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Counsel As You Step Into Ministry

TIME FLIES QUICKLY

Time has flown by quickly. Nothing good comes to those who do not take a moment to glance around every now and then. This line has a lot of truth to it. We may lose out on some of life's more subtle lessons if we do not follow counsel from the Holy Spirit when it comes to ministry, especially if we are in a rush to make an impact. It took me until the age of twenty-three to deliver my first sermon and move into ministry. It has been seventeen years since and there is no looking back.

 

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When I began, I had no formal theology education, no ministry training, and by the grace of God, the ministry I joined began teaching me. However, after travelling for a year and a half, I knew very soon that I was out of breath.

My time in ministry had been much more demanding than I had imagined it to be. In my state of unpreparedness and immaturity, I had no choice but to try and find out what was going on as quickly as possible. If you are new to this, I am sure you can connect to what I am trying to say.

As a result, I tried all in my power to study whatever I could in the shortest amount of time. To further my education in the ministry, I immersed myself in a variety of media, including books, audios, blogs, and teachings of well-known preachers.

However, the most valuable lessons I have gained are those I had to learn the hard way. What are these? These are those I learned on the job and in the journey.

As you step into ministry, I would like to share some of those lessons with you in the hope that they will help you as well. In all my years in ministry, I have learned a lot and am still learning. Here is some important counsel I want to share with you.

CHRIST AND HIS GOSPEL IS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE

That does not mean it is any less true, however., throughout my time in ministry, God has used everything to demonstrate to me that my need for him is as great now as it has ever been. 

Even now more than the discipline and rebuke for my sin, I need Jesus to free me from its power. In ministry, I have come to see how inadequate I am, but how great it is that Jesus is. 

Jesus and all His disciples preached the Gospel of His Kingdom which is His rule and dominion in our lives.

As Paul declared,

Romans 1:16 -- For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.


OUR LIVING AND PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL

Even though I could spend a lot of time studying different subjects and topics I am realising that solid theology does not necessarily translate into good and effective ministry.

For the last seventeen years, I have learned that our deeds speak louder than our words. A good speech might sometimes educate, but a good action nearly always has an influence. 

As vital as it is to preach the gospel to your people, it is just as crucial to living out the gospel with your people. Not only do your words have an effect on those who hear them, but so do your actions.

KEEP YOUR EYES JESUS

Since God had called me to join him in this specific effort to spread His kingdom, I entered the ministry. I had a genuine desire to serve others, but I started to feel the weight of expectation early on in my calling. 

After a while, I began trying to micromanage every aspect of my ministry in the belief that I could somehow manipulate the variables and get ministry outcomes. Exhausting and point-less, this was the last straw. Sovereignty over the outcome has been made very evident by God since then. All I have to do now is stick with it.

As a result of this release, I am now able to put more effort into ministry without worrying about burning out.

Hebrews 12:2 -- keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he en-dured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

It is of utmost importance to keep our eyes on Jesus continually in our journey. This will help us not be distracted and walk on water, i.e. overcome all the trials in life.

TO LEAD EFFECTIVELY, YOU BUILD YOURSELF

It has taken me all these years to realise that as a leader, your actions and your words will always be weighed. Pastor Vijay Pereira always said, "People may not care how much you know, but they definitely know how much you care." 

If you want to be a good minister, you must first be a good leader and build yourself to effectively build others.

THE WORTH OF PAIN

Suffering has a restorative effect on the human spirit. God removes all of our imaginary security in order to reveal the genuine richness of Christ's completed work through adversity. 

It is the testing of our faith which increases us in faith and endurance. In simple words, you become tough through what you suffer. Some others choose to get bitter with what they suffer, but that should not be the case with a Christian.

James 1:2-4 -- My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.

Leaders who have had bouts with suffering and pain, I have learned over the past decade, are the most successful. I have had my share of trials and sufferings and it continues even today. During the most difficult times of my life, I have found the most joy in my relationship with Christ.

