LEADERSHIP & MINISTRY DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR
FOR PASTORS, MINISTERS, AND CHURCH LEADERS
June 13 – 15, 2006
Theme: WHAT IS REAL MINISTRY?
International Evangelist, Marriage and Family Counselor, Bible Teacher, Author, Prayer Minister
Professor of Biology, Hampton, Virginia, USA
Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Inc. (FM Int.)
(Evangelistic & Teaching Ministry)
6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, VA 23669, USA
These are days when most people are not really sure of the position of the Church of Jesus Christ on vital issues, and the direction in which the Church is clearly moving. Several doctrines, issues, and practices continue to stir up more confusion in people’s minds, and blur their vision of God’s holiness, purpose, and direction for mankind, especially God’s sons and daughters in Christ.
There is the ordination of homosexuals as ministers of the Gospel; sexual immorality (fornication and adultery) plus pornography, profanity, and sexual abuse in divers forms are practiced freely; greed for financial and material gain has eaten deep into the minds and hearts of many Believers; occultism and un-biblical religious practices have been made to become legitimate part of worship in several churches.
More than ever before, young people in the homes of church goers have become extra rebellious, carnal, lazy, unspiritual, lighthearted, careless, immoral, users of alcohol and illegal drugs, dabblers in witchcraft, irresponsible users of resources, fun lovers more than work lovers, and very immoral in all forms of sexual practices, just like children of the world. On top of it all, supposedly Christian homes and families are becoming as dysfunctional as the homes and families of the world, and the divorce rate of the Church runs parallel to the divorce rate of the world.
So, where is the Church of Jesus Christ standing as the Light of the world, and Salt of this earth?
Churches are multiplying now more than anytime in the history of nations, especially charismatic and evangelical churches, but our problems seem to multiply along with the formation of new churches. The truth about God’s character and purpose is eroding away from many churches and our communities at an alarming rate, mainly because many Pastors, Ministers, and Church Leaders are not teaching and practicing the real biblical truth to the people of God.
Majority of people who go to church have lost, or do not really know, the fear of God anymore, especially young people. There is more activity than true spirituality. Instead of the zeal for personal Bible study and obedience to God’s will, there is more jumping, shouting, slogans, fun, programs, and singing of songs that have no real meaning to the singers in church services.
People are more committed to programs and performance of duties in place of real commitment to Jesus as Lord, effective bible study, meditation on scripture, obedience to God’s word, and fervent prayer, which will ultimately lead to demonstration of holiness and true love in our homes, marriages, family life, outside the home, and in our churches. This unfortunate trend has to be broken, and must be done so now!
God is looking out for men and women with true understanding of authentic ministry. The Lord wants to draw such men and women closer to Him, reveal to them His will and purpose for this generation, train them to become sharp tools and useful vessels in God’s blessed Hands, as they “work together with God” (2 Corinthians 6: 1) for the fulfillment of His ultimate purposes on earth. “God teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25: 9).
The good news is that God has always had a devoted remnant of Believers who have stood firmly with the Lord to maintain the fundamental principles and doctrines of Christ for His Body, the church, in every corrupt generation. Therefore in every place on this planet today, there are still churches where the real truth of God is preached, taught, and practiced for the expansion of God’s Kingdom, and to the glory of God.
This is the reason why dedicated and concerned Pastors, Ministers, and Church Leaders with a genuine passion for God and desire to engage in true Ministry, gather from time to time to discuss, analyze, teach, encourage, motivate, and challenge each other to move ahead and work with the Lord to conquer more territory in order to expand the Kingdom of God. We can then gather other people within our sphere of influence, teach them, and demonstrate by our lives of obedience, enlightened zeal, true love, humility, faith and demonstration of holy living, WHAT REAL MINISTRY OUGHT TO BE.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal (blameless) to Him” (2 Chronicles 16: 9).
“ The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11: 32).
Minister: a) The act of serving; ministration; religious position or clergy.
