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Ministry Without Heart Brings Harshness

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“Ministry Without Heart Brings Harshness”

(Excerpt of a letter written to my children in the ministry.)

While driving down the road two Saturday mornings ago, I felt a need to inquire of the Lord how I was doing and what areas I needed to work on in myself.  In my tears I struggled with these thoughts.  Life is a series of small corrections.

(I humbly share these few lines with my family in hopes that something may give pause for insight into your lives since all of you are involved with ministry at some level.  Your tolerance of my sermonizing style is gratefully appreciated.)

1.  Ministry without Heart

JONAH:  It took God building Jonah a prayer room and giving him an attitude adjustment before he was willing to go to Ninevah.  When Jonah arrived, he preached an eight-word sermon.  Oh yes, he got results but his heart wasn’t in the ministering.  Ministry without heart brings harshness.

As a pastor, I had a problem with saints who tried to live for God, without putting their heart into it.   I’m sure God has a problem with me doing the same as well.

When I have ministry without heart, I have no fire, no zeal, no feeling, and no emotion.  Neither the saints nor the sinners can feel anything when I speak, if I don’t feel anything first. I become hollow, shallow, lack luster, empty, and just go through the motions.  Ability may carry for a while, but it only goes so far.  The fire and zeal of the Holy Ghost is what carries me across the finish line.

Never permit yourself to go-through-the-motions.  Fear lest the work of God be taken lightly, considered mundane, or unimportant.  Put your heart into working for the Lord.  If we are to be judged for our labors, then may God see in that day that we served Him with our whole heart.  The scripture, “Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a perfect heart as did his father David” has always scared me.

2.  Ministry without Heart, brings Harshness

JONAH:  When he preached, it was without regard for his hearers, he was just doing his job.  Then, when his preaching was over, he went and sat on a hill to enjoy the view of God’s wrath.  His gourd vine’s demise was needed to wake him up.  God has ways of giving folks a wake-up call.

SAUL was harsh, he was chosen of God, anointed and his office secure as long as he lived, but he was quick to throw daggers and spears at David.  You can be king and still be harsh. God loved David.  David responded to Saul’s harshness once by cutting off the bottom of Saul’s garment, and then David quickly repented because he saw where it led him and to what it led him.

Our life’s message, however true, is jeopardized by harshness.  Harshness is no accident.  It is not something that creeps out in a comment, or action, or even the pulpit and then dies there.  It is the result of a heart that is not tender.

There is no excuse for harshness. Harshness in the home is unacceptable to God. Harshness in business dealings is unacceptable to God. Harshness in the pulpit is unacceptable to God.

It’s hard to preach the Love of God with a clinched fist. Our message is beautiful.  It is the only saving message.  Never let harshness be part of the program.  It is possible to be holy without being harsh. It is possible to be right without be crude.  It is possible to be strong without being mean. Watch your spirit.

Harshness affects every area of your life, for it becomes a way of life.  Its ways are learned.  They can also be “unlearned” by the help of the Holy Ghost and a want-to. Watch your words, your answers, and your retorts.  The Holy Ghost is grieved by our actions and our words.

Don’t shame the call of God on your life or the gifts that you have been given, by speaking harshly to your wives or husbands. Speak kindly to your children. Practice the Love of God and the Tenderness of the spirit by being “Kindly Affectioned” one toward the other. Each of you can distinctly remember unkind words or cutting remarks made by others or me.  Some things are forever imprinted on your memory.  I will always feel a need to apologize to my children for my past harshness!!  Please break the cycle.  It has to stop somewhere.

Harshness will destroy the tenderness of your marriage. Your spouse’s feelings for you will diminish.  Only tenderness can fan and renew the flames of love.  Everyone sees it, everyone hears it.  The children know it when they hear it; even the dog knows what harshness sounds like.  How come we can’t recognize it in ourselves?  Being “right” gives us no reason to be harsh.

Be tender and loving one to another.  If you are harsh, the saints pick up on that, the ministry does too and soon your influence is damaged.  Ministry that is harsh is also unkind. Unkind words damage for life.  If you value your home, speak peaceably, not harshly.

May your homes and our churches be little havens of joy, peace and comfort in the Holy Ghost and to each other.

From where I stand and shine the flashlight back in your direction, these are some of the things in the road that I see.  Please step carefully.

With all my love in the Service of the Lord,


Written by Martyn Ballestero

January 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Christian Living

7 Responses

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  1. Daddy..This is a beautiful and Challenging letter for sure.. I have had to recheck myself many times along lifes way and make sure My attitude and heart was right at home and the Church. I will remember this letter for future reflecting as Im sure Ill need it again in this human race:) Love you so much!


    January 6, 2010 at 12:36 pm

  2. I’ve known your family since I was a child; played with your sister and enjoyed having your mom and dad in my home. The Ballestero family all have a gentle kindness I greatly admire.

    Linda Pomeroy

    January 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm

  3. Wonderful article! Thank you for your exemplified gentleness in the pulpit “set a watch at my mouth O Lord”

    kelly holland

    January 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  4. Great letter; absolutely the truth!

    Seth Pomeroy

    January 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm

  5. Truth. Well put. Wisdom to take AND pass on. Thank you. Perfect timing.

    lynn rice

    January 7, 2010 at 12:06 pm

  6. Bro. Ballestero
    As I read this I couldn’t help but think of the man God allows me to love for 34 years. He was the most tender man I have ever known. The church in Augusta knew what it was to be treated so tender. He was truly a “tender shepherd”. He was a tender husband and Dad and Poppy. I will never forget him and how I miss the “tenderness”. It’s hard to find these days.
    Thanks for being another example of tenderness.

    Love and appreciate your ministry,
    Judy Adkison

    Judy Adkison

    January 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

  7. great!!!


    January 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm

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