“Do your job.”
There was noticeable inhalation of air when Pastor Doug Munton said that the first time, not a gasp, but an audible recognition of the importance of the statement.
“I’m going to tell you three things God does to bring encouragement to discouraged prophets,” Munton said as he read from Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 19. But telling tired pastors to get back to work wasn’t what they expected to hear.
Yet his admonition resonated.
Munton was the final speaker at the 2022 IBSA Pastors Conference in Edwardsville, Nov. 1-2. He followed Chip Luter, a pastor in New Orleans and son of former SBC president Fred Luter who preached the night before.
In a style that married his father’s energetic delivery with sharp analysis of contemporary challenges to the church, the younger Luter drew comparisons between the men in Mark 2 who lowered their disabled friend through the roof to Jesus to today’s pastors who must be equally compassionate, creative, and confident.
“If we want to see God do something in our church, we have to move to some new zones beyond our comfort zone,” he said.
“We gotta have collaboration,” Luter preached. “We gotta get away from this Walmart mentality that we can do it all by ourselves.
“Yes, there are conflicts. Yes, there are politics, but we have to focus on the mission.” Luter told about a meeting with a former flight director at NASA who connected with work of 14 control centers across the U.S. Luter asked how he brought them all together despite distance and differences.
“Our mission is not about us, it’s about the astronauts,” the NASA leader said.
The preacher applied the lesson to the church, too often caught up in differences with each other and disconnected from the community. “It’s not about us, it’s about the kingdom,” he said. “It’s not about us, it’s about the Master…. It’s about the mission that draws us together.”
He summarized, “If we’re going to reach this generation in this culture, we need confidence to get them to Jesus. He can do it.”
Munton followed with the final message on the theme “Unspeakable Joy.” It was for discouraged prophets. “I have a special word for the discouragement in my life. I call it Monday,” Munton said. Nodding pastors chuckled.
With Elijah as his example, Munton said discouragement comes because of fatigue, failed expectations, and fear. Exhausted after his confrontation with the prophets of Baal and on the run from Jezebel, Elijah hid in a cave, just ahead of another season of victory. “Opportunities and difficulties travel parallel tracks and they arrive at the same place at about the same time,” Munton said, quoting another preacher.
Munton pointed out three things God does when his prophet is tired: he gives us a job, he shows us that he’s sovereign, and he proves that we are not alone. Most important, God shows up—not as an earthquake or windstorm, but as a quiet voice.
“Discouraged prophet, here’s what I want you to do,” Munton said. “Do your job. Do the next thing. Just obey God today.”
Dustin Haile of Mt. Vernon was elected treasurer of the 2023 IBSA Pastors Conference. Outgoing president Belafae Johnson urged those headed back to their churches to demonstrate the same unity and sense of purpose he had witnessed during the two-day meeting. “In Illinois, if we desire to the Lord move in our state, we need to be people who sacrifice our preferences to see much made of Jesus.”
The 2023 IBSA Pastors Conference and Annual Meeting will be held Nov. 8-9 at Cornerstone Church in Marion.