Christian Ministers are Ministers of:
i) God ---- 2 Corinthians 6: 4
ii) Christ ---- Romans 15: 16.
iii) The Gospel ---- Ephesians 3: 7
iv) The Word ---- Luke 1: 2
v) The New Testament ---- 2 Corinthians 3: 6
vi) The Church ---- Colossians 1: 24-25
vii) Righteousness ---- 2 Corinthians 11: 15.
b) Ministers are Servants of:
i) God ---- Titus 1:1
ii) The Lord ---- 2 Timothy 2: 24
iii) Jesus Christ ---- Philippians 1: 1
iv) The church ---- 2 Corinthians 4: 5
c) Ministers are Witnesses
They are given the anointing, power, and authority to witness about
i) God as Creator
ii) God’s character and attributes
iii) God’s works
iv) God’s salvation plan for mankind
v) God’s revelation, redemption, and deliverance through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 43: 10-12; Luke 24: 48; Acts 2: 32; Acts 3: 15; Acts 5: 32, 42; Acts 10: 39-43; Acts 13: 29-31
Ministers are Stewards (managers, attendants, people entrusted with
Responsibility for). They are Stewards of:
i) God ---- Titus 1: 7
ii) The grace of God ---- 1 Peter 4: 10
iii) The mysteries of God ---- 1 Corinthians 4: 1
Your call to be a minister is a stewardship from God given to you for the people within the Body of Christ ---- Colossians 1: 25.
d) Ministers are Overseers (directors, inspectors, supervisors) ---- Acts 20: 28
The major qualifications of an overseer are listed in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7.
a) Work and care for, attend, do for, minister to, wait on or wait upon.
b) Place food before someone.
c) Meet a need or requirement, answer, do, suffice, suit (e.g. serve a purpose).
Ministers Lead: Exercise special influence in the life of someone, conduct along a way, guide,
be ahead or head of, tend toward a given result (e.g. a practice that leads to success), direct the performance or activity, start or begin, be in the front or foremost, have an advantage or superiority (e.g. lead in a game), be an example, play a principal role.
Other descriptions and titles that intimately go along with the calling to be a minister are:
1) Fishers of Men (Mathew 4: 19; Mark 1: 17);
2) Laborers (Mathew 9: 38; 1 Thessalonians 3: 2);
3) Lights or lamps (St. John 5: 35);
4) Apostles (Mathew 10:2; Acts 1:2);
5) Prophets (Ephesians 4: 11);
6) Teachers (Acts 13:1; Ephesians 4: 11);
7) Pastors (Ephesians 4: 11);
8) Evangelists (Ephesians 4: 11);
9) Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5: 20);
10) Angels of the churches (Revelations 1: 20; Revelation 2: 1);
11) Defenders of the faith (Philippians 1: 7);
12) Elders (1 Timothy 5: 17; 1 Peter 5: 1);
13) Men of God (1 Timothy 6: 110;
14) Messengers of the churches (2 Corinthians 8: 23);
Some examples of service and leadership in the Bible:
1) The Apostles appointed or instructed the appointment of Elders to serve as Leaders in every New Testament church (Acts 14: 23; Titus 1: 5).
2) God instructed Moses to appoint 70 Elders to assist him to lead and minister to the people of Israel (Numbers 11: 16, 17, 24, 25).
3) Rulers and Leaders were chosen and appointed by Moses for Israel (Exodus 18: 21-26).
4) Aaron and his sons ministered as Priests in garments of ministry in the Holy Place (Exodus 35: 19 & 39: 41).
5) Service of the Lord was performed with offerings ---- burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings (Joshua 22: 27).
6) David appointed men over the service of song in the house of the Lord (1 Chronicles 6: 31).
7) Very able men fit for the work of the service of the House of God (1 Chronicles 9: 13).
8) Service of God for Israelites ---- goes with adoption as sons of God, glory of God, God’s covenants, the law of God, and the promises of God (Romans 9: 4).
9) Vegetation caused by God to grow for the service of man (Psalm 104: 14).
10) Service of the faith of the believer ---- goes with sacrifice (Philippians 2: 17).
11) Service of divine ordinances of the first covenant (Hebrews 9: 10).
1) Minister to people for their good. Be a good minister of Jesus Christ ---- Romans 13: 4; 1 Timothy 4: 6.
2) Be sound in good doctrine ---- 1 Timothy 4: 6.
3) Be nourished in the words of faith (feed on a balanced diet of whole and pure scriptures) ---- 1 Timothy 4: 6.
4) Fully acknowledge that the Lord called and put him or her in the ministry (received it from the Lord), and allow the Lord to control all aspects of the ministry ---- 1 Timothy 1: 12
5) Depend entirely on the grace of God in every area of the ministry ---- 1 Timothy 1: 14.
6) Be an elder who rules well ---- 1 Timothy 5: 17.
