Seven Lessons from Down Under
John Piper recently spent two weeks ministering in Australia. Here are seven lessons I learned along the way traveling with Pastor John — both in conversation with him and through observing his example and interaction with the Aussies.
1. More than anything else, Satan hates and opposes our efforts to evangelize. This is not based on a specific text, but is apparent because Satan is a liar and so hates the truth of the gospel. Satan is a murderer and the ultimate death is hell. And Satan hates the advance of Jesus' mission in the world through gospel-telling.
2. It is not enough to vaguely do things for the glory of God. Matthew 6:9 gives the clear guideline that the hallowing of God's name should be the ultimate, conscious end for which we do everything in life. There are other biblical aims in the Christian life—love for God, love for people, personal holiness, missions—but they are all leading to one ultimate aim: the glory of God. And if that is in God’s mind, then it should be in ours as well.
3. God approves of us in Jesus, and we should receive and enjoy God's acceptance of us. But this is not the final end of God's love. If you don't move beyond this, you short-circuit God's love and end on yourself. Most ultimately, God's love frees us to forget about ourselves and enjoy praising God.
4. When it comes to the fruitfulness of the work of the ministry in this life, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). God hides most of the results from us in this life, but one day he will show us the way he weaves our efforts into shaping the story of people's lives that we've invested into.
5. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). Your effort in ministry is one means of many that God will use in someone’s life. When you open your mouth to share the gospel, that moment may be the result of 1,000 prayers that have been prayed on behalf of that person.
6. Be constant in prayer. This doesn't mean long prayers, necessarily—but keep up a spirit of prayer and dependence on God by beginning everything you do in prayer, and finishing everything you do in thanksgiving. Nothing stokes faith in prayer like the promises of God. When you pray, take hold of specific promises in which God is holding out to you his forthcoming grace.
7. When praying for someone long-term, such as a family member, get into the habit of praying for small victories in the form of today's spiritual influence on them. This will prevent vain repetition, as well as get specific and will help you develop eyes to see the answers to these small victories.