Go, labor on; spend and be spent,
Thy joy to do the Father’s will;
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?
Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice;
For toil comes rest, for exile home;
Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,
The midnight peal, “Behold, I come!” — H. Bonar.
Has thy night been long and mournful ?
Have thy friends unfaithful proved?
Have thy foes been proud and scornful,
By thy sighs and tears unmoved?
Cease thy mourning; Zion still is well beloved.
God, thy God, will now restore thee;
He himself appears thy Friend;
All thy foes shall flee before thee;
Here their boasts and triumphs end: Great deliverance
Zion’s King will surely send. — Thomas Kelly
But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. — Galatians 6:4-5
At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me… . Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear. — 2 Timothy 4:16-17
THE pastor who depends on special help in revivals makes a great mistake. It results unfavorably both for the pastor and the people. It is a significant drawback to a pastor’s influence and usefulness if the churches understand that he cannot have a revival without special help. The churches look on such a man as a one-sided, incomplete pastor, as incompetent to make full proof of his ministry. As soon as the churches take this view of a man, they lose to a considerable degree their confidence in him. By his methods, he has devalued his value and raised an almost insurmountable barrier to his success. The man in whom the churches have faith and are willing to follow and gladly and thoroughly sustain in every way is the man who can do his own preaching, care for his prayer meetings, look after his own Epworth League, direct and watch over his own Sunday school, be in his own class meetings, take charge of his altar services, do his pastoral visiting, carefully and systematically train his probationers, and make his church and community the one center of all his thought and toil. This kind of a man, if he has a fair amount of common sense, and sweetness of disposition, and tact, and ability to manage men, and a love for the perishing, and enjoys religion, and has faith in the promises of God, will indeed and naturally develop the supreme quality of leadership; he will command the cooperation of his church and people, and he will see the work of God prosper in his hands. He will not need to depend on special help for revival work; with God’s blessing, he and his church will come to enjoy a perennial revival.
And who will venture to say this is an impossible ideal—that there are no such pastors? If there are not plenty of them, it is not for lack of natural endowments, not for lack of unattainable grace. It is simply and solely because the pastor does not have the right ideal before his mind and is not willing, with unreserved consecration, to give himself wholly to the work of God. Because he will not take this reasonable ideal and, day and night, strive to realize it in his own life and ministry. So many—too many by far—fall into ruts and, in an easy-going way, perform in a routine and perfunctory style the ordinary duties of the profession. The churches do not want such men. They are of little profit to them, but they are the men who, if they have any revivals, must depend upon special and outside helps to secure them.
But bad as it is for the pastor to depend upon these special helps, it is far worse for the church. It is difficult to imagine anything that can more thoroughly weaken the faith, quench the zeal, and destroy the activity of a church than to have the members depend upon special help to carry on revival work. If any church understands this to be the accepted policy, then, first of all, the average church member will fold his arms and wait for the usual excitement and for the angel to come along from somewhere, perhaps from heaven, to trouble the waters. As a rule, church members who depend on these special helps are very nearly good for nothing for regular work. Besides, they lose their sense of personal responsibility. When that is the case with a Christian man or woman, then little in the way of service is attempted, and less is accomplished. It is so easy to wait for the coming of special help and so easy to excuse one’s self when it is known that somebody else will, in due time, be hired to do the work. It is death to any church to lose the sense of direct personal responsibility. God will tolerate few of the excuses that may be offered. No one can shift to another the responsibility that properly and rightly belongs to himself. All Christendom, and our Methodism, with all the rest, suffer because of shirking personal responsibility. And what better calculated to foster and encourage this than dependence upon special helps to do the work each should do?
And, still, further, such church members suffer spiritual atrophy in all their faculties and senses. Their hearts become hardened. Their eyes are dim to see the needs of a sinning, sorrowing, dying world. Their feet are lame, and they cannot run without great weariness. Their hands are hard and stiff, and unsympathetic. There is no thrill of Christian helpfulness about them. O, for hearts that feel, for eyes that see, for feet that run, for hands that are gentle, tender, and full of help! But there will be a need for much and constant exercise to possess all this. Church members who wait for special help in revivals will not possess this world-uplifting, soul-saving qualities. O, that God would save our churches from waiting for special help in revivals!
And yet I must not be misunderstood. I would not say a word against any evangelist called by God to the work. I would not put a straw in the way of any such man or woman. But I do plead for every pastor and church should constantly be engaged in evangelistic work and not depend upon special outside helps. If all our pastors and churches would just now throw themselves into this glorious work, the holy fire would descend in Pentecostal glory, and revivals would break out in all directions.
By Bishop W. F. Mallalieu
Updated 2023 Nathan Zipfel