CABOT – Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, and former Southern Baptist Convention president, spoke during the morning session of the 2012 Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Pastors’ Conference held Oct. 29 at First Baptist Church, Cabot, prior to the ABSC Annual Meeting Oct. 30-31.
Graham, an Arkansas native born in Conway, preached on keeping “ministry in balance,” taking his text from 1 Timothy 4 and 1 Peter 5.
“If we’re going to keep the flame lit in our lives, we must maintain balance,” he said.
He spoke of how balance is important in a number of areas, such as in creation, in the body and in athletics. The Bible, too, is in balance, including an Old Testament and New Testament and a balance between law and grace, among other balanced elements.
“And ministry – the calling that God has given us – must be always in balance,” Graham explained.
He said imbalance in ministry causes burnout and “the flame goes down to a flicker.”
He read from 1 Timothy 4:16, which says, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Graham explained this shows that there should be a balance between personal life and public ministry and that people are to keep a constant focus on this. In turn, both they and those who hear them will be saved – which he said regards sanctification.
“It’s only as we grow that God’s people can grow,” he said.
He shared that 1 Peter 5 gives what he calls “three different rolls or functions of the ministry.” Graham summarized these as being spiritual leaders, servant leaders and senior leaders/overseer.
“But in the Scripture, ... the pastor of the church leads well from a position of spiritual leadership and servant leadership and senior leadership and this flows out of this balance that I’m talking about,” he said.
He shared several balances to keep in mind. First, he said to balance one’s character or private ministry with one’s public ministry.
He pointed to how 1 Peter 5:3 says to “be examples to the flock.”
“If you don’t have character, if you don’t have integrity, you don’t have a ministry – you might have a church or you might have a responsibility in the church, but you don’t have a ministry if you don’t have character, authenticity,” he said.
Second, he pointed to the balance between praying and preaching.
“When you pray, you won’t just give talks or preach sermons, you will deliver a message,” he said. “And there’s a big difference between a sermon and a message.”
He explained people are dealing with issues and “we better have something more than opinion and preference - we better have a Word from God.”
Third, he spoke on the balance between courage and humility, saying “there’s an urgent need ... for courageous preaching in our generation.”
He pointed to 2 Timothy 3:16 as an example of balanced preaching.
Finally, he spoke on balancing family and church.
“I’ve said love your people, serve your people, give yourself unconditionally to the servants of Christ in ... church, but never at the expense of your family,” he said.
“The greatest sermon we preach is the legacy of our families,” he added.
He concluded by encouraging people to balance what they do on earth with what will be done in heaven, saying “eternity is more important” ... and “people are dying without Christ.”
He said if people are to have an imbalance in their lives, may it be in their passionate about winning people to Christ.
“And if you will keep your focus not on yourself or even on this horizontal plane, but keep your eyes on Jesus and the reward (and) promise that’s coming – that Jesus is coming – then you will maintain balance,” he said.