On August 30 through September 1 this year, nearly 100 pastors from around Haiti will gather in Gonave Bay for the annual Pastors’ Conference sponsored by Starfish Ministries. It will be a time of renewal as we fellowship with each other, sharing the joys and sorrows of the previous year of ministry and joining together to worship our Lord. I am also looking forward to challenging and encouraging these men from God’s Word as I hope to provide biblical instruction that will equip them for ministry as they return home.
Some of these pastors studied at the seminary in Port-au-Prince. Others have virtually no formal education. But for most of them, this conference is the only ongoing training they receive all year. So I take this opportunity very seriously, asking God to use this teaching for His glory in the lives of these pastors and their congregations.
The theme this year is “Developing Leadership within the Church.” Haitian pastors – like their American and Canadian counterparts, I suppose – have a tendency to try to do too much of the ministry themselves. Sometimes it is easier to do the work on your own than it is to mentor someone else through the process. In some cases, pastors may question the qualifications of people in their congregations for leadership roles. And it may even be that there is fear for some in relinquishing certain responsibilities. But whatever the reasons, too often leadership is not being developed, and the local body suffers for it. That is what we will address this year.
As part of the encouragement and equipping of these pastors in this area, we will look at Moses. In Exodus 18, Moses is trying to do too much on his own, and Jethro, his father-in-law, tells him so: “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone’” (Exodus 18:17, 18). Jethro then gives Moses this advice:
Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. -Exodus 18:19-21
In this short exhortation, Jethro gives Moses five instructions for developing godly leaders:
- Pray for them (“represent the people before God and bring their cases to God”)
- Teach them God’s Word (“warn them about the statutes and the laws”)
- Teach them to develop godly character (“make them know the way in which they must walk”)
- Show them how to do the work of ministry (“and what they must do”)
- Share the work with them (“place such men over the people”)
We will break down each of these instructions and explore how a pastor can implement them in developing leaders within his church. But these principles are more than just my subject matter. They have become my method as well. And even now, as I prepare to teach, I have taken to heart the instruction to first pray for the men I will be teaching.
And I invite you to pray with me. Pray for these servants of our Lord who shepherd His flock in some of the most difficult circumstances. Pray that God would prepare their hearts for what He would teach them.
And pray specifically for the leaders God would raise up within these churches. Pray that God would give the pastors wisdom to identify them. Pray that God would prepare them for the ministry He is calling them to. And pray that as this discipleship takes place, our Lord would be exalted and His Church would be served.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp
P.S. I am grateful to Duane Anderson of the American Indian Bible Institute for his teaching in this area. He has developed many training resources, which are freely available at www.aibi.org.
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