Pride. Process. Stewardship. Work.
Four things come to mind as I think about the work that God did and continues to do in my heart after coming home from Tanzania: Pride. Process. Stewardship. Work.
If I could express myself artistically, I would draw a man out on a tree limb with a pair of scissors cutting off a small twig with a tiny leaf, proud of the work he is doing. Then, zooming out, the observer would see the giant tree the man is stuck in, with the word “pride” carved into the tree. I am the man. The tree is the pride in my heart that God faithfully and continually reveals and for which He died to forgives me. I am working to kill this sin in my life, as John Owen rightly said, “be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” I am thankful for God’s mercy and grace.
Pride started to rear its ugly head in Tanzania when a man introduced himself to me as an “apostle.”
So many thoughts and emotions quickly went through my head.
Yusuph asked me to use this trip as an opportunity to train and equip pastors and church planters with tools and knowledge in recognizing and fighting the false teaching of the prosperity gospel running rampant in Africa. Some of what I planned to teach pastors came to mind:
- A zeal for God’s Word (Psalm 119:139).
- The need to correct false teaching (Matthew 24:24, Jeremiah 23:16, 1 John 4:1-6).
- The sufficiency of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- The need for expositional preaching (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
These are right and good, but my motivation behind teaching in this moment failed to the sin of pride.
“I’m right, and you’re wrong.”
Paul’s words to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:24-26) were not a description of me.
2 Timothy 2:24-26, 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
God faithfully used my time in Tanzania to continue the work he has started in me (Philippians 1:6) to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) and to grow in sanctification toward Christlikeness (Ephesians 4:13).
It has taken me many years and painful failures to realize how much our relationship with Jesus is a growth process. Thankfully, the Lord has placed many Priscilla and Aquilas in my life at
different times and places to take me aside and explain to me the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).
I can say, as John Newton once said, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world, but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”
In Tanzania, the Lord allowed me to be like Aquilla. God gave me opportunities to exercise the burning passion in my heart to make Jesus known more accurately through the preaching and teaching of God’s word. God allowed me to use the knowledge He has been entrusting to me over the past few years.
God has used my local church to bless me with the time and resources to pursue continuous theological education. Additionally, He has used faithful friends to disciple me along the way. Thousands of hours of work, conversations, reading, writing, and teaching have shaped my understanding of who God is, how He has revealed Himself, and why it matters. He has blessed me abundantly.
But, He has not blessed me so that I can be a glutton of information. Instead, He has called me to share and has given me a burden and passion for making Him known through the preaching and teaching of His Word.
I went to Tanzania thinking that I do this well, but God is faithful, and He exposed a sinful root of pride in my heart. At that moment, I was not stewarding the resources and knowledge that God has given me well. Instead, I was using them to puff myself up (1 Corinthians 8:1). I did not think of the now thirty-seven-year process through which God has worked in my own life, bringing me to this moment and how He was graciously allowing me to be a part of His process in someone else.
Thankfully the Lord is faithful to will and to work for His good pleasure.
I was able to do a one-day training event by teaching a group of pastors and church planters through some of what God has spoken in Scripture. I shared the Gospel (highlighting the cost of discipleship), the sufficiency of Scripture, and the call to expositional preaching. I had hours of conversations about what Scripture says about the church, church planting, sharing the Gospel, teaching, God’s will and sovereignty, pastoral responsibility for their flock, congregational responsibility for protecting the teaching, and not wrongly binding of the conscience of another believer.
That same man, who introduced himself to me as an “apostle,” ended our many days together by telling me, “Jarrid, you have helped me… I want to teach the Words of God.” Each of these men pictured below desperately desires to make much of God by following Him, His Word, and through various methods of either preaching or teaching His Word because it is God alone that changes the lives of His people.
This is the work that I love. This is the work my church allows me to do week in and week out with teenagers and adult leaders. This is the purpose for which God has blessed me with so many resources. As Jeremiah put it in Jeremiah 20:9, “…there is a burning fire in my heart, shut up in my bones, and I am weary of holding it in. I cannot!”
I am thankful for my time in Tanzania with Twelve21 Global. I am grateful for the opportunity that the Lord provided. I am amazed by His work in my own heart and the hearts of others.
Lord willing, I will return next summer with a group of students and some adults to support the work that continues there.
Until then, I will continue to root out pride in my own life, grow in the process of sanctification by the ordinary means of grace, seek to steward well what God has given me, and work hard to make Jesus known through the preaching and teaching of His Word right where God has placed me
Pastor Jarrid Hawkins