Editor’s note: Bro. C. M. Becton has served the United Pentecostal Church in many capacities, from pastor to his current position of General Secretary. His many years of service have given him a unique perspective on Apostolic ministry. Based on this experience, AIS asked Bro. Becton recently to share some advice with the younger generation of ministers. Below are some excerpts of his remarks:
On Avoiding Burn-Out:
I’ve been in the ministry for about 47 years. Back in the early days of my ministry, we never knew what burn-out was. We got tired, but “burn-out” was not a word in our vocabulary back then. But this is a different day, and there are a lot more pressures on ministers today. Pastors and preachers are suffering near collapse because of the pressures that are brought about by trying to keep a good spirit in the church. It’s frustrating sometimes because – for the most part – saints are not what they used to be. They often don’t have the respect or love for the things of God that they used to. Plus, the spirit of today seems to be a love of entertainment.
A pastor must take time off occasionally to rest. Even getting away for a few days can help. Take a vacation! Then, once you return, seek the Lord for direction.
On the Importance of Preaching:
Preaching the Word is not something you can leave to chance. The New Testament teaches us that God is no longer going to write His law on the tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of our hearts. And that’s not just a one-time thing. When we preach, He is writing His law on our hearts. So the only way to keep people hungering after God, and to keep the spirit of the world out of them, is to preach the Word until it gets down into their hearts.
Often today, we have a tendency to neglect Bible study and solid Bible teaching. We get excited about preaching and having phenomenal miracles in our services. But the thing that really brings all of that about is the teaching of the Word. It’s so important that a man of God be a student of the Word!
On The Need for Humility:
One of our greatest needs today among the Apostolic ministry is the need for humility. People need to learn to be respectful to those who are in authority. I’ve been to Ethiopia, where there is a tremendous Apostolic revival going on. The Ethiopians are the most humble people that I have ever met. I think we here in the States have got to learn this principle of humility. God will not pour out His blessings upon the proud heart.
This, however, is not going to be an easy problem to solve, because we are spoiled here in the United States. We have so much of this world’s goods that it often takes some kind of persecution or some real Satanic forces coming against the church to stir us. Somehow we must become stirred to the point that we let nothing, whether material or emotional, hinder our walk with God.
On Ministerial Challenges:
When I was a pastor, the most challenging thing to me was keeping the world out of the church. The challenge is great because people tend to gravitate to the way of least resistance. So it’s something that you have to constantly preach and teach about. It is also a challenge to keep people hungering after God and realizing that their most important need is to live close to God. It was indeed satisfying to see people doing these things as a result of the preached Word of God and the move of the Holy Ghost.
On the Problem with Church-Hopping:
I think we’re always going to have people who are going to change churches. That’s the way it’s always been, and I guess it will continue to be that way. I’ve got a saying:
“It’s not the church nearest to you; it’s the church dearest to you that’s important.”
However, there should never be a situation in which a pastor encourages saints to move from other churches. He should always try to communicate with a neighboring pastor if some of that pastor’s saints come to his church. He should let that pastor know immediately, and he should not in any way entice those people to stay. In fact, if possible, he should encourage them to go back.
There are some ministerial ethics that should come into play. And pastors should be careful not to let any tensions develop between themselves. I think it’s entirely wrong for a minister to make any kind of unkind remarks from the pulpit or derogatory remarks concerning other churches or pastors.
We should do to others as we would have them do to us. We live in a time when there is a need for a real love for one another. We are often lacking in brotherly love. And because of this, we often let things get into our hearts, and we may say things that we really don’t intend to say from the pulpit. We need to be careful of this kind of situation.