Romans 8:18 -- For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the coming glory that will be revealed to us.

1 Peter 4:13 -- But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.

A MENTOR / TEACHER WOULD BE A GOOD

Trying to do everything on my own in my early days of ministry has been one of my most obvious mistakes as a minister. In the end, there is no alternative for a person who has the ability to appraise, correct and speak into your life.

You may speed your leadership development by finding someone who has previously walked the path which will not only build you but in return help to build others through you.

2 Timothy 2:2 -- And what you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.

I have had my share of mentors along in my journey who have taught me much of the spiritual and natural life. Many of us will have to seek out a wide range of people along the road who can assist them in many aspects of life, such as parenting, spiritual practises such as meditation and prayer, leadership and marriage, and decision-making. Mentoring is most successful when it occurs in an informal context.

Just because someone does not say, "I will mentor you" does not mean that you cannot learn from them. If you are learning from them, then in a sense, they are your mentors. Remember, this is a two-way relationship. 

The best way to catch someone's genuine love for God is to learn from them while you still have the opportunity, therefore pray, for God to bring such individuals into your life and desire to learn from them and gain from them while you still have the opportunity.

Today I work with as many people as possible. I train other churches and ministries as I would do my own. Working with others is an excellent way to learn and exchange knowledge and experience.

BE A DOER OF THE WORD

There is no replacement for getting yourself in the service of God. Learning about ministry may be done through podcasts, sermons and books, but only by doing it yourself can one really understand it. Keep up with what you are doing in ministry, not just what you are learning about it. In reality, plans are seldom as effective as they seem to be in theory.

James 1:22 -- But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Do not get too hung up on having the ideal approach since it rarely happens. Make detailed plans, but do not be discouraged if you encounter problems along the way. 

Always remember, if your mentors are involved in the process to teach and build you, they are also entitled to a say and correct you. 

Jesus corrected His disciples often and so did the apostles to their disciples.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 -- All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

In reality, God's Spirit may use your failed intentions as a way to accomplish His purposes in people's lives.

REDO THINGS IF NECESSARY

Sometimes, in wanting to see people grow as leaders and our ministry grow, we may push the timeline a little too quickly. As a result, you will be back at square one. Get things done the proper way the first time around. Slower, yes but you will save yourself a lot of stress and misery in the long run.

IF YOU ARE READY, BEGIN TODAY

Small acts of service might help prepare you for the ministry. Sing in the choir, assist to cook food, clean the altar, arrange chairs, help with the media or the social media, visit the sick or people in prison, share a sermon anywhere. 

Do anything you can to help out the church and the people in it to help spread the word of the Lord and spread His kingdom. I began arranging chairs and putting up the speakers as my first work in ministry. Later I started recording using a Video Camera. I did not directly become a preacher.

Having a record of faithfulness in small things is more important than having a lot of skill and gifts but not using them.

NO COMPROMISE ON CHARACTER

1 Peter 1:14 -- As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.

Competence is not enough to make up for a lack of morality. Your genuine character will eventually be exposed, even if it is hidden for a while. A divine character will always make up for a lack of ministry competence, but ministry competence will never make up for a lack of godly character.

Philippians 4:8 -- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

1 Corinthians 15:33 -- Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

WE NEED GOOD FRIENDS

Ministry leadership is typically described as a solitary endeavour. That is possible, but it is not required.

Do not underestimate the importance of having people who know, encourage, love, and support you. Set aside time often to spend with people who do not have a ministry agenda so that you may recharge and grow together. 

If you are a leader in any position in ministry, you must give these individuals permission to speak into your life and keep you responsible. I have a few good friends in my life who warn, encourage and correct me when needed.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 -- Two people are better than one because they can reap more benefit from their labour. For if they fall, one will help his companion up, but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.

GET ENOUGH REST, OFTEN!

It takes a lot of work to be a leader. There is a lot of pressure to work long hours, complete tough jobs, travel a lot and at odd hours or step in when others fail to do so. With so many demands on our time, it is easy to fall prey to the myth that it is our job to carry out God's will. 

