Hinn is intense. His passion for God, and His people, is contagious. His motto: Love God, live life and love people.
Born in Jaffa, Israel, Hinn was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church. In 1969, wanting to escape the violence and dangerous political climate in Israel, the Hinns moved their family to Canada. It was there that Benny had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Sam calls brother Benny his "spiritual father" and served under him in ministry for 15 years.
In 1996, with his older brother's blessing, Hinn founded The Gathering Place Worship Center, a thriving congregation in Lake Mary, Florida. He went on to author two books: Changed in His Presence and Kissing the Face of God (Charisma House).
Hinn describes himself as a "coach," which isn't surprising since he helps with his son's hockey team. Ministries Today recently sat down with Hinn at his church, where we saw firsthand how he brings hockey-coach intensity to every area of his life.
Ministries Today: What lessons have you learned as a hockey coach that have helped you as a minister?
Hinn: In hockey, like in any other sport, balance is really important! Your ability, your gift and your talent are all affected by your lack of balance. This principle is true not just in hockey but also in the spiritual arena. For example, if you constantly have a weakness and are off balance, you can have all the talent in the world, but there is no longevity.
To me, balance is critical for my longevity in ministry. After I have ministered and poured out to people, hugged necks, prayed and cried with people--when I go home to my wife and kids I must be the same person that was behind the pulpit ministering to the sheep. My greatest concern isn't what people think--it is what my kids think of me. I want them to see their dad as a true, authentic lover and follower of Christ. For me, my home and family are my refuge; they are what I live for.
I can't see myself touching the world and not being able to minister effectively to my family. My kids don't see me as pastor, author or someone famous internationally, to them I'm just dad and I love that, which is what I need. Pastoring is what I do, it is my calling, but that is not who I am.
People tend to fall in love with what they do and find their identity in what they do. Who am I? I'm Erika's husband, a dad, my father's kid, a brother, a friend; anything in ministry has to flow out of that. If my love at home isn't pure and fine, I can't see how my ministry behind a pulpit is going to be real. A lot of times when you see someone who is fake behind the pulpit, they are fake at home.
Ministries Today: What drives you?
Hinn: My greatest passion is to really please the Lord every day of my life. I want to strive to do that on a daily basis like Enoch. Genesis 5:23 mentions that Enoch walked with the Lord 365 years and then God took him. That is really powerful to me: 365 years--there are 365 days in a year! I want to walk with God every day and please Him--that is my greatest passion--because that affects everything else.
It always amazes me that we can become so passionate about a sport and get more excited about [sports than] going to the house of God. I have to be so careful of that because of my love of a game that I grew up playing. I strive for my kids to emulate that the greatest passion they can have is not for things but for the Lord. Because if pleasing God is my passion, everything else will be balanced and my priorities will be right. You go through the Word and see the importance of family.
God loved Adam so much that He brought the woman that was his completion. My wife completes me; part of my passion is my wife, my children, my family and the body of Christ
My greatest passion is to please God and that can affect everything from my life of worship, prayer and to ministry. You can't go wrong if that is your heart.
Ministries Today: So how do you keep your motivations in line?
Hinn: I don't just want to please God, I want to make every day that I am here on Earth really count--for an eternal purpose. Leaving a legacy for my kids and turning people's hearts to Jesus. Whether I am out in the pulpit or playing hockey, I want the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus in my life. I want people to be encouraged by what they hear in a very real, authentic way. That we will live every day to bring glory to God in every area of our lives.
I think if there is a real driving passion to want to be that kind of man that has a heart after God, no matter what.
You make a decision that nothing will stop you from pressing into God.
Ministries Today: So, just how desperate are you for God?
Hinn: Like the woman with the issue of blood that did not give up until she touched Jesus' robe. I am not going to let anything stop me from that pursuit.
The other day when I was ministering, I saw a picture of a man that was drowning and his only desire was for air, that is what I feel like, that is my desperation. It's less and less for ministry and for the things attached to ministry, and it's a greater hunger and thirst for God, His presence and His glory.
Ministries Today: What's the key to living in God's presence?
Ministries Today: Go on...
Hinn: Worship is a condition of life. It's not about how long you sing in your devotional time, although that is an important part of it. Worship is when my heart is surrendered completely to God every day in song and then from that worship becomes a condition of life.
It's in that time when God begins to deal with my heart, bringing correction. Suddenly mistakes I made yesterday I don't make today because of the dealings of the Holy Spirit.
Ministries Today: How important is worship in Sam Hinn's life?
Hinn: It is my whole life! I live to worship God! I can honestly say before God that everything I have today in the ministry and in my family is a direct result of my worship and love for the Lord.
