Several weeks ago Paul Bubar asked if I would speak last Wednesday night at a church about an hour north of Word of Life. During the drive to the church, Paul and I talked about his fifty years of service with Word of Life. At one point he mentioned that in the early 70s, he had invited Dr. Lee Roberson, noted pastor and founder of Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, to preach at a round-robin Bible conference in several churches in New England. Because the conference involved a number of churches, Paul and Dr. Roberson spent a lot of time driving together from one church to another.
During one late-night conversation, Paul asked Dr. Roberson who ministered to him. At that time Dr. Roberson preached at Highland Park Baptist Church on Sundays, traveled and spoke someone else on Monday and Tuesday, came back to Highland Park for Wednesday night, and then sometimes traveled again on Thursday and Friday. So how did he keep himself spiritually fresh? “Dr. Roberson. You travel so much. Who ministers to you?"
His answer was revealing. “I minister to myself all the time. Each time before I get up and preach, I say to myself, ’Lee, are you a hypocrite? Do you really believe what you are saying? Are you living what you are preaching? I never preach without asking those questions.’"
As I pondered that answer, I found something helpful for my own heart. I’ve often wondered about the cryptic comment in 1 Samuel 30:6 that "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (KJV). In that particular instance David found his own men turning against him because of the burning of Ziklag. In that desperate moment David turned to the Lord. He couldn’t go to his “men’s group” because they were ready to stone him. So he went alone and found strength in the Lord.
I think in our day if we were asked about who ministers to us, we would probably answer differently than Dr. Roberson. We would talk about our close friends, accountability partners, other pastors who help us, and so on. Those are all good answers. But in the final analysis a man stands alone before the Lord. Leadership is in its essence a lonely business. After we have consulted with our spouse, our loved ones and our friends, it is still finally us and the Lord.
It is a good thing for a leader to be ministered to by many people and to draw strength from many sources. But in the quietness of his soul, it is imperative that a leader should ask himself some honest questions about who he is and why he does what he does. It’s all about integrity, living the truth that we proclaim to others.
Wise leaders minister to themselves and then find strength in the Lord their God.