Rev. Dr. Nicole Martin preaches to pastors at the Robert Treat Hotel. Photo courtesy of Pillar College.
By Tom Campisi
At Pillar College’s Pastor’s Appreciation Breakfast in Newark, Rev. Dr. Nicole Martin preached a powerful message about divine dependence, divine discontentment, and being divinely driven.
Pillar’s ninth annual breakfast for pastors, spouses, and pastoral staff, held on October 11 at the Robert Treat Hotel, featured a keynote sermon from Rev. Dr. Martin, who quoted the book of Jeremiah when she said the Word of God in the heart of a leader was like “a “burning fire shut up in their bones.” That fire was evident from beginning to end, as Martin exhorted, encouraged, and brought many pastors to their feet.
The Senior Vice President of Ministry Impact at the American Bible Society, Martin opened by speaking about the difference between good and Godly leaders.
“The difference between a good leader and a Godly leader is calling. Good leaders step up to the plate because they can get something from it. Godly leaders step up to the plate because God can get something from them,” she said.
“This world, the Church, and our universities need Godly leaders who are not leading because they want to, but leading because they have to. We need Godly leaders who are compelled by a call that goes way beyond any of their ambitions…[Godly] leaders recognize that leadership is not for the faint of heart.”
Dr. Wayne Dyer, Vice President of Strategic Alliances, the coordinator of the breakfast, echoed those sentiments and thanked pastors for attending and partnering with Pillar College in Kingdom ministry.
“I recognize that you have a stress-filled vocation and I am hopeful that our breakfast ministered encouragement and spiritual blessing to you,” he said. “We live in increasingly dark times and must encourage one another while it is yet day. We want you to feel encouraged and appreciated.”
The breakfast included a prelude and postlude by The Salvation Army Brass Band. Rev. Tim Mercaldo, executive director of Worship Plus, led the pastors and leaders in a rousing time of corporate worship with standards “How Great Thou Art,” “How Great Is Our God,” and “Worthy Is the Lamb.”
Pastors were also invited to take advantage of Pillar College’s Church Partnership Program, which provides educational resources and scholarships that make Christian education more affordable to students and future ministry leaders.
“We are the only accredited, Christ-centered, Bible-based college in the state of New Jersey. We are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the church community,” Dr. Dyer said.
In her message, Rev. Dr. Martin noted how the struggles of Jeremiah resonate with being a pastor in today’s culture and climate.
“Jeremiah is described as a weeping prophet and as someone who can cry at the drop of a hat,” she said. “Jeremiah makes it okay to be angry with God…Is it possible to love and worship God and be frustrated with God at the same time? Every once in a while, I hold two emotions in my prayers: ‘God, I love you, but I need you to work this out.’ ”
The book of Jeremiah also encourages pastors and leaders to be “divinely dependent.”
“The only way we can get through the hardship of the call is if we learn to be dependent on God,” Rev. Dr. Martin said. “When we start to feel overpowered…God is teaching us to become divinely dependent.”
Like bold and brave Jeremiah, Christian leaders should also have “divine discontentment” when it comes to addressing the status quo.
“We need leaders who are willing to do what’s right, even when it’s costly and unpopular,” Dr. Martin said. “We need leaders who are willing to love unconditionally, speak unashamedly, and live unapologetically…”
Dr. Martin used a testimony from The Flying Wallendas family as she encouraged attendees to being “divinely driven” in fulfilling the divine mission God has given each one of us: “Sometimes we feel like we’re walking on the tightrope between two buildings while everyone below us stands there and watches. Our enemies are waiting for us to fall. Our supporters are cheering and wondering whether or not we will make it.”
In her closing prayer, Dr. Martin prayed for the assembled pastors and leaders, especially those who are feeling weary or even questioning their call.
“Holy Spirit, I pray that you will give every person in this room a divine dependence on you. Help us, God, to recognize we cannot do this without you. I pray that every leader in this room would embrace the divine discontentment and be okay not being okay. I pray that you would give every leader a reminder that we are divinely driven.”
Pillar College President Dr. Rupert Hayles, Jr. commented on the timeliness of the message, saying, “This should resonate with every single one of us.”
He also encouraged the pastors as the breakfast came to a close.
“Thank you for being here, but especially thank you for what you do, said Dr. Hayles, who quoted John 21: 15-18. In that portion of Scripture, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Jesus answers Peter each time by saying, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.” (NIV)
“As pastors and leaders, God is sending people your way—to feed them, take care of them, and love them,” Dr. Hayles said.
NOTES: Pillar College, founded in 1908, has locations in Newark, Somerset, Paterson and Plainfield, NJ, with the new instructional site in Whiting (Ocean County) scheduled to open in January 2023. On October 11, Dr. Martin also spoke at Pillar’s Women’s Empowerment for Ministry Luncheon. The Pastor’s Appreciation Breakfast featured ample time for fellowship and networking with representatives from several ministries and organizations on hand, including: MasterWorks, Inc., Fellowship Deaconry Ministries, Reilly Financial Group, WMCA-570 AM, Dan Buttafuoco and Associates, Historical Bible Society, Worship Plus, Jesus Book and Gift Store, and other local organizations.