Nolan Harkness on Preventing Costly Ministry Decisions

The legendary Rev. David Wilkerson, author and original founder of “Teen Challenge” and the Times Square Church in New York City, once published a sequel to his best selling book The Cross and the Switchblade entitled Beyond the Cross and the Switchblade. In this little known book, which is still available online, David seems to present a “tell all” confession of some of the mistakes that he had made in ministry. During one season of his life, when the Teen Challenge program was being highly effective, touching thousands of lives, Brother Wilkerson had it on his heart to open a third level program for certain individuals who had completed the first required two years of Teen Challenge and showed great potential in leadership.

In his book, David recounts that he had a name all picked out for the new ministry.  He prayed and prayed before he put a hefty down payment on a large parcel of property near Disney World in Orlando Florida. Sometime during this season, David was approached by a Chinese man in New York City who asked him if he indeed was David Wilkerson? David acknowledged that yes, he was. The Chinese man proceeded to tell David that he was a man of much prayer in China whom God had been using in prophetic gifts for many years. He went on to tell David that whatever steps he had been taking recently for building something new was not of God. He said; “David, God has shown me that you are trying to build an epitaph for yourself.” David became very angry and walked away, rebuking the prophet under his breath telling himself that this man must be of the devil! God, however, in His infinite wisdom through His still small voice, used what that man said to David that day to gradually deal with his heart.

David admits that he eventually realized that God had indeed sent the man and that David was being blinded by his own selfish ambitions. David goes on to tell that he felt terrible about the several thousand-dollar check he had put down on the property and prayed multiple tears of repentance. Then one day the Spirit of God spoke to his heart and said “David, what you learned through this error has taught you such a great lesson concerning praying more diligently before making decisions that it will save your ministry thousands of times over what it cost you to learn it.

Leaders, we are called to be under-shepherds, under the ongoing leading of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We should be humble and teachable, in continual dependence on His Holy Spirit’s guidance in our life. We should continually be learning that prayer and much prayer is not a suggestion but a necessity for those of us in pastoral ministry. Then, like David Wilkerson when we do make mistakes, and we will, those beautiful words in season come to us from Jesus to our hearts providing healing and encouragement from our Perfect Shepherd.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Nolan Harkness