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I watched my grandson work one day. He was drilling holes a piece of wood to create a bee house. While he worked hard, as a two year old he needed help. He needed strength to hole and press the drill. When he finished, he was delighted celebrating what he made without so much as a passing acknowledgement of any help.

In the church, we are engaged in ministry. Much of what we do we seem to do in our own strength. We organize. We visit. Like so many moments when we say I’ll do that or let me teach you, it seems that our own competence and strength is required and used.

Yesterday, we celebrated Pentecost. Acts 1 begins with Jesus telling the disciples “wait”. It is not that the disciples were without skills or abilities. But that was beside the point. The basic principle is simple: not by might, nor by power, but by the Holy Spirit. While I am convinced that vision and strategic directions are the responsibility of the office of elder, that growth in skill and competence is required and that faithfulness is service is vital, Pentecost reminds me again of the great truth of the Kingdom: that the Spirit makes dry bones live, the Spirit gives words power, the Spirit inspires, and the Spirit raises ordinary faithfulness to empowered kingdom building. Don’t try building the kingdom yourself, wait for the Spirit.

It reminded me of 1 Sam. 13. Saul gets anxious waiting for Samuel. His troops are leaving. Fear has taken over. As a leader he looks indecisive and weak. Something needs doing, so he takes on the leadership mantel and begins the sacrifice. Then Samuel shows up: “could you not wait?” he asks. In that moment, Saul loses the Kingdom.

We all want the Kingdom to come and our churches to thrive. Let’s acknowledge our dependence on the Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads and strengthens the church. Through his presence we see Christ more clearly and bring glory to God.


AMEN. Well written Neil. This is "Basic Christianity." But it is also "Intermediate Christianity," and it is "Advanced Christianity." That is, we must always be totally reliant on the Holy Spirit to live a life honoring to God whether we are a new babe in Christ or a maturing elder. We do pick up skills and understanding along the journey, but unfortunately when we do, we tend to move out on our own before prayer and surrender to God, thinking something like, "we know what to do." We might be right. We might in fact approach our task exactly as the Holy Spirit would have us approach the task. But with one critical missing element--the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. Why? Simply because we did not pause long enough to submit ourselves and the task to Christ in prayer before we got started on it.

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