I seriously considered resigning as Senior Pastor of Seoul Baptist church recently.
The guest speaker at our annual Revival meeting last winter, before delivering his final message, said that it was from the Holy Spirit. Then he quoted Revelation 3:14-21, a message given to the church in Laodecia that says, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
When I heard that, I thought to myself, if his message that our church was lukewarm is indeed from God, who is responsible for it? It can’t be our lay leaders, because they’re passionate about their ministry. Then the message must be intended for me, the Senior Pastor. Am I limiting the Holy Spirit by being overly insistent in keeping certain rules and principles? If so, should I resign and let someone who is more passionate and more Spirit-filled become senior pastor of Seoul Baptist?
Resignation is not something you deal with lightly. I had to be absolutely sure that the message was indeed from God. So I decided to ask him a question, and if the answer was affirmative, I would take his message from God as being intended for me. My question was “Have you ever given such a strong message to the institution you belong to?” If he can deliver a bold message to his own institution, I felt that I would be able to take his message as from God.
He replied that no, he had never given such a message to his institution and its leaders. He replied further that the heart of the message God gave him for our church was not verse 16, which is a warning – “because your are neither cold nor hot” – but verse 21, which is an encouragement – “I will give the right to sit with me on my throne.”
So I decided to no longer consider resigning. But the idea lingered in my mind that I might be limiting the work of the Holy Spirit and hindering our church from being used by God more mightily. I re-read books on the works of the Holy Spirit that I first read long ago. I also read books authored by Charismatic leaders who are now very popular in Korea.
How can I help our church be more filled with the Spirit? One obvious thing to do is invite Charismatic leaders who have strong gifts of the Spirit as guest speakers. But after some thought, I rejected this idea. I’ve seen many cases where having meetings like these led to interest in spiritual gifts being replacing zeal for reaching the lost, and having faithful people with servant hearts being overshadowed by people with visible spiritual gifts.
I’ve concluded that if we focus on accomplishing our God-given mission, He will provide the necessary spiritual gifts without outside help. In our church, many healings occur as answers to our house church members’ prayers. The gift of tongues has been given in people’s personal prayer times. Other spiritual gifts have been manifest as well. I believe that if we doggedly persue the New Testament church, the spiritual gifts of the New Testament church are bound to be manifest.
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