Many people read this blog. People who serve in a variety of vocations read these words. If you are a Christ-follower, there is a sense in which you are a minister (servant) no matter where you are and no matter what your vocation. Such ministries are important — very important.
There are others who serve churches in very public roles. Sometimes you may be referred to as preacher, pastor, minister, etc. I was thinking today about what I want to remember in this particular role. Much of what I will suggest is applicable regardless of your role or occupation.
God can use ministers to be a breath of fresh air in a church. The enabling power for this kind of presence is the Spirit of God. The challenge, however, is for us to make godly choices regarding our ministry.
1. Choose to be gracious. I spoke with a couple visiting our church about a month ago. They were from out of town. They told me a little about their congregation and their minister. They didn’t say they liked him or didn’t like him. They simply said, "He’s a bit cocky, you know." There was not much I could say.
2. Teach/preach from the overflow. Do you preach each Sunday? Do you deliver a message? Do you teach a Bible class? There is absolutely no substitute for reading and studying the Bible. There is no substitute for being prepared. This teaching/preaching is a sacred calling worthy of time, effort, and prayer. Yes, I read widely. However, in this role I must always be reading something that will help me think about what I will be preaching. Some shortcuts may come with time and experience. Other shortcuts (i.e., copying sermons from the Internet and preaching them as my own, etc.) will in fact shortchange the congregation and will be a detriment to the integrity of my ministry.
3. Love the people in your congregation and community. If you love these people, they will usually be forbearing and forgiving. If they sense you don’t love them, then it really won’t matter what else you do. For a couple of years, a young minister worked with a good church in a smaller community. His last year there, he berated them publicly and talked down to them. He made it known to the others on the staff with him that he was frustrated with this church and their backward thinking. He then resigned and abruptly moved on to a larger church in a large city. Many people in his former congregation feel like he used them. Right or wrong, they believe that he came to that church so that he could posture himself to move to something bigger and better. What struck me as especially sad is that these people felt used by him instead of loved by him.
4. Be God-conscious instead of self-conscious. It is so easy to get consumed by ego. If we are not careful, we will believe that what really counts is to be well-known, to be in much demand as a speaker, and to preach for a church that many people are paying attention to. As a result of this focus, it is easy to compare, to become jealous, to "keep score," and to crave recognition. It is tempting to want to become "Christian" celebrities, hoping that people will clamor for our attention. Far better to remember our calling and aim to please God, trusting that he is enough.
5. Focus on your own walk with God. Far too many ministers treat congregations as if they were science experiments. "Let’s do this to them and see what happens." Others become far too focused on trying to will the church to do this or that. Do you know that the very best thing I can do for the congregation I serve is to simply be who God has called me to be. I do far more good by focusing on my own love for God and for others. I do far more good by being a godly person who loves his wife and children.
(Again, I think these are useful for those who are not "ministers" as well.)
What else would you add to this list?