Empowered to Empower

And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” Luke 24:49 (CSB)

Some people will remember the American Express slogan from the 1970s, “Don’t leave home without it.” It was a successful campaign that ran for 25 years. Although there were alternatives to that credit card, there are no alternatives to being empowered by the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said to the disciples, “stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.”

It isn’t practical to engage in kingdom work until we receive kingdom power:

For Luke, the Holy Spirit was the One who empowered the early church to provide both a spiritual and a moral witness to the world. Spiritually, the Spirit empowered the church’s witness of proclamation, which heralded the truth that Jesus Christ provided a saving way of life. The church’s spiritual mission was to proclaim a Spirit-empowered gospel, which initiated new believers through repentance and faith into Jesus Christ’s redemptive order of life.[1]

Empowered For Service

At the E4 Ministry network, our first core value is Empowered. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to be effective in life and ministry. The command “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) is a continuous process. Some will point back to a point in time when they were initially baptized in the Holy Spirit, but without continually being refilled, they have long since run out of power.

We are most effective when we operate in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit rather than our own strength. That should be obvious, but sadly that does not stop many of us from trying to do things in our own power. A few minutes in God’s presence can do more for us than all the seminars, conferences, and all the other “how to do ministry and build your church” books and materials in existence.

Intuitively, we may know this to be true, yet we keep looking for power in all the wrong places. We join Paul in praying for you: “We pray that you would be energized with all his explosive power from the realm of his magnificent glory, filling you with great hope.” Colossians 1:11 (TPT). We do not need more self-confidence; we need more God-confidence and hope.

In the Power of the Holy Spirit

We know that we have different gifts, abilities, and personalities. Some natural talents may be a hindrance to our effectiveness for God. Someone with great natural ability might not be able to see their need for God’s power. God often must coax those who doubt their ability (i.e., Moses, Gideon, and many of us).

There is always a danger in comparing ourselves to others. Until we learn what it means to rely on the Holy Spirit in everything, our inadequacies will be exaggerated in our own eyes. I wonder if Paul had to encourage Timothy because Timothy was constantly comparing himself to Paul.

The most effective way to overcome these self-comparisons is in the power of the spirit: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Empowered To Empower

As pastors and ministry leaders, we are responsible for discipling and raising up the next generation of pastors and leaders. The word empower is quite prevalent in many contexts today. People talk about empowering different groups of people. Some promote self-empowerment. The Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education illustrates what it means to empower:

Leaders who give their followers power, authority, or influence are said to empower them. When someone is authorized to make decisions, that person is empowered by his superior. Leaders practice empowering by giving others the ability to act. When a teacher trains a student in a special field or skill, that student is empowered by this new knowledge or ability.[2]

There is nothing wrong with this definition of what it means to empower someone else, but it does not go far enough. Holy Spirit empowerment is supernatural. Under this definition, empowerment can be accomplished in any secular or spiritual setting. How does the Holy Spirit empower someone?

The Laying on of Hands

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 1 Timothy 4:14 (NIV)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV)

Some forms of empowerment can be learned through observation or training, but the pattern in the New Testament is empowerment through the laying on of hands. Interestingly, Paul tells Timothy, “Do not neglect your gift,” like saying do not abandon this precious treasure.

I have a hunch that if Paul were writing to many contemporary church leaders, he might be saying, “Do not neglect ‘the laying on of hands.’” The impartation of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts through the laying on of hands is as much needed today as it ever was.

The Holy Spirit has empowered us to be instruments to empower others. Indeed, we want to empower and release new leaders into their field of ministry, but let us not neglect the empowerment that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Steve Ekeroth

 

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

[1] Murray W. Dempster, “Eschatology, Spirit Baptism, and Inclusiveness: An Exploration into the Hallmarks of a Pentecostal Social Ethic,” in Perspectives in Pentecostal Eschatologies: World without End, ed. Peter Althouse and Robby Waddell (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2010), 187.

[2] Michael J. Anthony et al., Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 245.