Temptations are part and parcel of the ministry experience. No minister of the Gospel will not be tempted. Even our Lord JesusChrist, the Head of the Church, the ideal and pattern Minister, was tempted. So, temptations are inevitable in ministry. This is because the evil one, the devil, is strongly fixated on what we’re doing and he wants to throw all the weapons in his arsenal to bring us down.
However, you can resist temptations in ministry. You can stand against temptations in ministry. Like Dad Hagin once said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” Strong! Isn’t it? At times, temptations, which primarily originate from immature and unsanctified thoughts, will inevitably stare you in the face, but you can strongly resist them.
There are general temptations in life and ministry that are peculiar to all of us, and our Lord JesusChrist becomes the ultimate Pattern in dealing with them. The Word tells us that He was tempted in all points, i.e., in all aspects, yet without sin – Heb. 4:15. Therefore, no matter who you are or the dimension of your ministry, some temptations are common to all ministers.
However, sometimes, the devil tempts the man of God along with his peculiar area of gifting. In other words, this is a situation whereby the propensity, proclivity, and predisposition towards a particular line of temptation may be more pronounced for a minister as against another minister based on callings and giftings, and I believe this is one area that the Holy Spirit would have us look into.
Let me give two examples here in the practical realm of life. A multi-millionaire may not necessarily be tempted to steal fifty naira notes, but that will be a major temptation for another person. Also, a hungry man can be tempted with food. Why? Because he’s hungry. But think about it; when a man has eaten satisfactorily, and his stomach is full, now bringing another plate of food to him with all its enticing and tantalizing supplements may not tempt him at that moment.
The thought here is that sometimes depending on where you “occupy” in life, you’re more prone to certain temptations than others. The same goes for ministry gifts – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. Like I said a while ago, there are temptations peculiar to all ministers, but the truth is there are also temptations peculiar to you based on your callings, giftings, and dealings with God in your life. Remember that at River Jordan, the voice of the Father came from Heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” – Matt. 3:17. That was God putting His signature on Christ!
But notice that shortly after that in the wilderness of temptation, the first thing Satan said to Jesus was to question and challenge that statement. He told Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” – Matt 4:2. Jesus had just heard the Father say, “This is my beloved Son…” and here was Satan saying, “If you’re the Son of God…”. The principle here is that the tempter sometimes tempts you along the line of God’s peculiar dealings with you. And the same sometimes extends to your calling. That’s why we’re looking at the ministry gifts here – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.
I know from ministry experience by God’s Grace that there are temptations that each ministry gift should deal with. We will streamline our discussion to one point each for each of the ministry gifts to maintain brevity of thoughts. I do not doubt that there are other temptations to look out for if you’re a ministry gift but the ones I intend to share briefly are, to my mind, major, and if they can be well taken care of, then the minister will most likely be better positioned to handle other temptations peculiar to his calling.
Now let’s study them one after the other. What are the key temptations that an Apostle, a Prophet, an Evangelist, a Pastor, or a Teacher should deal with? Here are my thoughts here friends:
(1) An Apostle: Since he ministers with authority and establishes God’s order by authority, if care is not taken, he tends to be overbearing in influence. There are people today who believe that the apostle is superior to other ministry gifts and that every other ministry gift is to submit to him. They sometimes cite the fact that when Paul taught on ministry gifts, he mentioned the apostle first – Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor.12:28, therefore he’s superior to all other ministers, but that’s not correct. Paul only listed the ministry gifts in Ephesians 4:11 in their order of evolution in the early Church – the way and manner they evolved on the landscape of the Church. An apostolic minister must be careful not to see every other ministry gift as inferior to him. You don’t come to town as an apostle and expect the Pastors in town (who have been doing ministry in town years before you came) to all submit to you. That’s taking the matter too far! The Apostle Paul himself, who planted many churches in the New Testament, had people he submitted to in ministry – Gal. 2:2,8-9. Let’s tread with caution – we’re still going far in life and ministry.