7) Be a servant of the Lord ---- 2 Timothy 2: 24
8) Be committed and devoted to the Lord and his or her duties ---- Philippians 1: 21
9) Live a holy, pure, and righteous life --- a character that matches the Gospel and the ministry ---- 1 Timothy 4: 12.
10) Live a sincere and honest life of integrity ---- Learn to hear and listen to God ---- Isaiah 6: 8; Isaiah 30: 21; Acts 22: 17-21; Isaiah 15: 21; St. John 10: 3, 16, 27; James 1: 19; 1 John 1: 1, 3, 5.
11) Wait upon the Lord for His counsel, guidance, instructions, anointing, and power --- Isaiah 40: 30, 31; Acts 1: 4, 5, 8; Isaiah 30: 1, 15-21
12) Obey God’s instructions and commandments ---- St. John 10: 3, 16, 27; James 1: 19;
13) Not quarrel but be gentle to all ---- 2 Timothy 2: 24.
14) Not be greedy or lover of money --- 1 Timothy 3: 3.
15) Must be the husband of one wife or wife of one husband ---- 1 Timothy 3: 2.
16) Must be able to teach ---- 2 Timothy 2: 24. Labor in teaching and doctrine ---- 1 Timothy 5: 17.
17) Be patient ---- 2 Timothy 2: 24.
18) Be a man or woman of faith ---- 2 Timothy 4: 7.
19) Fight a good fight ---- 2 Timothy 4: 7.
20) Know his or her race and run it very well ---- 2 Timothy 4: 7; Hebrews 12: 1, 2.
21) Be able to identify and fully use all talents and gifts ---- I Timothy 4: 14; Ephesians 4: 7-16.
22) Persevere, be steadfast, and persistently keep the faith ---- 2 Timothy 4: 7; 1 Timothy 4: 16.
23) Be consistent and faithful ---- 1 Corinthians 4: 2
24) Correct in humility, those in opposition to him, the Gospel, the Church, or God ---2 Timothy 2: 25.
25) Must be ready to suffer persecution ---- 2 Timothy 3: 12.
26) Must preach the word of God! ---- 2 Timothy 4: 2.
27) Must preach in season (when convenient) and out of season (when inconvenient) ----2 Timothy 4: 2.
28) Must learn how to convince (speak the truth emphatically and persuasively), rebuke (admonish, caution), exhort (urge by strong appeal, encourage and advise to do right), with longsuffering (enduring patience) and a teaching (educating and instructing) objective ---- 2 Timothy 4: 2.
29) Finish his or her assigned work (fulfill all your responsibilities) ---- Colossians 4: 17; 2 Timothy 4: 7; Hebrews 12: 1, 2.
We can focus our attention on some passages of scripture, and derive the pattern of true ministry. We can also deduce the fundamental principles for the unction or power that starts and moves ministry along to completion, success, and maximum fruit production.
A) THE POSITION OF THE MINISTER (ELDER, PASTOR).
1) Every minister is called and ordained by God to a specific position
To ordain means to install, to order by virtue of established authority, or to prearrange unalterably (in accordance with destiny).
A minister is called to a position of service, responsibility, and authority. It is part of his or her covenant relationship with God that cannot be abandoned or broken under any circumstance, because it is sealed by the Blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1: 13, 14). All of us are called to an eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5: 10), but within that realm or context, each has a specific calling upon his or her life, and an assigned task. Paul, for example, was called to be an Apostle (1 Corinthians 1:1). Every true calling must be according to God’s will (Isaiah 6: 1-9; 1 & 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians1: 1; Ephesians 1:1).
2) A minister is in the position of a shepherd.
He is in the position of a caretaker of people, entrusted with the responsibility to feed, tend, protect, guide, lead, and keep the sheep entrusted into his care, just as Jesus would do (1 Peter 5: 2; Acts 20: 28; St. John 10: 1-16).
3) A minister is in the position of a Leader.
He guides, initiates, instructs, motivates, encourages, exercises unique influence, commands authority, and watches over his followers along a specific path towards a specific goal with a definite objective (Hebrews 13: 17; 1 Thessalonians 5: 12; Ezekiel 34: 1-6).
The facts from God that provide us with the real spiritual guidelines for the activities, motivation, and fruitful production of any genuine minister, are scattered across the Bible.
