What’s in Your Cistern?
By Bishop Terry Rowland
“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.” ~Proverbs 5:15-17
Cistern: A reservoir of tank for storing water.
In the ministry, I find that minsters don’t always want to take in what they are giving out. “Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well.” Why would we, as ministers, even think of giving out to others what we aren’t willing to take in ourselves?
Too many in ministry seem to have the mentality “don’t do as I do, do as I teach or preach.” Are you able to say with Paul, “As you’ve seen me do, do also”? Wow! Now there was a man who was drinking water from his own cistern. If you cannot drink from your own well of life, then how can you expect to minister effectively to others?
There has to be something in your reservoir, your tank. Something you have tasted of, drawn from, proven right and good by yourself. You’ve got to have something that will sustain you before you can pass that life-giving water to someone else. “You’ve got to prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
What is in your cistern?
Can you answer that question?
Do you know what is in you?
We don’t want to be considered a part of that group in 2 Peter that are called “wells without water,” clouds that are carried with a tempest (2 Peter 2:7).
Some years ago, in one of our Native American Camp Meetings, a young man was preaching. One of our Native American leaders leaned over to our national leader and said, “Is this one of your boys?” He then said, “He stirs up much dust, runs like deer, makes noise like thunder, but NO RAIN.”
Holding a credential, looking like or acting like a preacher doesn’t mean there s water in your well. You can’t minister out when you haven’t allowed God to minister into you.
Jesus said, “He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of your belly will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
One thing about water, if it is flowing, it can be refreshing. If it isn’t flowing, it can become stagnant. When people need water, it is devastating to come to a dry spell. Many leave a church because what they hoped for, looked for, and thought would be there wasn’t there.
As ministers, we must look deep within ourselves and be honest in our evaluation of what is – or isn’t – flowing out of us. Now, Brother, reading and studying the books and thoughts of other men and women is a good thing. But that which comes out of your cistern, your reservoir, needs to be your own and not simply someone else’s. Fresh water comes in through prayer and waiting in the presence of God.
We must be in a position where the Holy Spirit can speak through us. I am digging my own well. I will not leave the digging of my well in someone else’s hands. We must make sure what is flowing into our cistern is coming from the right source.
The Word of God says, “Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of water in the streets.” Get it out of you; let it flow in the streets.
If what you have is from God, you can’t contain it. You will feel the necessity to pour into others. The world is thirsty. Pull out of that cistern you’ve been drinking from and let running water flow. But get this, you must come face-to-face with yourself and be honest. If you can’t drink from your own cistern, then empty it out.
I can remember cleaning out the cistern as a young boy. It was amazing what was in the bottom of that cistern. It would turn your stomach. And then we realized we had been drinking the water that was in that cistern.
Clean your cistern and refill it with much prayer, faithfulness, and good works. Put right thinking into it that lines up with the Word of God.
If I’m going to drink water out of my own cistern, I want good stuff coming out of it.
You know there is a reason the Word of God tells us to know them that labor among us. If we drink from someone else’s cistern, we need to be confident that the water isn’t polluted. Paul said to Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience…” (2 Timothy 3:10).
Personally, I don’t drink from everybody’s cistern, only from those whose doctrine, manner of life, etc., I know.
Every once in a while I ask myself, Am I what I preach? Am I drinking out of my own cistern? Do I need to clean out some things that have settled inside of me that have no business being there?
As a pastor, it doesn’t take long to know where some people are spiritually. They tell you as you listen to their conversation. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Believe me, you can tell if someone is drinking from the fountain that never runs dry!
When we filled that cistern with fresh water you could tell the difference. When you clean your cistern, your reservoir, those around you will know the difference. Your results in ministry will change, too. And as ministers of the Gospel, we want great results for the Kingdom. When you keep pumping the same thing out of your tank, you don’t seem to notice how stale it is.
Don’t you want to be like the man who is like “a tree planted by the rivers of water; that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3)?
Good water brings forth good fruit and will sustain you and bring prosperity.
Remember, “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of water in the streets Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee” (Proverbs 5:15-17).
[Bishop Terry L. Rowland presides over the Ohio District of the Pentecostal Church of God. http://www.ohiopcg.org ]