Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dealing with a Difficult Audience - Martin Wiles

They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says!” Ezekiel 2:4 NLT

God never promises what He asks us to do will be easy—and it wasn’t for Dad.

Other than when I was a small child, I only knew Dad as a preacher. Living in a preacher’s home makes one privy to information the normal church member might not be aware of. One thing, getting the inside scoop on how difficult some people can be. 

I recall one country church my father pastored. He, Mom, and my two brothers loved the area and the people. It was country living at its finest. I loved it too and soon decided to move to the area as well. No sooner had I settled in, than Dad decided to move. 

He and the congregants got along well, but one thing bothered him. On the Sunday of his resignation, he said, “I’ve been here two years, and no one has ever come forward during an altar call.” Though he loved the people, in Dad’s mind, they were a difficult audience to preach to. Perhaps the needed decisions were all made in the pew, but Dad wanted to see action. 

I’ve felt Dad’s concern. Having pastored several smaller membership churches, I too have preached hundreds of sermons and saw little if any movement to the altar. Maybe they too made their decisions in the pew.

Dad and I could have mistaken our audiences as difficult to preach to, but Ezekiel didn’t. He didn’t have to make the judgment call because God did it for him. Stubborn. Hard-hearted. But God sent him anyway. 

Whatever the audience God sends me to, my responsibility is simply to be faithful to His call. God doesn’t hold me responsible for their decisions—whether many, few, or none at all. Or whether they’ve been made publicly or privately. My job is simply to deliver the message God gives. 

Sometimes God has to remind me that even though I don’t see fruit it doesn’t mean fruit hasn’t been produced. Seeing matters of the heart is difficult. My job is to trust God to give me the strength to do whatever task He assigns. And He will. As He does, He’ll walk by my side, giving guidance the entire way. 

When God calls you to deliver a message to a difficult audience, remember He’ll be faithful to you if you are faithful to Him.

Prayer: Father, enable us to trust You to guide us and give us strength regardless of the audience you call us to speak to. 

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