Stability: n. pl. sta·bil·i·ties
1. The state or quality of being stable, especially:
a. Resistance to change, deterioration, or displacement.
b. Constancy of character or purpose; steadfastness.
c. Reliability; dependability.
2. The ability of an object, such as a ship or aircraft, to maintain equilibrium or resume its original, upright position after displacement, as by the sea or strong winds.
Isaiah 33:6: “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (KJV)
Ephesians 4:11-16: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together [k]by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (NASB)
Anyone who has been to the Apostolic University website or who has received a diploma or certificate of completion knows how important Isaiah 33:6 is to us. It is a verse that has spoken to me about Apostolic University since I took the work over in 2004. I am only coming to realize of recent, however, why it is so important – and why we should be paying greater attention in the ministry today to the education of our ministers and, by extension, our church.
The Word indicates to us that God desires our ministries are not just anointed, but wise and knowledgeable, because through that wisdom and knowledge, we find stability. Today I see many ministries full of great preaching energy, full of great zeal and excitement, and many that are even full of dreams and visions – but I do not see many ministries that are stable, with an ability to endure through the storms that come along that attempt to blow and destroy. We talk all the time about a Jezebelic spirit, an Ichabod spirit, a this spirit, a that spirit – and we blame the destruction of ministries today on them. It is true that those spirits are sent to destroy, but they destroy because the ministries do not have any stability behind them. There is a radical difference between having a ministry full of great preaching and great energy and having one that is stable. In stability, a ministry is able to maintain displacement. It is able to recover after a situation attacks it and destroys it. There is clear staying power therein.
God does not just desire His people be anointed, but that they are able to anchor their anointing to make a difference. Too often we are looking at people’s gifts, and not enough at their anointing. For the record, there is nothing in the Bible that ever identified people by a title because of a charismatic gift – the only offices ever identified were that of the Old Covenant Levites, the prophets (who were in the prophetic office, not just people who gave prophecy every now and then), and the governmental powers. In the New Testament, the five-fold ministry is identified by office. Instead of being enamored with gifts, we are supposed to be enamored with God and the work He is doing through His people. We should be paying attention to the fruit of ministry – which is, as we can see in Ephesians 4:11-16 – building upon the cornerstone of Christ, the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20) unto stability.
The Word tells us stability comes from wisdom and knowledge – in other words, the only way we receive stability is through education and, quite honestly, an educated five-fold ministry. There are a few questions I get repeatedly in ministry. One of them is, “Do ministers really have to be educated?” or its variance, “Do I really need to go to school/be educated to preach?” These are questions that, if you were to take a survey of these two questions, you would find a wide variety of opinions. Some people believe education is an essential for modern ministry. Other people hand out certificates of ordination like they are candy bars. If someone claims to be anointed, they get a certificate. If someone claims to have a calling, they get ordained. The result of such an approach has been disastrous. We have an entire church full of leaders who are incapable of right leadership. While they may have a preaching gift, and some even have some abilities, the reality remains that they do not have the complete package needed to rightly and fully lead God’s people.
I am of the opinion that God can give anyone a message and the ability to preach that message. Someone may have the ability to preach one message, others many; but I believe the ability to draw a message from the Lord and preach it is a gift. I do not believe, however, that preaching is sufficient to prove someone has a call into ministry. Ministry is more than preaching; ministry is about leading the church into all truth. It is about following the Holy Spirit so one can rightly lead God’s people to where they need to be. Beyond following the Holy Spirit, it is about having various leadership, business, and professional abilities which present a polished and dignified appearance to church ministry.
For example: Today we see all sorts of nonsense among various so-called “ordained” ministers. We log on to Facebook to see them complaining about their “baby daddies,” personal registries and pleas for money to keep their light bills on, and we watch them engage in verbal fist-fights with other people online because they are angry at them. We raise eyebrows when women are up in the pulpit with their cleavage falling out, and at men who wear pants that are inappropriately tight. They post pictures of themselves lying on a bed or without a shirt to attract attention. This is far from a polished and dignified appearance of ministry! But the truth is they were ordained without the proper education for ministerial protocols and conducts. They don’t realize how wrong this kind of conduct is because their leaders didn’t see to it that they learned what they needed to before giving them the piece of paper that put them in a position of power.
Then we have those who tell me they are going to get on a plane and go to a country where they don’t know anything about it: not the language, culture, religion, strongholds, currency, or even where it is on a map – because “God told them to go there.” They insist that going without the first clue of what they will encounter is “faith.” No, it’s not faith – it’s ridiculous. It’s unwise and it’s unknowledgeable. It shows zeal without proper training and learning.
We all talk, gripe, even complain about the conducts we are seeing of today’s pulpiteers…but it ends at talk and gripe. We might put up a Facebook status, but how many of us are seeing to it that we educate ourselves in the necessary protocols so we can teach others? At the end of the day, no matter now awesome of a preacher you may be, if you are going to be a minister, you need to know history, culture, languages, backgrounds of the places and work you are called to do, understanding of the times of the Word, the ability to minister to those you are called to minister to, and ways you can talk and relate to people – just by studying a little of their language, religion, or unique regional issues.
Education also comes into play with the varied arenas in which many ministers dare to tread today. For example, I am sick of seeing books loaded with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. I am told, “The anointing is what’s important.” That’s fine – the anointing is important – but so is your ability to reach your audience. If your audience can’t even understand what you are trying to say because the text is such a mess, whatever message you’ve got is totally lost in your…well…mess. There are tons of editorial services and editors out there who can help with these issues. I completely understand that sometimes perfect syntax and spelling isn’t a person’s forte, but there is a definitive need to be able to speak and write the English language so it is at least understandable – and this is aside from editorial consultation. We, as ministers, need to know how to communicate God’s message in a means that is clear, understandable, and purposed so His Word will not return void.
We also need education in the business end of ministry – we need to know how to govern our organizations and how they must be legally addressed, and how to conduct ourselves as ministers of God. We need to understand appropriate attire and that attire is more than just modest clothing, but a way of dressing ourselves that is professional and Kingdom-minded. We need to understand how to network and interact, one with another. We learn how to be wise and use our gifts as we gain greater understanding of the workings of ministry and how ministry should operate. We learn this as we teach and train and as the apostles and prophets step up and do their jobs before randomly claiming to cover or teach people without having trained them.
The Word of God in the two passages above gives us great insight into the reason God’s people need to acquire wisdom and knowledge. Yes, there is a gift of a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge – but thereafter, wisdom and knowledge is acquired. It is something we are encouraged to aspire toward and strive toward as we do the Lord’s work. We are called to continuously learn, develop, and grow throughout our work. It is how we know what we are called to do, and what we are not called to do – and how to flow rightly in what God has appointed us for.
The result of education is stability for one simple reason: when we are educated, we have a better handle on ourselves. We know our limits, our abilities, and we know that we are fully equipped for anything God asks of us. Instead of floundering, operating in fear, or flying off blindly, we know exactly what we can and are supposed to do – and, better yet – we have an understanding of how to do it.
The church needs to sit itself down. Stop the whoopering and hollering for a bit…and learn. Learn about its purpose, learn about ministry, learn about leadership. When we find these truths, we will truly find ourselves in a stability that is not easily destroyed.
(c) 2013 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.