February 9, 2021
“Get right! Get Ready! Get in!” That exclamatory phrase was the tag line we used for encouraging the discipleship of the saints. The phrase is a consolidation of three important steps each new believer should take: Receive Jesus, His free gift of life and Justification by faith (get right); engage in discipleship training by studying the Scripture and exercising other spiritual disciplines in the context of an objective environment (get ready); be fruitful by serving at some capacity (get in). These simple steps (among others) are the best route to lead all believers into becoming the competent disciples that they have been called to be. As pastors and leaders of churches and/or ministries, it lies upon us to encourage and develop competent ministers, thus we must ourselves be competent.
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
Competence in the Greek is rendered as Hikanotés. It means “ability and sufficiency.” The modern English adds, “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.” The Apostle Paul is making clear that our competence is from God. We must make no mistake that competence in our distribution of the New Covenant teaching is a must. It is safely assumed that every pastor at any capacity is engaged in increasing their competencies as a pastor and teacher. We must be prepared to answer the questions on every platform that we stand on and role we engage in. We don’t have to have all of the answers, but we need to have answers and we definitely need to at minimum be familiar with the questions.
In the early grace - God gives us a Word and causes us to be “successful and effective” when all we have is a little bread and the fish is few. That is to say that the Lord increases us with revelation and rhema in the introductory stages of our calling. However, we must, through diligence move into the grace of special and continuous revelations. We must mature into the width, depth and height of the Word. It is upon every minister to fill their deposit, acquire insights and strengthen their grasp and articulation of the Word of God.
Here are five helpful points that will guide you into fulfilling the calling of Scriptural competence:
One of the smartest and dumbest things that I have said in regard to my discipleship walk is, “I don’t need any other book. I have the Bible.” It’s smart because it is true, the Bible is All Sufficient. It is the dumbest, because I was too arrogant to realize that God has touched the heart and minds of many of His people and has inspired them to write. I was okay with missing out. Since my late 20’s I have been building my library. Building a library is a very important part of increasing in competence. We must first understand that the books don’t confirm the Bible, rather the Bible confirms the books. However, the good books written by anointed men and women will increase our insights and help us build upon the elementary principles as we continuously transition into the solid foods.
A library is not built overnight. It is built a sermon, teaching and personal inquiry at a time. So, you don’t have to go out and spend 1,000’s of dollars on resources, but as you progressively grow, let your library grow with you (or vice versa).
“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15)
The Word instructs us to read the word diligently. A competent leader is reading for insights and improvement at least 3 times a week (this is a low threshold). The Word of God is life and the primary source of our revelation. The Word alone can produce a series of teachings simply by the unveiling of one word. The Word guards our heart, protects us against false teaching and gives us everything that we need to persevere in the faith as a disciple and in the office of pastor. We look to the Scriptures first. We look to them often and any revelation that is not consistent with the Scripture is no revelation at all. This is not to contradict the need of building a library, it is only to warn against making anything outside of Scripture superior to it.
I believe that the insights found in books should be a confirmation of what the Holy Spirit and the Word have already been ministering to us about. When we seek to increase by the use of our library, our study/office should be filled with praises that sound like this, “Wow! Praise God! The Lord gave me this revelation already. Now it is clear and confirmed!”
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
Writing is the expression of knowledge. It is exercising the mind and improves competence. There are many studies that show that writing is an important asset in learning and remembering. It is no coincidence that The Bible instructs the writing of the Word on the tablets of our hearts (Proverbs 7:3). The acquisition of information is knowledge, and the disposition of that knowledge is wisdom. I believe that it is important to express our findings in ink before we do so in speech. This is a predominant sign of “knowing your stuff!”
It is a good practice to adopt this rule: “If you can’t write about it, don’t preach or teach about it.” I am only sharing what I do. It works and it is biblical. Don’t do yourself the injustice of limiting your writing to teaching and preaching. Let your notebooks be filled with insights, quotes and teachings. Let the wealth of your knowledge be great and your arsenal for pastorship be diverse!
"What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9)
The word exegesis is a theological term that means to interpret. In the Greek it literally means to lead out or dig up. There are so many dynamics that we must give attention to when interpreting Scripture. Digging will guard you from fables and false anecdotal teachings. Here is my brief example and poor/lazy digging: the phrase, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” (from Matthew 19:24). I heard over and over that this phrase was associated with an actual gate in Jerusalem where camel owners would struggle to get their camels through. I boldly used this in a sermon. Later I found out it is false. You avoid this trap by verifying everything. Twice.
"May have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:18-19)
Every pastor is called to “rightly divide the Word.” To rightly divide the Word is to strategically and wisely release what you already have in your possession/deposit. Earlier I said, “it is a good practice to adopt this rule: “If you can’t write about it, don’t preach or teach about it.” Don’t be disheartened. When you run low on what to share, go back to your portfolio of messages that you have already preached. Read them, meditate on them, dig deeper on the points you previously presented, write your new insights and watch you preach that sermon with new life and greater competence.
There is beauty and power in re-sharing a sermon, even if the title changes and the focus have other supporting points. When you share the second, third or fourth time around, you will be surprised at how many people will comment on the freshness of that new insight or revelation. Don’t lose your composure and say, “I preached that already!” lol! Only keep this in mind - you have successfully imparted the Word of truth! Isn’t that the goal? They got it and your competence is increasing!
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)