I wish to point out that all the qualifications and qualities enumerated for Elders and Deacons in places like 1 Timothy 3: 1-13, and Titus 1: 5-16 (e.g. blameless, having only one wife, hospitable, not greedy, not double tongued, not quick tempered, sound in doctrine, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, children in subjection and obedience etc.), apply to all Pastors and Ministers as well.
However, we can study specific passages of the Bible and deduce the perfect patterns for authentic ministry according to God’s plan and purpose, which he has made very clear to us in His word. Examples of typical scriptures that give us the blueprint for spiritual, genuine, and acceptable ministry are: 1 Peter chapter 5 (which I have based most of my analysis on), Mathew chapter 10: 1-33; Luke 10: 10-20; 2 Chronicles chapter 15; Isaiah 6: 1-9; the Books of 1st and 2nd Timothy, and Titus, just to mention a few.
I would personally recommend every minister to take time and study these scriptures in order to gain spiritual knowledge and activate the mind of Christ (the humble, obedient mind – 1 Cor. 2: 16 & Phil. 2: 5-8) which every child of God is expected to possess, especially ministers of God’s word and God’s grace. Young ministers and budding Christian workers in particular need the truths of the Books of Timothy.
I have attempted to list just a few of the major tasks and the accompanied qualities that God expects of any real minister:
1) Shepherd the (particular) flock of God (assigned to you).
It means you must take time to know your flock intimately in order to be able to meet their specific needs accordingly (1 Peter 5: 2).
2) Serve as an overseer (exercise oversight), and a watchman.
The Minister must be an eagle that hovers over and around his flock with sharp eyes for observation and supervision. He is mandated to watch over the souls of men for proper and productive function, which is one of primary roles of any true leader chosen by God (Hebrews 13: 17).
3) Labor diligently with a willing heart and mind.
There is nothing more discouraging and destructive to progress than an unwilling heart and a questioning or doubting mind (and of course a grumbling spirit) that is trying to become part of an important project or process. That is pretence, deception, hypocrisy, and even foolishness or insulting. God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6: 7).
Worst of all when such a person with an unwilling heart occupies the position of ministry or authority, tries to act and behave spiritually, and expect spiritual results or rewards. (1 Peter 5: 2; Colossians 3: 23-25; 2 Corinthians 8: 3; 2 Corinthians 9: 7).
4) Submit to God
The Lord Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. You are an under-shepherd receiving instructions from the real Owner of the sheep who employed you in His sheep farm or vineyard. The Lord in the highest authority, and every Minister (or child of God) must submit to God’s authority in order to have authority for leadership. No Minister or leader has any authority in himself or herself. You have authority because you submit to God’s authority. This is the only way to obtain God’s grace for effective and fruitful ministry (1 Peter 5: 2, 5, 6; Isaiah 66: 2; Mathew 5: 5).
5) Seek after, and know God’s will
Knowing the will of God very clearly and distinctly with 100% assurance seems to be the hardest thing in the Christian life, apart from overcoming the passions of the flesh that wage war against our souls every hour. Sometimes the best men and women of God, and choice servants of the Lord, have made astonishing and outrageous mistakes in following or executing what they honestly thought or firmly believed was the perfect will of God in a situation, only to discover in the end that God had a different plan. They could not hear God well and follow His orders properly. We have examples all over the Bible and in real life.
We must always remember that the key methods of Satan (the principal enemy of every ministry) are imitation and deception, in order to achieve his wicked and diabolical objectives. God originally created Satan; he can therefore only steal and imitate what God has made or possesses, and then lure and deceive mankind with it. “The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy” (St. John 10: 10).
The key that unlocks the door to your victory is to make the obedience to God’s word a priority in your life. You must learn total dependence upon God’s word, God’s promises, God’s spirit, and God’s instructions, as integral part of our daily life.
We cannot use our minds and experiences as guides as much as we want to, and then go to God to ask of His will only when we are stuck in sticky hard places of life where we sweat profusely and desperately grope in the dark to find a way out of our mess.
“I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40: 8).
Any Minister or child of God can easily fall off track, deviate from the primary course, and lose his or her original vision. This will by all means happen if the person does not receive and verify God’s will and God’s plan for himself or herself at the beginning of the calling (or initiation of the ministry), and then pursue God’s will constantly in all matters of the ministry, including God’s will in public and private life (Mark 3: 35; St. John 4: 34).
6) Train your followers (disciples) to submit to authority.