We will soon find ourselves unable to function under the weight of our leadership if we do not change our ways of thinking.

Mark 6:31 -- He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat).

Jesus understood the importance of rest. He gave enough time to His disciples to rest and not get burned out by doing ministry. He Himself rested and slept when time permitted like He did in the boat.

Commit to working from a place of rest in Christ, not from a place of rest in ministry. Plan to pause what you are doing at least once a day, week, month, quarter, and year to appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for you.

TIME TO ENJOY

As children, we spent the majority of our time playing, however, as adults, we spend the majority of our time at work. We lose how to have a good time when we become too serious about becoming a pastor, leader or minister.

Despite the fact that it seems random, this is not the case. A good time has a way of recharging our batteries for the labour ahead. Have fun with your near and dear ones. A leader who does not have fun and enjoy life will become drained, irritable, and on the verge of burning out.

HONOUR IS KEY

People should be honoured even if they do not deserve it or even if they are untrained or immature in the things of the Lord. To be honest, this is very hard since human nature dictates that we respect others only if they respect us in return.

Take, for example, the historical interaction between a young shepherd boy David and King Saul. This partnership serves as an excellent case study. King Saul was jealous of him. 

He pursued David and even attempted to murder him with his own hands. Because he was so jealous of this young would-be King, armies were sent to murder him. Nevertheless, God threw a twist in the plan and handed King Saul into the hands of David, twice.

What did David do after this? David opted not to murder Saul out of honour for the man and his calling. Even though he had the ability to, and the fact is that he probably should have, he chose not to assassinate King Saul. 

He decided not to because he wanted to be honourable to the Lord and to the king the Lord had chosen. This is a great example for us today to ponder about praising individuals who do not deserve it.

Think back to David's line and what transpired. Consider the dynasty of David. Is anybody else in the generation of David? Jesus appears on the scene. Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples even Peter, Matthew and Judas, and yet Jesus did not throw them out of His group.

When we celebrate those who do not deserve it, this is an excellent example for us to look at. 

That home will be blessed by the Almighty. When King Saul was honoured by not being killed, God blessed the House of David. This is a complex and difficult idea to grasp. 

What do I need to do as a leader to begin recognising individuals even when they do not deserve it?

In the New Covenant church, Paul encourages Timothy,

1 Timothy 5:17 -- Elders who provide effective leadership must be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.

COMPLETING THE RACE

It takes a lot of guts and courage to be in ministry. If you are not cautious, it will beat you to a pulp, rip you apart, and leave you for dead. I have seen how leadership can wear out even the strongest of individuals, and I have felt its effects on myself on several occasions. You will, too, if you are in charge over a lengthy period of time.

Let go of the idea that ministry is something to be taken lightly because it is not. You have a lot at risk, so be careful to apply the Scriptures and its principles to help you fight the good fight and complete the race that Jesus Christ has given you.

Acts 20:24 -- But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.

2 Timothy 4:7 -- I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!

OWN EXPERIENCES

I can say this with a background in ministry for over seventeen years that it is common for people to rely on their own experiences, emotions, intuitions and perceptions as a guide rather than the Word of God and His Spirit. This is a common mistake in ministry.

I read the status of one of my dear friends in the Lord who has got distracted from the truth and got entangled into a false all-inclusiveness gospel.

He recently wrote, "If God could speak through a donkey then God can speak through my tarot cards."  

Tarot cards are cards used for divination purposes or as mediums that are forbidden by God to use, do, teach or explore according to scripture. How difficult is it to understand?

We must understand that there is no grey area in our journey with Christ and it is mentioned in scripture about the Laodicean church that our Lord Jesus called them lukewarm and said He will spit them out.

Revelation 3:16 -- So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth!

This is a characteristic of the false identity prevalent now in many big and small ministries and churches in India, and across the world. Putting emotions, false experiences and commercial showbiz ahead of the Word of God is a bad idea since they become idols if they take precedence over the Word of God.

