by Tim Bisagno
“Please, someone come kill this God-bashing giant!”
Saul pleaded. God spoke. David showed up. I believe David was surprised, even shocked, that no one else was standing under the “Giant Killers Wanted” sign.
David killed that giant, but that wasn’t his greatest accomplishment. First, David showed up. Then God showed off. How many times do we not see God show off, just because we were too afraid to show up?
Ministry is full of problems. Many of them, big enough to send a guy packin’. Even a guy after God’s own heart. That’s a problem. Nobody likes problems. Nobody likes to fight giants. But David wasn’t “nobody.” And neither are you.
Reality is, fifteen hundred pastors quit the ministry every month from all denominations. Only one in five seminary students are still in ministry eight years after graduation. Only one in ten men who begin in ministry at age 21 are still in it at 65.
In 1962, Owner Branch Rickey brought up Jackie Robinson from the minors to the Brooklyn Dodgers, as the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Both knew it would be rough. “Jackie,” Mr. Rickey said, “Can you take it when they call you the ‘n-word’, spit or throw garbage at you?” “Yes sir,” said Jackie, “God built me to last.”
God built us to last too. If you’re in ministry, or even considering ministry, thank you. I’m honored to be in your tribe.
Hello. My name is Tim and I’ve decided to never leave the ministry. Ever.
“Ministry: the easiest, yet hardest job in the world.” As a kid, I heard my dad say it many times. Intuitively, I knew it was true. After years of unsuccessful draft dodging, it was clear; I couldn’t “not step” under the “Giant Killers Wanted” sign. To do anything else would be to wear Saul’s armor.
If you have ever stepped under the “Giant Killers Wanted” sign, you have giant killin’ in your bones. Like it or not, you’re done. Completely ruined for the ordinary.
Giant problems are real, and “real” can never be avoided. But, it can be prepared for. David got pretty bored watching sheep all day. God used David’s down-time to prepare him for the problems ahead. Probably unbeknown to David, he was following God’s heart the day that he first picked up a slingshot and flung his first rock at a tree, learned guitar and wrote his first song. All of which later became God’s calling card in David’s life to remind him;
“He, God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail younorgive you upnorleave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless,norforsake,norlet you down, or relax My hold on you. Assuredly not.” Heb. 13:5b (Amp)
Knowing that to be true, David risked it all, and we can too. Risk initiated by man can be suicide. But risk born from the throne room of Heaven brings supernatural boldness. Always powered by faith. Enough faith to kill a giant.
And when necessary, enough to step back under the “Giant Killers Wanted” sign.
Over the course of 27 years of ministry, I’ve learned a lot from David. David used what he had. He did a lot with a little. David was a great starter. He was also a great finisher. He knew, life is pointless, unless there’s a point. The point is to serve God’s purposes in our generation. The best we can, for as long as we can.
David was a great sinner. But, David was a great repent-er. After every problem David ever had, he kept reenlisting, always returning to stand under the sign. For David I think it was simple; just keep coming back.
David had a problem that day. His name was Goliath. But, Goliath was about to become the best thing that ever happened to David.God uses problems to build our faith. He uses them to build His Kingdom. And sometimes,
God uses a problem as an invitation into the tension of bringing about the best thing that ever happens to us.
I like David. I like him a lot. David kept the main thing, the main thing. Possessing all along the freedom to wear what fit. But for him, it wasn’t about the fight or the fit. It never was.
After calmly picking up a few stones and politely waiting for Goliath to finish his verbal onslaught, David went to war. Of all the things David could have done, he went “total promoter” on everyone within earshot. Like the job of any good promoter, David drew attention to The Star. God. Within throwing distance of Dave’s biggest problem, he says to the world, “This is not my battle, it’s the Lord’s. HE will deliver. Today the whole world will see – There is a One True God!”
David always looked at a problem as an opportunity with a little sweat on it. He came to promote God. So he did.
Promoting God is dangerous. But it’s more dangerous to assume that someone else will promote Him, if we don’t. What if David had done that? We’ll have many opportunities to quit. There’s always a reason to not go forward. Not only for David, but for us and those who come after us; the decision to go forward is always made in faith.
In God’s sovereignty He chooses the messenger. In His grace, through every generation, the message that there is “One True God” is still advanced on the humble feet of warriors willing to show up and take a stand to the end. Acts 13:36 says, “David served God’s purposes in his own Generation.”
The “Giant Killers Wanted” sign is still up. In fact, it’s never been taken down.
My father has three or four life-long friends. To my delight, and to their honor, they’ve each served God’s purpose in their Generation for over 60 years. Since I was a kid I’ve always experienced a deep sense of satisfaction every time I see them together. But, my favorite moment is watching them part from each other. Without fail, they give each other a wave, a hug, handshake or high-five, encouraging each other always with these parting words, “Stay in the battle!”
A sling and a stone was David’s weapon of choice. Mine is a bow and arrow. I’m an avid archer. Practice is important and I love to do it. Field points are the common style of arrowheads used while practicing. It’s my privilege to offer you a handful of my personally tested field points. I pray they find you, like David, always killing giants.
Let It Go: To finish well, forgiveness is our only option.
Work Hard: Like my father’s father taught him, I’m forever grateful my father taught me to work hard.
Walk Humbly: Humility is as basic to ministry as oxygen is to breathing. How can you not walk humbly?
Be Yourself: Again I say, “be yourself.”
Do Things First Class: If it’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. Very well.
Rest, Relax and Have Fun: My dad always says, “My least favorite people in the world are preachers that act like preachers.” My grandfather’s parting words after 60 years of ministry, “don’t forget to have fun.” – Excellent advice.
Function in Your Gifts: Do what comes naturally. Don’t be afraid to make a change if necessary.
Love the Truth – Love God’s Word.
Enjoy a Hobby: For the sake of The Kingdom, please enjoy a hobby.
Be an Encourager: …And not just from the pulpit.
More field points can be found in the book Wisdom for Life by my dad, John Bisagno. I honor him for 61 years of full-time, faithful, giant killin’ service. His wisdom has affected millions. None more deeply than I.
Friends, now it’s our turn to stay in the battle. To serve God’s purposes in our generation. It’s our turn to show up. More than ever, it’s our turn, our time to draw attention to The Star. The best we can – for as long as we can. Amen.
No matter your battle, the “Giant Killers Wanted” sign is still up. By God’s grace, I look forward to meeting you under that sign. When we do meet, let’s celebrate His goodness together with a wave, hug, handshake or high-five grouped with the parting words, “Stay in the battle.”
From one hopeful giant killer to another, your new friend,
*Information gathered from Barna Group, Dr. John Bisagno Pastor Emeritus, Houston’s First Baptist Church, Dr. Denny Autrey, Southwest Theological Seminary, Dean and Professor of Pastoral Ministries.
Tim Bisagno grew up in Houston, TX as the son of a prominent pastor. He took the traditional path of acquiring a classic ministry-education, but his heart was not in it. Struggling, Tim unsuccessfully used drugs and alcohol to quit his call to ministry. Instead, Tim discovered his desperate need for God. Through this sobering experience, he not only grew in knowing Jesus, but also developed a deep desire to make Him known. He has since served from youth pastor, musician’ary to 40 countries, to senior pastoring. Tim founded the Dove award winning TV show, MXTV, in 1997, where he continues to currently serve full-time. Creatively rePresenting God’s Word to the world, MXTV’s passion is that this media generation will encounter God, resulting in their salvation.