The submission and obedience of your followers and disciples will largely depend on your submission to God as a humble, broken, submissive minister of God. If you possess or portray a proud spirit, you are more than likely to transfer that character to them. Jesus clearly said that: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly (fully) trained (to be proud and disobedient, or humble and obedient) will be like his (proud or humble) teacher” (Luke 6: 48). Train your people to submit to God’s authority first, and then to your ministerial and leadership authority).
Some sure indicators of humility and submission are: listening ear, gentle and positive responses, willingness and volunteering, patience, respectful behavior, obeying instructions, expressions of gratefulness and thanksgiving, sincere cooperation.
7) Avoid (eschew) greed, dishonesty, and selfishness
Greed and selfishness will always cloud, hinder, or quench willingness and eagerness in any minister, which will not enable such a person to have authentic ministry (1 Peter 5: 2). A good minister must train his or her heart to hate craving after material possessions. God commands every minister or church leader to do God’s work “not for dishonest gain” (1 Peter 5; 2).
8) Avoid the love of money
If there is an age that Ministers of God have to be extra careful about greed, it is now! Modern development, technology, life of comfort, extensive travels that bring several cultures to invade our original cultures, and sophisticated lifestyles, have fostered money-hungry and carnal-seeking spirits to flourish in abundance. Indeed the bible made it clear that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6: 10).
You must never minister with any motive of what you can gain. You open wide doors for the devil to tempt you to use your followers, disciples, and congregation to make money and obtain material possessions for yourself and your “little group of club members” that hail you or derive special benefit from you whether you are right or wrong at anytime. If you focus on faithfulness, God will bring success and prosperity your way.
A minister must be decently clothed, well fed, and have nice possessions too, like any other person. But God warns the man or woman of God to avoid being greedy, because a spirit of greed (covetousness) is similar to a spirit of idolatry (idol worship) in God’s eyes (Ephesians 5: 5). Anything you focus on first, rather than God, and allow it to take the first position meant for God in your life, automatically becomes your idol.
As much as the needs of the Minister must be taken care of by the Church and the disciples, it is a serious violation of the word of God, and a satanic inspired deception of carnality in disguise to the point that you use the sacred ministry given to you by God to make money and amass wealth for yourself. The Bible warns every minister to flee (run very fast) from such love of money (1 Timothy 6: 10-11).
9) Have passion and show eagerness
God admonishes his shepherds and ministers to perform their duties with eagerness and enthusiasm (1 Peter 5: 2). Real passion for God and the souls of men will stimulate enthusiasm and eagerness to work hard without focusing on any selfish gains.
Paul emphasizes the same point by strongly urging church and fellowship members or members of any Christian group, to obey and submit to their leaders. This will enable the leaders to fulfill their responsibilities and watch over the flock of God with joy (Hebrews 13: 17).
10) Be a loving minister
Before Jesus mandated Peter to feed and minister to His sheep (St. John 21: 15-19), He asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Without going into the Hebrew definitions of the different words Jesus used (which will lengthen this brief outline), the bottom line is that one of the primary qualities that God looks for in any genuine minister is love. Love for God comes first, before love for the person or people you minister to.
But, what actually is love? I always refer to two definitions according to God who is the originator of love, and made a third deduction:
a) Love means the laying down of your life for your brother (sister) or another fellow (1 John 3: 16 & St. John 15: 13).
b) Love means you know and obey God’s commandments (St. John 14: 15, 21-23 & 15: 10).
c) Love therefore means you constantly and deliberately look out for the best interests, needs, and welfare of someone, in a sacrificial manner (lay down your life).
We can understand that love is very costly, and should not be toyed with at all, because it is given out by sacrifice. In fact, God who is a Spirit had to become a man in the flesh and die sacrificially in order to demonstrate and give us his love.
“God is love” (1 John 4: 8) --- He does not just give love --- and that is why love is so vital to Him, and that is why the words that come of Him are words of love that will give you His love if you take in His words and act upon them.
Love is also the primary fruit of the Holy Spirit from which all other fruits emanate and disseminate (Galatians 5: 22, 23). How then can you be filled with the Spirit of God and not be filled with love too, and exhibit real, consistent love in your ministry?
An authentic minister does not just show sporadic love only at specific times for his or her own special reasons, but he or she practices love until it becomes a lifestyle. Real ministry is borne from the love for God, which stirs up inner love for souls from the unction of the Spirit of God in the heart. This is translated into ministry to people in sacrificial love that focuses on God’s desires and the welfare of the souls being ministered to.
