This might appear to be a strange question, but you would be surprised at the amount of pastors asking it. Do not misunderstand, I could not be more excited about these historic movements such as The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel, and others like it. Much significant work for the kingdom is being done by those who lead them. Nevertheless, a down side to these movements is an insecurity that can develop in many ordinary pastors who feel their gifts are far less than those speaking at these premiere conferences and it ultimately leads to a questioning of their own effectiveness as a pastor.
Obviously, the answer to the question is “yes” and those who lead the Gospel Coalition would be the first to acknowledge this. In fact, those who speak at these conferences serve us in these ways because they know this answer to be a resounding, “yes!”
Yet, that does not change how the extraordinary gifts of another can often discourage those whose gifts are less prominent. If that is you, dear brother, questioning your calling and effectiveness as you listen to the stunning intellect of Tim Keller and Don Carson, or watch the charisma of Matt Chandler and Alister Begg…do not lose heart.
This is no new scenerio. I am currently trying to finish Volume 2 of Arnold Dallimore’s outstanding biography on George Whitefield. Many pastors in the 18th century, although appreciative of Whitefield’s gifts and ministry, found themselves struggling to measure up once Whitefield left town and the trench work stirred by Whitefield’s presence remained.
Brothers, be encouraged as Dallimore rightfully observes in regard to one of the most significant spiritual revivals that broke out as a result of the great George Whitefield’s preaching…
“It began under the ministry of a man (ordinary pastor) who did not possess outstanding pulpit gifts, but who was simply doing his regular task, but with grave earnestness.”
Dear brothers, God does not need those with extraordinary gifts. They exist as a gift to us to encourage and spur us on in the trenches of pastoral ministry. Attend these excellent conferences. Listen and learn. Be fed by the Word these gifted men preach for your benefit. Yet, do not envy them. Do not allow their unique gifts to make you question that God has gifted you to do the precise work He desires to be done in the exact place you find yourself pastoring today.
Make no mistake, to the one much is given, much is required. These men who faithfully serve us at these conferences carry with them a burden few of us know. I think if we truly knew the level of that burden they carry, we would not envy them quite so much. In fact, it would make us even more grateful for them and their service to us.
Bloom where God has planted you, dear brother. He makes no mistakes in the placement of us in ministry! Pray, not for extraordinary gifts, fellow pastor, but for a grave earnestness in the faithful, gospel trench work in which you engage today. God will bear fruit.