Distinctive Ministry and “Full-Time” Work
Many people think that a distinctive ministry automatically means that the person is exempted from tent-making and lives on the funds of others and the churches. This must not be so.
The Bible does not give us the picture of many people on whom the finances of the churches were spent because they worked for God all the time. The New Testament does not divide the servants of the Lord into two classes " the full-time servants and the part-time servants. The Bible divides them into the faithful and the unfaithful.
We have proved in our own experience that a disciplined person whose heart is sold out to the Lord can use his day as follows:
7 hours daily at his tent-making as demanded by the State,
8 hours at the business of the Kingdom,
9 hours for himself.
The thought that a person should be tired after seven hours at work bears testimony to an easy-going generation at the brink of economic, moral, and spiritual decay. In human history, real progress was made when people worked hard, sometimes more than fifteen hours a day. This worship of laziness and ease and its promotion in the name of the Lord lies partly at the root of the current spiritual and moral decay. Hard work will not kill anyone. If anything, it will help them to live long.
All the men whose lives and ministry were a great blessing to me worked very hard. None of them put in working hours that were less than fifteen hours each day. They caught the vision of God and they could not commit the crime of laziness. John Wesley, John Sung, Hudson Taylor, Pastor Tsi, Watchman Nee, etc, were men who knew how to make minutes count for the Kingdom.
I would personally not want to finance someone’s food and clothing while he carries out some ministry unless he had demonstrated a real spirit of hard work. To be lazy in God’s name is an abomination. Only when the person is already putting as much time into God’s work as those people who are earning their own living and yet cannot complete the daily demands of his ministry should he be considered for support.
If an evangelist is not putting more than eight hours daily into the ministry, he should work and yet put in the eight hours because that is possible. Most campaigns are not carried out during working hours!
I understand that the locality may not permit working at tent-making and that may justify support. Well, such a person should justify the support by spending around sixteen hours in the ministry of waiting on God, prayer, Bible study, evangelism, edification, etc, daily in order to be considered faithful.
Again I insist that hard work is necessary. There are too many who are doing too little. The church is greatly hindered by indisciplined, disorganised, lazy, and purposeless leadership. This is a shame.
Again I suggest that before you consider leaving tent-making for some ministry where you will depend on others, make sure you are very hard-working and that you cannot with fifteen hours a day accomplish the work of earning your bread and the ministry that the Lord has given to you. If you live on the sacrifice of others or on the discipline of others while you yourself are not sacrificing your time and all for the Lord and are not disciplined, you are an unfaithful servant, and God will bring you to judgment. Think seriously about this.
I am quite convinced that those who exert themselves in the work of the Lord, who press on, who strain and strive, putting in every second of time and every ounce of energy, are easily recognised and no one can question their commitment. But alas, these are so few and their number is declining so rapidly that maybe in another ten years we will need to light a lamp in the day to try and find them if the Lord of the harvest tarries.
Are you hard-working? If not, there is a curse on you. Repent at once before you become a stumbling block to the Church. The Lord Jesus said,
“My Father is working still, and I am working” (John 5:I7).
God has worked every second from the past eternal timelessness until the present, and will go on working without a second’s rest in the future eternal timelessness. There is no substitute for imitating Him.