Finding Your Pace And Shifting Gears

Finding Your Pace And Shifting Gears

Hi, Friends and Family in Christ Jesus.  Today, I would like to focus on finding your pace in ministry and shifting gears as needed to truly “Focus On Jesus and Follow His Plan.”  In the body of Christ, not only is it a complete body composed of many parts with unique functions, within those unique parts there is uniqueness among the members that make up that part of the body.  As an illustration, all Scripture is God-breathed under the influence of the Holy Spirit through human authors.  But each human author exemplifies unique qualities of their own in the process, even if they may happen to be communicating the same message.  The human element is not at liberty to change the inspired message.  But it seems they are at liberty for sentence structure and format.  Likewise, in the Church Ministry Partners have unique characteristics wherein they function better.  One more illustration using farm equipment might intensify the point.


When I was ten years old my uncle promoted me to operating the sickle mower as well as lubricating all the equipment and operating the hay rake.  That summer was a good year for us in the custom haying operations with extra customers and increased production.  The sickle mower I operated had a wooden pitman shaft that connected to the sickle bar and the drive wheel.  My uncle told me to operate the engine at 1,600 RPM so the Power Take Off, PTO, Shaft would turn at 540 RPM.  He said if the hay is too thick to cut at the ground speed I was traveling to downshift the tractor to lower the ground speed but keep the PTO shaft at constant speed.  If the hay is to thin and the sickle begins to make a rattling noise in the mower then upshift to a higher ground speed to keep the mower loaded and cutting what it was designed to do.  All went well for a while, and then one day I had an experience where I needed to cut the hay faster and I had already adjusted the gears to meet the maximum ground speed for the mower.  So, I increased the engine speed to the max.  I cannot remember for sure, but I think the little tractor would run at something just over 2,000 RPM.  I was amazed.  It worked.  I was moving faster; the hay was still being cut cleanly and everything seemed okay.  Then the machinery started making a noise.  It was a sound I had never heard before.  But before I could diagnose the problem, the mower quit cutting, the hay grabbed the mower and tripped the safety breakaway and I had to stop immediately.  I managed to reset the tripped breakaway and headed for the side of the field and the truck where the tools were to see if I could fix the mower.  My uncle was working on the baler and inquired what had happened.  I told him it looked like the wooden shaft had broken.  He examined it and declared indeed the pitman had snapped.  Fortunately, that was one of the items he kept on hand in the truck.  Then he asked what was happening when it broke, and I had to tell him what I had done.  He explained that by increasing the speed I had pushed the equipment beyond its designed operating speed and that had done the damage.  He also said to not operate the equipment that way again and be content with the production the equipment was designed to produce.  He explained that by speeding up the equipment I had reduced the day’s output instead of increasing it because of the time needed to repair and recover from the breakdown.


We are much like the farm equipment.  There is a speed or level where we are most effective.  Some have narrower margins or tolerances for variations in levels of operations and some have wider margins or tolerances wherein they can adjust and still function.  But all of us have limits.  If we drop below the limit, we become less functional and sometimes dysfunctional.  If we exceed the limit, we risk becoming dysfunctional, burning out, or worse.  


The good news is the Master we serve knows exactly which is the correct speed for us.  However, not all the fields we encounter are exactly alike and there must be times we shift gears to reach that optimum ministry level for peak performance.  But you have all the power you need via the Holy Spirit to power your ministry at whatever speed it was designed be used and with enough gears to keep production at the designed efficiency.  God knows what he is doing in designing and using you and the ministry he has called you to do.


Our ministry performance is of no use unless it is powered by the Holy Spirit.  We must be intimately connected in relationship with God, Jesus Christ in us.  This is somewhat similar to Henry Blackaby’s message in his book “Experiencing God”.  In a nutshell I understand Henry Blackaby to be saying look for where God is working and join him in the work.  What is being described in this blog post is a little different in that once you have joined yourself to what God is doing to also determine the pace that allows you to maximize your work in the ministry.  It may require changing gears to stay current with the task’s circumstances wherein the ministry is being performed.


