them in our hearts. We care because He cares more; we desire their good with our spoonful of love because God passionately wants to bless them out of His ocean of love. And the more we see this the easier it is to pray with faith and expect that our ministry efforts will be met with success. The Bible says, “We have known and believed the love that God has for us” (1 John 4:16). In the case of African missions, I often feel a tremendous love for the African people and a sense of how very much God loves them and wants them blessed, happy, saved, healed, and whole. And in my prayer times for the missions, I let that love be a foundation for my faith and a source of my confidence in the ultimate success of the meetings. I go to Africa expecting to succeed, not because I am so talented, or such a superior speaker, preacher, or teacher, but because God is such a superior lover of the African people that even people with mediocre gifts and flawed personalities like me can make a huge difference as they go in the name of Jesus and depend upon His strength, ability, and love.

The Promise of the Spirit

A second reason I go to Africa with confidence is my trust in the Holy Spirit and in the promises of Jesus about the Holy Spirit. He told those first disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high, and declared, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Our Lord has promised us that those who believe in Him would experience rivers of life-giving, refreshing, healing, waters flowing out from them. The condition is the simplest possible condition: believing on Jesus. In younger ministry years I used to beg God for the anointing, often in tones that reflected more unbelief than anything else. It was as though I was saying, “Oh God, I know you don’t want to anoint me. I know you don’t really want this at all, but I am begging you, please squeeze out a few drops of anointing for me, so that I won’t be a complete failure in ministry.”

Those days have ended. I still pray for anointing, but these days it is more a declaration of confidence in His promises rather than begging for something I suspect He really doesn’t want to give. These days I say something like, “Lord Jesus, I thank you for your promise that those who believe in you will have rivers of living water flowing out from them. And I do believe in You, and therefore I thank you that those rivers will flow today or in this series of meetings.” And sure enough, as I abide in Jesus, that anointing usually does show up and people do get blessed, helped, and saved.

The Word of God


Another reason for confidence in ministry is the confidence I have in the power, value, and efficacy of the Word of God. I have come to recognize that God’s word works – it is effective and it produces good results when used properly.

Many years ago, when I was still fairly young in ministry, I awoke one morning with a vivid recollection of a strange dream. In this dream I was a student in a classroom with many other students. As with so many classrooms there was a chalkboard at the front, and standing at the chalkboard teaching the class was Billy Graham. I instinctively sensed that God was trying to tell me something through the dream, and concluded that He wanted me to study Billy Graham’s ministry, to become, in a sense, a student of Billy Graham, the evangelist. For the next year I did exactly that. I listened constantly to Billy Graham’s sermons, some repeatedly. I attended a conference he held especially for evangelists and read books by him and about him. For about one year I became a sort of Billy Graham fanatic. These were the days when cassette tapes ruled, and I nearly wore out my tape player listening to this master-evangelist. Finally, after about a year that obsession seemed to lift, and I put the tapes and books away, and tried to apply what I had learned.

Time does not permit me to share all the insights I gained in that year save one, one that is exceedingly simple but profoundly powerful. Billy Graham depended upon the power of the word of God in his preaching. In any Billy Graham sermon, you will hear Billy say again and again, “The Bible says…” “The Bible says…” “The Bible says…” In one talk he made to evangelists he declared his confidence in the Scriptures, saying, “When I get up to preach, if I quote the Scriptures and preach the gospel, I don’t have any doubts… I know people are going to come to Jesus.”

Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word!” The word of God has power in itself, so that even on days when we may not feel the most anointed or especially spiritual, if we can at least share a lot of the word of God, good things will result. In evangelistic efforts, this must include the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is a subset of the entire Scriptures. It is not enough simply to quote quite a few random Scriptures. At some point, if we are trying to convert a mass of sinners, a handful of sinners, or just one sinner, we are going to have to speak of Jesus, His life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead, and then declare that we can be born again through faith in Him. This is the gospel, which is the minimum information one needs in order to be turned from darkness to light, to come into a relationship with God through His Son Jesus, and receive eternal life.

Called by God

And finally, I have confidence in God’s calling on my life. I minister in Africa, not because I think Africa is a colorful and exotic place and it makes an interesting change of pace for me. I go to Africa and preach to and teach the Africans because I am supposed to do that – I would be sinning if I did not go to Africa. When I step up on that creaky platform on those humid African nights and start preaching to all those gathered in the field before me, I know that I am, at that moment, right where I am supposed to be, doing precisely what I am supposed to do. I may not have a voice like Billy Graham, I may not get the crowds of hundreds of thousands as Reinhard Bonnke has, but in my own small way I belong behind that homemade wooden pulpit just as much as they ever did behind their pulpits. Jesus Christ, the head of the church, has ordained that I preach to the Africans, and it is only reasonable to suppose that if He has called me to do this, I can expect good fruit from it. I will do my part and He will do His. Jesus is no Pharaoh, demanding that the Israelites make bricks without giving them the necessary straw.

In any endeavor, confidence is vastly superior to no confidence, and in the things of God, confidence in God’s love, God’s word, Christ’s gospel, and His calling on your life will open doors, release God’s power, and bring about good success in all the work of your hands.


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