Who is Setting the Pace for Your Ministry?
Tony Cooke

Jacob had an interesting encounter with his brother, Esau, after they had been separated over an extended period of time. As you know, this relationship had been a strained one, and Jacob’s discomfort in this relationship is evident. Look at what happened in this encounter:

“Well, let’s be going,” Esau said. “I will stay with you and lead the way.” But Jacob replied, “You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, they may die. So go on ahead of us. We will follow at our own pace and meet you at Seir.” (Genesis 33:12-14, NLT)

What a fascinating encounter! Esau essentially said, “We’re going to travel side by side, and I’m going to set the pace for our journey.” Jacob was strong and secure enough, though, to not feel obligated to “keep up” with Esau. He knew that he had to do what was best for those under his care and supervision. He had a responsibility toward his children and toward the young in his flock.

As a good “pastor” and father, Jacob knew he couldn’t drive his flock and his children just to keep up with the expectations of Esau. He wasn’t going to allow a sense of comparison and competitiveness to dictate the way he discharged his responsibilities as a leader. He then stated that he would have to establish a pace that was best for those under his care. In essence, Jacob said, “You do what you need to do to lead those under your supervision, and I’ll do what I need to do to lead those under my supervision.”

Who is setting the pace for your ministry? Do you feel compelled to “keep up” with some other pastor or church? If you yield to that kind pressure, then you’ll transfer that pressure to others.

We’re all familiar with what Peter said to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, “…such as I have give I thee” (Acts 3:6). There’s a universal principle in that statement which goes beyond healing. As ministers, we always give people what we have, good or bad. It’s been said, “We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.” If we’re full of peace, joy, and gladness, we’re contagious with those spiritual forces. On the other hand, if we’re frustrated, we transmit frustration. If we’re angry, we transmit anger. If we’re driven, we transmit our sense of compulsion.

The reason we can’t let someone else dictate the pace for our ministry is that each of us has a unique calling, a unique set of gifts, and a unique assignment from heaven. I’m not called to replicate your ministry, and you’re not called to replicate mine. The Apostle Paul understood this powerful principle, and that’s what enabled him to stay so focused on carrying out his own particular assignment from God. Paul said: Not that we [have the audacity to] venture to class or [even to] compare ourselves with some who exalt and furnish testimonials for themselves! However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely. We, on the other hand, will not boast beyond our legitimate province and proper limit, but will keep within the limits [of our commission which] God has allotted us as our measuring line and which reaches and includes even you (2 Corinthians 10:12-13, Amplified).

Ministry is a lot more enjoyable when you recognize your “province” and your “limits.” God hasn’t called you to be Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or Joel Osteen. He hasn’t called you to be T.D. Jakes or even Kenneth Hagin. He’s called you to be you! Thank God for other ministers, and when you learn something beneficial from a minister that will help you as you carry out your assignment, that’s wonderful. But your assignment isn’t necessarily identical to someone else’s assignment. If you try to keep up with them and what God’s called them to do, you might kill your flock in the process.

God has called you to serve Him, and as you seek Him, He will give you the wisdom to set the right pace for your ministry. The pace He sets for you will not only be best for you, but it will also be what’s best for all those under your care.