Some time should be taken for Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” work.  So, a little will be mentioned here.  The book grew out of a thirteen-week study by the same name, which has been around for several years.  The book has been expanded from thirteen to nineteen chapters and is not so much a workbook as it is a Bible study.  The structure of the book is centered on what Blackaby calls the “Seven Realities of Experiencing God.”  They are:

  1. God is always at work around you.
  2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
  3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
  4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
  5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
  6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
  7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you. (p.50)

The book opens with four introductory chapters about knowing God’s nature, doing His will, and being a servant.  The rest of the chapters in the book expand on these seven “realities.”


I do have a concern about how much emphasis is placed on specifics in ministry assignments versus simply fulfilling the role of being a disciple maker by the power of the Holy Spirit and doing whatever comes in our path to do.  Perhaps that is close to saying the same thing.  But I am not inclined to place too much emphasis on being able to determine exactly where the ministry should be performed all the time.  I sometimes suspect Christians use the expression “God is calling me to …” to simply justify whatever they believe they should be doing in Christian ministry.  I have no problem with their choice of the work.  But I am not always convinced it is God telling them which assignment they should take.  For instance, the Apostle Paul seemed to know he was to go somewhere to work but may not have had the exact location in place for a while (Acts 16:6-10), even after he left to do it.  But in moving back to the topic at hand, the point of this post is to highlight the need to determine the speed or level at which God has designed you to operate.  On farm equipment some tractors operate at 540 PTO RPM or 9 revolutions per second and others operate at 1,000 PTO RPM or about 16.6 revolutions per second and some tractors operate at both with a simple shift of gears or use of a different shaft.  The equipment has two different sized and number of splines on the shaft to help the operator know which is the preferred operating speed for that piece of equipment.


Now this is important.  One is not necessarily better than the other except as how it is matched to the equipment to be operated.  It is essential to operate a piece of machinery at the speed it was designed to accommodate.  To use another speed will reduce the output or worse, break the machinery requiring costly time and repairs to get back online in production.  


Ministry is much the same.  Christians are not cookie-cutter, Henry Ford style mass-produced, pieces of equipment.  Disciples of Jesus Christ are spiritually scientific works of Divine art, knowledgeably designed and built by God with specifics in design and application.  You are a valuable and refined component of the ministry of our God, a government official in the Kingdom of heaven and a light of Jesus Christ into this dark world as salt both preserving what is desired and destroying the evil that would threaten it.  God is wanting you to be used in exactly the way you were designed.  


Thus, this point of “Finding Your Pace and Shifting Gears” is important for you.  You will be most successful in your ministry when you operate within the tolerances wherein you were designed by God to operate and shift gears to adjust your ministry ground speed to the circumstances you encounter.


The Bible is the instruction book and the Holy Spirit in you is the power of God for the ministry you are to do.  There is something else.  Sometimes the equipment in farming is used for different purposes.  The same tractor could sometimes be used to operate a mower, rake, and baler for instance.  The same trailer that hauled the equipment from field to field could sometimes be used to haul the finished product as well.  One’s ministry may change at times depending upon what God is doing and desiring to be done.


But know this, King Jesus has assigned a function to you in his Kingdom.  It may change over time or you may spend your whole life in one assignment.  However, it is never more than you can bear and he wants you to perform that function in accordance with his design, not yours or mine.  In speaking of having you function at the level wherein you were designed to function in his Kingdom into life, not in this earth unto death, Jesus invited us all.


Matthew 11:28-30, NIV

  1. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 
  2. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
  3. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 


The Apostle Paul gave assurance no one would be pushed beyond their breaking point.  If we find ourselves beyond our breaking point, it is time to stop and assess what is not right, because it is not of Christ.  Most likely it is of our own design or we have ignored something and have allowed this world’s influence to convince us to do something other than what we should be doing, or possibly we are attempting to do it at the wrong speed or level we were designed to do it.  The job you were designed to do fits you well and you will succeed when you are doing what you are called to do at the level you were designed to do it.


1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV  

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.


Galatians 6:1-10, NIV

  1. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 
  2. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 
  3. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 
  4. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 
  5. for each one should carry their own load. 
  6. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. 
  7. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 
  8. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 
  9. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 
  10. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 


Be strong and courageous in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You are part of the body.  We are not all included on every work.  But all our work is contained in our “Focusing On Jesus and Following His Plan.”

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