(2) A Prophet: Prophets are seers. They operate in the revelation gifts of the Spirit as part of their spiritual equipment – Num. 12:6. They see the invisible and hear the inaudible. They just know things supernaturally by the anointing. But a major temptation for prophets is the total and wholesale neglect of the word ministry. A Prophet once told another minister who is a teacher, “We prophets are talking; teachers are also talking”. And what happened was that the teacher simply wanted the prophet to prove his stand by Scripture but the prophet got angry. I have dealt with situations as a Pastor where the parents of my member went to pray concerning their relationship and the prophet said the sister must get pregnant before marriage if she ever wanted to have children. Now, I couldn’t find that in scripture. That’s not correct! I had to step in and bring the situation under the control of the Holy Spirit. There are many other examples beloved. If you’re in the prophetic ministry, don’t place your gift above the Bible. The Bible is the most authentic Source of revelation for a child of God. Thank God today, there are many prophets out there who are also sound in the Scriptures. It’s surely a new dawn for the Body of Christ.
(3) An Evangelist: He parades an undying love and unquenchable passion for souls plus the prolific manifestation of the power gifts of the Spirit. Signs and wonders attend to his ministrations as a credible testament to the fact that Jesus is alive forever more. A key temptation that the evangelist has to deal with is the pressure to perform.
He must watch it. If you’re an evangelist, don’t let people put pressure on you to begin to fake the things of the Spirit. Give out the Word in faith and the Lord will confirm it with signs and wonders – Mk. 16:20. Don’t fake miracles. Don’t cook things up. Don’t impress anybody. I once heard the story of a young minister who began to mimic Benny Hinn some years ago. At a meeting, all the words of knowledge that Benny Hinn gave at a crusade were copied word-for-word and given by this young man at his meeting. I’m not sure if he’s in ministry today. Let’s be careful friends. The things of the Spirit are not magical; they are procedural. Don’t let the pressure to perform move you out of your calling.
(4) A Pastor: A Pastor is a shepherd. He tends the flock. He stays with the flock. People will open up their lives to him because they see him as their father. Pastors spend more time with people. They feed the flock and provide spiritual covering. Now, under being a Pastor, you will get to know many things about people. Therefore a major temptation to avoid in pastoral ministry is familiarity. Don’t get familiar with people. Pastor them in the spirit not in the flesh. A Pastor should not dash into people’s bedrooms because he’s their Pastor. A Pastor should not be loose with his female members. Give people a breathing space. Don’t take people for granted because they honor you. Respect their privacy too. So, Pastors should learn to deal with the temptation of familiarity.
(5) A Teacher: He’s a Bible expositor. He explains the Word. The Bible is his major instrument of ministry, and by the revelation and inspiration of the Spirit, he unveils precious gems from the Scriptures. A teacher is Word-inclined, and he uncovers deep revelations from God’s Word. To my mind, a major temptation that a teacher will have to deal with is not listening to others. Immature teachers feel no one can bless them. They feel there’s nothing you want to say from Scriptures that they don’t know. Sometimes to bless a teacher of the Word, you have to tighten your seatbelt. But the bitter truth is that there are things others know that you don’t know. A mature teacher does not listen to people to pick holes or puncture what they’re saying. No, he listens to learn. Truth is I have learned from a lot of ministers and I’m still learning. At times, when I see people listen to tackle, I know it’s childishness; some will soon outgrow it and eventually regret their wanton folly and sheer ignorance. Apollos was a great teacher of the Word but if he didn’t open up to the ministry of Aquila and Priscilla, his ministry would have remained on the same level. But they taught him more and he became better for it – Acts 18:24-28. Friend, nobody knows it all.
We can watch out for these temptations and other related ones and avoid them, and we all would be better for it. The goal of Satan is to undermine your ministerial productivity, but you can overturn his schemes and manipulations. Be deliberate about guarding against these temptations in ministry. Don’t say, “It’s for spiritual babies”. I’m sure you know that Jesus was not a spiritual baby when Satan came to tempt Him. Therefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall – 1 Cor. 10:12.
Hope this is a blessing Sirs and Mas.
By Pastor Bimbo Animashaun