not alone

The Spirit Is Our Companion

Excerpt from Calling Out the Called: Discipling Those Called to Ministry by Scott Pace and Shane Pruitt

Chapter 7
Relying on the Spirit

Hours before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that his death and departure were imminent. But as he prepared to leave them, he assured them that he would not leave them alone. Jesus promised that God would send “another Helper” like him “to be with you forever” (John 14:16 ESV, emphasis added). The comfort of the Spirit’s eternal companionship was reinforced through the assurance of the personal and abiding nature of his presence: “He remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:17, emphasis added). Because of the Spirit’s indwelling nature and his divine power and universal presence, Jesus explained to his disciples that it was beneficial for him to depart and send the Spirit (John 16:7).

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he fulfilled his promise and sent the Holy Spirit to reside in and among his people. So now, when we trust in Christ, we are not only assured that we will dwell with him eternally, but he also assures us that he will dwell in us personally. As a result, the Spirit is our companion in life and for ministry. And his abiding presence reassures us with some important truths that bolster our faith and strengthen our confidence.

First, as we pursue our calling, we can be certain that the Spirit walks with us. Throughout our life and ministry, we have God’s promise that we are not alone. The Spirit is our trustworthy traveling companion who reassures us of his divine presence. Just as God encouraged Joshua in his preparation to inherit the promised land, we can be strong and courageous because we have the Spirit as our divine guide who walks behind us, beside us, and before us (Deut. 31:8).

His presence is essential because ministry can be terrifying and lonely. Few recognize the weight and emotional strains ministers carry. We can often feel isolated or misunderstood. Loneliness arises because we can struggle to have in-depth relationships, especially with those we serve, as we try to balance leadership and appropriate levels of transparency. In difficult seasons, it’s particularly challenging because we can feel abandoned or targeted by people’s frustration. But the Spirit’s presence is with us. He will strengthen us, and he will help us (Isa. 41:10).

In addition to walking with us, we are assured that the Spirit watches over us. Along with his divine presence, we can rely on the Spirit for his provision and protection. His provision is necessary because when we surrender to God’s call to ministry, we trust him to provide for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The apostle Paul learned how to be content and to rely on the Lord to meet every need, and he assures us, “My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He also reminds us that through the Spirit his grace is sufficient for all our needs as well (Eph. 3:16; 2 Cor. 12:9–10).

The Spirit also offers us protection from our spiritual and worldly enemies. We are stewards of the gospel and our gifts, and through the Holy Spirit we are challenged to guard the treasure that has been entrusted to us (2 Tim. 1:14). But the security we have in our ministries is not the result of our strength or wisdom; it’s only because, like Paul, we can say, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12, emphasis added). The spiritual battles against the flesh, the culture, and the adversary all require the power of God’s Spirit to protect us.

As he walks with us and watches over us, the Bible also promises that the Spirit works through us. At some level we all struggle with insecurities and inadequacies, especially when we recognize the magnitude of our calling. While we know that the redemptive work of Christ affirms our personal value and qualifies us to be used by God, our inabilities can cause us to question our practical value. But as we saw in the previous chapter on the church, the Spirit equips us with spiritual gifts to fulfill God’s will for our lives. Through us the Spirit accomplishes God’s work beyond what we could ever achieve in our own strength or ability.

Paul’s familiar prayer for the Ephesians highlights this point even though it is often overlooked when we reference it: “Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20, emphasis added). Earlier in his prayer Paul identified the source of his power and strength within us as “his Spirit” (Eph. 3:16), and now he emphasizes the unbelievable reality that the supernatural work that exceeds our imagination will be accomplished by his Spirit working through us. What an amazing privilege! But the gratitude and joy that flood our hearts ultimately doesn’t celebrate us. It overflows in continuous praise to the One who graciously works in and through us (Eph. 3:21).

Perhaps the greatest work God performs through us is allowing us to participate in his redeeming work as we share the gospel. And the Spirit’s role is instrumental in our evangelism efforts. In fact, prior to his ascension, Jesus promised that the Spirit would empower us to be his witnesses as we proclaim the gospel message and fulfill his global mission (Acts 1:8). The Spirit not only gives us boldness and courage to share the good news, but he’s also the only one who can remove the veil and penetrate the darkness of the human heart with the light of the gospel that leads people to faith in Christ (2 Cor. 3:16–17; 4:2–6). Our confidence to share the good news is not based on our persuasive ability; it’s founded entirely on the power of the gospel and the promise of the Spirit to work through us!

Since the Spirit is our companion, we can live and serve with confidence knowing that he walks with us, watches over us, and works through us. As we navigate the challenges of life, but particularly those in ministry, each of these truths will be essential as we learn to lean on him.

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