BE TOLERANT OF ONE ANOTHER'S SHORTCOMINGS

Colossians 3:12-13 -- Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.

When you walk into ministry, and into any function or graces that God gives you or in any gifts He enables you, you must remember that God has chosen you to be holy and blameless in His sight.

You must be tender-hearted, full of compassion, be gentle in your behaviour and have tons of patience. You must forgive those who hurt you. You must forgive others because God has already forgiven you.

This is a really difficult task. When someone makes a mistake, give them a bit extra grace. This, however, is the mandate that we are given by God. Giving people compassion and forgiveness when they go off the rails is an important part of creating a greater room for building them. In doing so, we are honouring them, and in return, we hope that they will honour us and others when we make a mistake of our own.

It is disrespectful to the people's sense of honour when their leaders are always pointing fingers at them. It is not good for the church if you are an offensive person or if you are always picking on others.

DOCTRINE WORSHIP

As you grow in ministry and study the scriptures, many go off track and this is a fact that I am saying this may come as a shock to some people. I do believe that some people worship doctrine as an idol. They say that as long as you have got your theology straight, and you have got your doctrine correct, you will be accepted by the Lord.

They even argue that if you have got your doctrine straight, you are not a heretic like everyone else: you are part of the solution, and not the issue. There are many who fight over different doctrines and do not see each other's faces for long periods of time.

Having an accurate doctrine is important; but only I have the accurate way and an accurate doctrine, this shows there is an ego and conceit associated with these. You may not agree with everyone all the time. However, having a thorough understanding of the Bible does not mean you overrule the re-deeming grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and break relationships that were never meant to be broken in the Kingdom of God.

But, if anyone brings a different gospel that removes the focus from Christ to self, health, materialism, prosperity, an-gels, healing, miracles, signs, wonders is deceived and deceiving others. These cause harm to the body of Christ and must be avoided.

MATERIALISM

More than going to the church to join a community and help others, people instead look to the church for the services they need. They attend church to meet their spiritual, emotional, and professional requirements, as well as to establish professional connections. You as a minister of God must be aware of this and not fall into the trap of commercialism.

Rather than a family to which they may devote themselves, many people see the Church as a shopping centre. In other words, they make their own wants and desires the centre of their universe and they take precedence over being a member of a larger group.

MARITAL RELATIONSHIP

Consider your relationship with your spouse as an extension of your work as a minister.

This almost did not make the cut because it does not quite fit in with the rest of the list. As a result, I removed it, only to decide to put it back in later for a specific reason. Many people, in my opinion, categorise marriage as one thing, and ministry as something else.

Assuming that marriage and the ministry are separate, it is easy to treat them as though they are. That is definitely not the case at all, though.

Remember that every home is a little church. There is a strong connection between home and church leadership, as shown by the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The first helps you prepare for the second.

Your wife is the only person who knows you better than anyone else. It is pointless to try to deceive a faithful wife. Like-wise for the children. The institution of marriage is one of God's most effective means of sanctifying us.

Even if you are single, you should treat your marriage as an integral part of your ministry and not as a separate entity from your work as a minister or man/woman of God.

ALWAYS LEARNING

As soon as you stop learning, you are out of the game for good. Continue to read, keep your eyes and heart open, broaden your mind, and discover new things in Christ. Children and teens are mostly clueless about what they are doing yet curious to discover new things. 

So, how many people in their adulthood do that? Although a theology degree may open a few doors, it does not certify you of any certain outcome. It is never too late to develop and build yourself.

PLEASING GOD

We must look to please God always and not please men who look to suppress the truth. 

Colossians 3:22-23 -- Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men;

Galatians 1:10 -- Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!

1 Thessalonians 2:4 -- but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES

Do not make the same mistakes as I did. Learn and avoid them so you have a successful journey in Christ. 

There may be many other points that I may have missed or overlooked. Please write us your comments if you have experienced some or any of these in your ministry/church or in your journey with Christ.

Blessings,

Godwin.


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