>>The Bottom Line
Applying Knowledge Decreases Difficulty
Doug Jones | RMAI/RAA National Director
When one considers the life of the Apostle Paul, so many facets of his life and ministerial influence come to mind. In relation to the message he carried throughout his world, he was definitely a voice and not an echo. In relation to fellow believers, churches, and ministers, he was not timid. He encouraged, warned, and charged to ensure that they ran with patience the race that was set before them.
From the beginning of Paul’s ministry until the end, it seems only respectful to conclude that Paul functioned much like a sentinel. A sentinel is one who stands guard—a watchman if you will.
But in the medical world, a sentinel is something that indicates the presence of disease. If there is one thing we know about disease, it is this: disease hinders us and keeps us from functioning at our full potential. Disease increases the degree of difficulty exponentially.
Throughout his epistles Paul addressed issues that, if left unattended, would eventually lead to an increased degree of difficulty. This difficulty would be not only within our personal lives but also within our marriages, families, and jobs; our fellowship with others; and the administration, development, and outreach of the Church.
Within Paul’s writings he admonished us to understand:
• That we are parts of a body. Therefore, acting independently of one another will increase the degree of difficulty for us (1 Cor. 12:12–31).
• That how we behave in our private life can increase the degree of difficulty within our public life and in some instances disqualify us completely from ministry (1 Tim. 3:1–16).
• That we must monitor how we interact with others if we intend to decrease the degree of difficulty we experience in this life (Eph. 4:21–32).
• That we are righteous. Failure to understand who we are in relationship with God, how to act upon that understanding, and what our responsibility is in walking worthy of this position will definitely increase the difficulty level within our life (Romans chapter 5, Galatians, and Eph. 4:1–32).
• That false doctrine is a formidable entity that must be identified and repudiated. Failure to follow Paul’s wisdom in this area will increase the degree of difficulty within our life and the lives of those who hear us (1 Tim. 4:16; Acts 20:28–31).
Throughout his epistles, Paul encourages us, warns us, and charges us about many issues. The list could go on and on. Thank God for the Pauline epistles!
But wait a moment—apparently the Holy Spirit knew that the Pauline epistles could not contain all of the encouragement, warnings, and charges that we must embrace in order to be all we can be. So He chose people like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He chose Peter, James, and Jude, and allowed us to hear from their perspective. Paul’s letters do not contain all the encouragement, warnings, and charges that we should embrace in order to avoid adding difficulty to our lives.
Which brings me to my point: Whether we are addressing spiritual issues, life issues, or church growth issues, no one person, ministry, book, or seminar can provide everything we will need in order to be successful. Likewise, not one of the contributors in this edition of Connections has the definitive answer. Each of them addresses the same problems from different perspectives. It’s our hope that by gleaning from all of them, you can come up with balanced solutions for your own specific needs.
So, as you read the pages that follow, keep in mind all that is written here is not the sum and total of all that needs to be said about Navigating Through Tough Times. But it’s written for the purpose of stirring us to consider our ways. Our hope is that just maybe one idea or paragraph may give you an ember that, when fanned into a flame, will assist you in emerging from the difficulties you may currently be facing within your ministry.
Knowledge applied decreases difficulty . . . always!
Serving you as you serve Him,
Douglas E. Jones
RMAI/RAA National Director