11) Be humble and gentle
A genuine minister should not be found as a controlling and bullying person whose style is to drive people in roughness and callousness instead of guiding people in love. God warns you “not to be domineering, or lord your authority over those in your charge” (1 Peter 5: 3). It is emphasized for the Minister to develop personal humility (1 Peter 5: 5, 6). I put the emphasis on “those in your charge” because if you do not take time in love and patience to know and understand the particular individuals that God has drawn to sit at your feet to learn, and move along with you for God’s Kingdom, you cannot have the required heart to be loving and gentle with them.
Humility and gentleness are important components of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22, 23). Jesus actually called us to a life of humility, meekness, and gentleness (Mathew 11: 28-30) that flows to the outside from within. Jesus emphasized humility of heart --- something more spiritual than mere physical appearances and deliberate show of humble behavior.
It is emphasized for the minister of God to work hard on himself, by subjecting the mind to the word of God and thereby “humbling himself under the mighty Hand of God for God to exalt him in His own due (appropriate) time” (1 Peter 5: 6). This is the only way he can develop personal humility, which he is commanded by God to acquire (1 Peter 5: 5, 6).
Humility and gentleness for any child of God, especially for any Minister of the Gospel, must be a lifestyle and not just simple acts of humility and gentleness here and there.
Any child of God, and especially any minister of God whose life and ministry are not characterized by true humility, meekness, and gentleness, must therefore be someone who is not filled and controlled by the Spirit of God. Submission to God’s direction and instructions, and obedience to God’s word in totality, brings about true humility, gentleness, and genuine spirituality.
There are Ministers who are more of possessors of the Holy Spirit rather than the Holy Spirit possessing them. God allows some gifts to operate in the ministry of such people, and that deceives them and their followers to think that they are great servants of God without blame. However, if you interact with Ministers and leaders who lack true humility, then you would realize that they are hard, unbroken, self-centered, heartless, demanding, rough, and controlling. Such leaders are not in proper tune with the Lord.
Pride will be evident in the life of someone without humility, and since “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5: 5), the grace of God will not operate as expected in the life and ministry of that proud person.
12) Be an example to the flock
It is often said that “when your life is shouting in people’s ears”, they cannot hear what your lips will be saying to them. Jesus said if a blind man leads another blind man, both fall into a ditch --- that ditch or hole might contain poisonous snakes, crocodiles, lions, and tigers that might devour both of you! You may even fall headlong, break your neck, and die.
A real minister or any real leader will by all means make it a matter of concern to practice what he or she preaches, and not lead his or her disciples astray with bad examples.
All true ministers are commanded by God to “Be examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5: 3). Paul warned and encouraged young Timothy to “be an example to the believers” (1 Timothy 4: 12). Any minister will be dubbed a hypocrite if he or she preaches one thing, and does another.
Acting hypocritically is not restricted only to weak or fake Believers in the church. If a Minister neglects personal devotions and time alone with the Lord, he or she can start acting hypocritically, especially when the pressure is on him or her in any situation, or has a specific weakness that he or she has not taken time to deal with before the Lord. .
An example is found in the life of Peter who acted hypocritically with the exhibition of prejudice and fear of identification with Gentiles when Jews came around (Galatians 2: 11-21). His hypocritical, biased action of not standing boldly and firmly on God’s principles of love and total acceptance, no matter the cost, swayed Barnabas and others who acted hypocritically as well. Paul rebuked him to his face in public to set everyone straight for the truth to reign.
13) Endure suffering
The work of God involves attacks of all kinds, and it is real warfare that involves suffering, trials, pain, agony of heart, and tears. Even Jesus the Son of God who had no iniquity in His heart, was not immune to suffering in His ministry on earth, and had to “learn obedience through suffering” (Hebrews 5: 8). Your righteousness will never protect you from trials and suffering. The hard places of life are essential stops of God for rest, reflection, obedience, and cleansing. Jesus said He does not enjoy having old, sickly, and dead branches on his precious vine, therefore He says “every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it will bear more fruit” (St. John 15: 2).
Grapes are never borne on old vine branches. Old branches that bear fruit this year have to be removed in order to give way to fresh shoots that will bear good fruit next year. It means that the more serious you are in ministry, the more God will prune you. Any severe test or trial that comes to you as a committed Minister therefore mean that “your branch is probably too old to bear fruit in the next season” and that is why God is removing it. If you are doing your best as a Minister, then take comfort in your afflictions with the thought that God is drawing you closer towards better productivity with your trials.
