I’m reading a novel that was first published 71 years ago. I don’t know how it got to my shelf. I never heard of it before. It has a terrible cover. The author is unknown to me. But the 1985 copy that I have has a note on the cover that says that when it was printed the book had already sold 500,000 copies!
The title is NOT MY WILL, by Francena H. Arnold. I’ll not go into the story line. That isn’t what sent me to the keyboard.
What put me here and now on your screen was a description of a professor at a Christian College. It scared me.
It made me pray.
It made me think of some pastors I know.
It caused me to ask hard questions of myself.
And it reminded me of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 where he says that he doesn’t want to preach to others and later find out that he is disqualified.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1 Cor. 9:24-27 NASB
And that helped me pray better.
So here’s the context to the quote that put me here at the keyboard.
Set up: One character is describing to her mother-in-law one of her professors as talented but frustrating. She describes him as a fond lover of his wife, “a zealous worker among the city’s poor; an inspiration to young people in the institute church. The other one,” describing his schizophrenic nature, “. . . (the one I abhor) is self-centered, ambitious, clever, and cynical; almost an evil influence on the students.”
“Dr. King is willfully determined to accomplish things—all in his own power. There is never so much as a hint in his teaching of dependence on God, and so there is no real power. He is always busy doing something, and he really does accomplish some things, but I don’t believe he is making a permanent impact for God on any of the lives he reaches.”
NOT MY WILL, 253.
Is that the kind of thing that the Apostle Paul feared? I don’t know.
But I think it is something we pastors and spiritual leaders ought to fear.
“Lord, keep me from doing anything in my own power. Make everything fail that is not saturated with You. I am—all of us are powerless without Your Holy Spirit’s empowering. Make me dependent upon You. I don’t want to be busy doing things that have no impact on the rising generations. If I inspire people but they don’t live for You, what have I really accomplished? Make me a man who points people to You and only You. Don’t let me ever forget that You must increase and I must decrease. Amen.”