"I really don't need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. . . . . I know how eager you are to help. But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready . . . and that your money is all collected." - 2 Corinthians 9:1-3 (New Living Translation)
In my early years of ministry, I thought that charisma and the 'charismata' (gifts of the Spirit) all operated through the spontaneous, unpredictable, unplanned movement of the Holy Spirit.
I thought that the more spontaneous an event or an occurrence was, the more it reflected God's presence and power.
But after thirty plus years in pastoral ministry, I've come to see things differently.
Spontaneity can be grossly overrated. Serendipitous moments are exciting but hardly sustaining.
Sustained ministry requires a lot of preparation and a lot of checks and balances.
Enthusiasm alone is not enough to balance a yearly budget. Spiritual vision that is not logistically executed is not much more than a pipe dream.
People rarely do what they should do just because they know they ought to do it. In fact, people don't do what is expected; people do what is inspected.
The enthusiasm that the Christian believers at Corinth had shown for giving financial support for their beleaguered brothers and sisters in Jerusalem greatly inspired Paul and many other Christians throughout southeast Europe. Paul boasted about the generosity of the Corinthian church throughout the region.
But when it was actually time for Paul to collect the Corinthian gift, he did not rely on the spontaneous movement of the Spirit. Paul sent an Advance Team to Corinth to make certain that what he expected and what he had announced would be delivered.
God, continue to rule and super rule. But help us to plan our work and work our plans to your glory. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.