Empowered by the Holy Spirit
By Jodi Carlson and Dr. Kristin Beasley
As you serve in ministry, you likely humbly see yourself as a minister or a servant. You are serving as you do because you feel called by God to your role. Your fulfillment comes in using the gifts and skills He has blessed you with for His glory. Seeking prestige or praise probably aren’t high priorities. As such, you may resist the idea that you are empowered. Empowered people are big deal people, right? They are lawyers, politicians, judges, and company CEOs. But … you? Empowered? You bet—thanks to the Holy Spirit!
Someone who is empowered is someone with authority. A judge can issue a sentence because her position empowers her to do so. Empowerment is desirable. The dictionary definition of empower is “to give power or authority to; to authorize.” It can also mean “to enable or permit.” When you are empowered, you are enabled or permitted to do that which your ministry or role requires of you.
The Holy Spirit’s empowering of you happened when you put your faith in Christ. You were likely not aware of this the moment you were “born again.” At the time, most of us have no idea that there is even a term for such a moment! But there is (Jn. 3:3-7). And from that time the Spirit has been with you. You were enabled to live a godly and powerful life right then and there, and you have been empowered ever since. His empowering has likely blessed you in many awesome, specific, and tangible ways.
Empowered … How?
The Bible says, “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:10-11). I like that about the Holy Spirit. He goes where I cannot. He comprehends things I cannot. He does things I cannot. But when it comes to the things I need to do, He equips me to do them.
The Holy Spirit’s empowerment can be surprising, and that in itself is a reminder that it’s not you at all! When He calls to your mind just the right verse to help you withstand temptation or motivate you when you are struggling against sin, that’s not your doing; it’s His! This is a great mystery—the combination of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. It’s not something to be logically figured out. It is simply a gift to behold, accept, and utilize.
The Holy Spirit is also empowering you in ways that may escape your conscious awareness. Think about your prayer life. I don’t know how often you pray, or for how long. I don’t know if you are formal and regimented, or if you are casual and random. Prayer is a fascinating honor that God has given us. I am by no means an expert. But I do know that the Holy Spirit plays a critical part in our prayer life; He empowers our prayers!
When you pray, it’s His role to intercede on your behalf in accordance with God’s will. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Rom. 8:26). I love that! Let this verse give you assurance and confidence in your prayer life. Even when you don’t understand yourself, the Holy Spirit knows your heart and is at work communicating it to God.
We all have (or will have) times when we are so wrought with pain that we cannot find the words to express the depth of our suffering. We also have times of thankfulness beyond comprehension that leave us incapable of adequately expressing our gratitude. And still other times we are just “blah” and don’t know how to ask God to revive us. All of this is covered by the Holy Spirit. He knows your heart and what you need to express. And He literally interprets your prayers to the Father.
Romans 8:27 says, “The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” This is encouraging because it means that if our heartfelt cries are not in line with God’s will, we have an advocate who is working on the sidelines, doing a little intervention. You could think of the Spirit as a sign language interpreter. While, of course, God hears our original voice and requests, He comprehends them according to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation.
Empowered … Why?
The empowering work of the Holy Spirit is not only a privilege to experience; it is a miracle to behold. Think about what it’s like to walk into your house after it has been cleaned from top to bottom … by someone other than yourself. I vividly remember when this happened for me as a child. Though I never saw her cleaning while I was away at school, I witnessed the work of my mom’s hands everywhere when I came home. Her presence was evidenced in the dusted living room, the scrubbed sinks and showers, a fresh clean scent, and my tidied bedroom. In the same way, while we are busy doing life, the Holy Spirit is producing His fruit in us (if we are willing and cooperating, of course). The proof is in our growing spirit of love and joy, peace and patience. A life empowered by the invisible Holy Spirit is evidenced by His visible fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).
But fruit in a bowl that merely sits there looking pretty doesn’t do a whole lot of good. God desires fruit in our lives for a much more practical purpose. It’s through the fruit of the Spirit that we serve the Father and bless those around us.
Did you catch that? There’s a reason the Holy Spirit is with you. There is a reason He is equipping and empowering you. This reason is your purpose in ministry. What good is it to be empowered if you don’t have a role to fulfill that requires empowerment?
Jesus explicitly told us what we are called to do with our lives. He says we are to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39). When you wonder why on earth you’re here, God responds with, “To love.” And while that may sound easy enough, in all practicality, love isn’t love until it is demonstrated. And love shows itself in action, through service. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent [action] his Son as an atoning sacrifice [service] for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 Jn. 4:10-11).
A life of loving and serving God and others is a maximized life, a fulfilled life. Yes, you are called to a life of service. This is what you were made for! What’s more, you are not expected to draw upon your own strength to meet this calling; you are not left to pursue this life of servant- hood on your own. That’s why you have the empowering work of the Holy Spirit in your favor. Embrace it with gusto! It will propel you forward in ministry, wider in your reach for the Kingdom, and deeper in your walk with Jesus Christ.