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Examine call from God’s view, Henry Blackaby urges pastors

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Approximately 450 pastors and spouses were challenged to reexamine their commitment to Christ-centered ministry and develop character that comes from an intimate relationship with God during a May 17-19 conference, “Revisiting Your Call,” at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center.
Featured speakers were Henry T. Blackaby and Henry Brandt, co-authors of “The Power of the Call,” a book published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Most religious leaders function and preach out of a job description rather than a relationship to God. If we don’t have that [relationship with God] on our agenda, we’re in trouble,” said Blackaby, who leads the prayer and spiritual awakening emphasis for the North American Mission Board and is co-author of the “Experiencing God” discipleship course.
Basing many of his remarks on the life of the biblical character Abraham, Blackaby asked those present to “look at your call from God’s perspective.” The patriarch’s response to a call from God was “immediate and complete.” Abraham left on his journey of faith before knowing the precise destination.
“God called Abraham, not to an assignment, but to a relationship … . Everything about your call is God-centered, not self-centered.”
Therefore, Blackaby observed, a pastor should not “aspire to an assignment God has not called you to.”
“God has uniquely shaped your life. There’s no one else quite like you. There’s no duplicate,” Blackaby told those attending the second annual conference. He urged the pastors to “spend your time in obedience to God,” which he defined as the true meaning of success.
Blackaby warned that sometimes God has to remove an obstacle before the called person can “be set free to answer” God’s call. “God wants a solitary commitment, unreserved … an absolute and unchallenged faith in him.”
God also demands “a character that relates to him so thoroughly that he could ask anything of you and you would say, ‘Yes.’ God cannot develop your character until you’re where he wants you to be,” Blackaby stated.
Difficult circumstances “don’t make character, they reveal what’s there,” he said. What the pastor does “spontaneously under pressure” demonstrates his closeness and relationship with God, who has a clear “standard for worship.”
Brandt, a biblical counseling pioneer from Singer Island, Fla., contrasted the temporary relief that comes when a pastor receives counsel from an unbelieving psychologist and the permanent peace that comes from a dynamic relationship with God. Speaking quietly before the hushed Ridgecrest audience, Brandt said a secular counselor helps people “live with and manage their sins, and be reasonably peaceful. Jesus said, ‘I want you to turn to me for peace.’”
The 82-year-old speaker related personal experiences about how God provided peace despite the death of two wives, the loss of $250,000 in a business transaction, his battle with Parkinson’s disease and other family setbacks.
Not wanting those he counsels to dwell on the past as an excuse for their current behavior, Brandt, also co-author of the book, “The Heart of the Problem,” urged pastors to turn for help with life’s troubles to the Creator, rather than the creation.
Echoing other conference speakers, Brandt criticized pastors who find their sermon outlines on the Internet rather than through intensive Bible study and a dynamic relationship with God.
“Are you depending on inspired material or researched material?” he asked.