You can't love Jesus Christ without worshiping Him; you can't change without worshiping Him. If we are not changing, it is not because the preacher didn't do a good job, it's because we never entered into His presence and we never worshiped Him. We had our minds on everything else in our lives except Him.
Ministries Today: In your latest book, you write about "kissing the face of God." What does that mean, exactly?
Hinn: For me kissing the face of God is a passion because of the life it gives me. Am I physically kissing the face of God? No. Is it my heart's desire? Yes!
Let me explain. I want to draw so close to God that in my worship life, it seems like I am just that close to kiss His face. God said to Moses that "no man can see Him and live," yet you can experience visions and manifestations of the Lord in His presence that only draw you closer.
When we die and are in God's presence, then we can physically kiss His face. But until then, I want to pursue it every way I can by being faithful, loyal, serving, humble--all of those things play a very important part of drawing closer to God.
So to answer your question: I don't think that I will ever kiss His face here on Earth, but I am not going to stop pursuing it, because I know if I can work on my relationship with God the Father while I am here on earth that passion and desire will be so great that God [will] allow me to be like Enoch and say, "OK, I am going to separate this veil and let you come home." I don't want to go home anytime soon, but that is my pursuit
Ministries Today: What is God's heartbeat?
Hinn: You can look at the world and see that His heartbeat is souls. You can look at the church and His heartbeat would be maturity. That is what I am sensing: God's heart is broken over the lost who have been so turned off by the church and religion. They have broken covenant with Him because they see Him as the church portrayed Him and that is not who He is. His heart is hurting for people whom He already paid the price for but because of the way the church has represented who He is--they have turned their backs on Him.
Then I would see His heart for us, as leaders, to become more like Jesus in every way. We need to grow up and walk with the Spirit of God. Living a life here on Earth that really counts and makes a difference in the lives of others. The world is so turned off by the church. We are so bound up by religiosity and lack of passion for God.
We as pastors need to be open for the Holy Spirit to move and touch the heart of people. We surely have to study to show ourselves approved, yet we have to study because we long and hunger after God not because of our profession. We need to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to speak and minister--because He knows the needs of the people. We need to take what we receive from the Lord out to the world and show them what they are missing. We've got the answer--how we communicate the answer is a whole different matter.
Ministries Today: Do you have a sense for what God is longing to do in the lives of ministers today?
Hinn: I sense in my spirit that God wants to bring cultural change to the heart of man. There is no situation that structure has produced that God can't heal, intervene or break through. It's not about going through the motions anymore. God is exposing it all to say that our hope truly lies in brokenness before God.
We need to allow God to go to some of the deepest recesses of our hearts. We are constantly getting our hearts fixed up but then we go back to the very thing that we are asking God for a new heart for--we are not steadfast or immovable. Our spirits haven't been dealt with; our hearts have [been] dealt with.
David said, "Renew a steadfast spirit within me" [Ps. 51:10, NKJV], that means an unmovable and unshakable spirit no matter what happens. When this situation arises again I will respond differently and not give in to the same temptation again. I won't react the same way because I know that He has done something in my heart. And now, He will renew my spirit and give me a steadfastness that I will not react that same way again.
In my spirit I feel like God wants to shake some of the cultural disappointments, whether it is religious or national in the hearts of people. My heart cries for that--people want to be free from that.
Ministries Today: What insights have you gained by working with young people that can help us reach this generation?
Hinn: In a word: mentoring. Kids are saying: "I hear what you are saying ... but ... can you show me? Can you walk me through it, take my hand and lead me?" Although they may know the direction they want to be walked with. It's one thing to say to them, "I love you, I trust you, just run with the vision God has given you." So many of them are saying, "I am honored that you trust me so much to run, but I am scared ... can you help me?"
God is calling us to lead the next generation, to become "spiritual dads."
Take them under your wing and show them the ropes. Teach them some of the skills you have learned; show them some of the mistakes you made so that they will not make the same mistakes you made.
Ministries Today: What insights would you share with a young layman or leaders that will help them endure in ministry?
Hinn: If we are going to truly impact and touch this generation and have our voices heard, here are the things that we need to do:
1. Live and speak with integrity. We must be men and women of integrity (see Ps. 15:1-2).
2. Serve the Lord with passion. Whatever you are called to do for His kingdom, do it with all your heart. We are working for the Lord and not man (see Col. 3:23).
3. Live to give. Live your life with generosity as the foundation of your ministry (see Prov. 11:25).
4. Succeed with humility. Be a man or a woman who doesn't know that he or she is a somebody. Treat everyone with the same kind of courtesy and compassion. "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor" (Prov. 29:23).