“In the 18th century and until 1 January 1980, Britain defined alcohol content in terms of “proof spirit,” which was defined as the most dilute spirit that would sustain combustion of gunpowder. The term originated in the 18th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, the test or “proof” was by dousing gunpowder in it, then testing to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not burn, the rum contained too much water and was considered to be “under proof.”” (I got this from wikipedia, so get a grip and don’t trip!)
Gunpowder burn was the 100% spirit proof for alcohol back in the day. What is the 100 proof of authentic, spirit-bred, spirit-led ministry today? Fruit! For some 20 years I pastored (or perhaps merely attempted) churches from one side of the country to the other and produced the same results: no fruit. Although there were clear ministry gifts in place, a love for God and a seriousness about winning souls and building the church, year after year the churches I led continued with the same, wonderful people, and dismal conversion stats. And when you’re pastoring a church, which is a lot like managing a vineyard, eventually the owner, who’s in the vineyard business for production, is going to demand an accounting, and there are only three possibilities: decline, stagnation, or growth. Fewer grapes, the same amount of grapes, or more grapes. I saw decline. I saw stagnation. But I never saw any growth.
THE EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT MINISTRY FOR YOU IS YOUR FRUITFULNESS! If there is no fruit in your life ministry, but you are saved, you’re in the wrong place and/or ministry. If you’re in the right place and/or ministry you will bear much fruit that will remain because you were ordained by Jesus to do that ministry in that place (Jn 15:8). The proof of your ordination (having been set in place by Jesus) is your fruit. The proof of any person’s or ministry’s ordination is its fruit.
So, you might be asking, “How were you able to stay in the pastorate for 20 years bearing no fruit if you were gifted, loved God, and wanted to win souls?” Good question. Corny-but-true answer: I was able to stay in the pastorate for so long (without bearing fruit) because I had no prayer life. Oh I prayed once in a while, especially when something really big was coming up. And I prayed before meals and for people and at public ceremonies. But a daily routine of seeking God’s face? Nah! That was something I taught, but didn’t do myself. And I’m sure a piece of my rationale was, “I spend all day with (working for) God, I don’t need to spend regular time with Him in the mornings, too!” That attitude in itself is an indication of misplacement. When God really plants you in a ministry, you will recognize your utter dependence on Him and have no choice but to seek Him regularly just to breathe! Once I began praying regularly I became more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in ministry. It took all of two months for God to arrest my heart and convict my conscience that I was in the wrong area of ministry. Three months after that He moved me out of the pastorate and into an area of ministry where I becoming much more fruitful.
Is your life and ministry 100 proof? Show me the fruit!
To learn how to build an effective personal prayer time with God and find your place of ministry, click here.