There is a share or portion of suffering that God has designed for each of His children to experience for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Ministers in particular must be the leaders in tasting and enduring true suffering for the flock of God to follow. You can never chicken out of the appearance or forecast of hardships, run for your life, or meander your way deceitfully through dubious and cheap paths for easy going ministry that knows no sweat, pain, afflictions, trials, or suffering.
You will not even grow to become mature and strong if you make it your lifestyle to take a line of least resistance in ministry, and your poor followers will be weaklings who cannot be used by God for any tough assignments in God’s Kingdom. Your church or group members will become cheap prey for aggressive demons who would devour the flock right before you.
We have to rest our hearts in the comfort that God will NEVER allow any human being to have more than his or her fair share of true suffering and genuine trials in this world. Most often, when we are really being tested and we are feeling the heat and pain of the trial or suffering in the crucible of life, we lament and proclaim to everyone that our suffering is beyond the ordinary. We then crave to get all the sympathy and attention that we can get from people. We must, however, understand that the Lord will NEVER allow you and me to suffer and be tried to any extent beyond our ability to endure, or more than we can possibly bear. No trial, test, affliction, pain, or suffering is intended to paralyze us. If God does not ensure that we can bear what He allows to come upon us, then we would ultimately become paralyzed and crushed by the pain and suffering, which then defeats His intended objective of refinement, provision of strength, and progress. Paul understood this principle, and stated it firmly minister Timothy who was also his closest disciple.
“You therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship (suffering) as good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself (or herself) with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2: 1-4).
14) Fight the devil
The description and qualifications of ministry outlined in 1 Peter 5:1-11 also involves warfare with the devil (1 Peter 5: 8, 9). God has clearly warned us that true ministry is a war against Satan and the evil forces of darkness. In Ephesians 6: 10-18, God has defined our weapons for us, and we must put on the armor of God and go out to combat the enemy.
We must understand that every walk with God, and for that matter every authentic ministry, involves warfare that entails three aspects:
a) Engage the enemy (confront the devil, evil forces of darkness, and sin)
b) Contest the enemy (show him that you have a greater power in Christ). Remember that in every war, the stronger and more skilled persons wins in the end. You are to fight the good fight of the faith, just as Paul admonished Timothy: “But you, O man of God, flee these things (love of money in verses 6-10) and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight if faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6: 11, 120.
c) Conquer the enemy (occupy and possess of the land where you have defeated the enemy; take hold of all your possessions and trophies of war by faith). Do not allow a defeated enemy to run around your conquered territory, shouting and disturbing your peace with no weapon in hand because you have shattered all his weapons.
15) Be vigilant and watchful
The devil is always working with sinful and wicked men to infiltrate the ranks of the saints and the church of Jesus Christ, to cause divisions and havoc (Acts 20: 29-31).
The true minister’s duty is to be a watchman over God’s property --- the souls of men. God says true leaders and minister are men and women of God who “watch out for (watch over) the souls of men” in the Body of Christ (Hebrews 13: 17; Mark 14: 38).
16) Be prayerful
A prayer-less minister is a weak, powerless, unproductive, and unspiritual minister. Such a person could cause more harm and do more damage to the ministry and the body of Christ, than those who were called by God but did not heed the call to enter into the ministry at all. Prayer is a vital tool for the Minister as a means to hear from God, become humble enough to depend on God, and obtain power for the ministry.
Peter could not talk about the dynamics of the ministry and its fights without entreating the man of God to make prayer a priority by “casting all his cares (in prayer) upon the Lord” (1 Peter 5: 7). Jesus always isolated Himself from the crowd and even his disciples and entered into prayer for replenishment and fresh anointing after every serious ministry (e.g. Mark 1: 35 & Mark 6: 46).
17) Finish (complete) your ministry
In St. John 19: 30 Jesus triumphantly proclaimed that: “It is finished”. It sounded as if He was waiting for that special moment all His life. Jesus emphatically told his disciples that: “My food (nourishment, delight, source of energy) is to do the will of Him (God) who sent Me, and to finish His work” (St. John 4: 34). The question of finishing His task was so paramount to Jesus that He even pronounced the work as a finished task by faith, even before dying on the Cross (St. John 17: 4).
God calls every Minister to be a servant who must go out to labor and bring fruit home (St. John 15: 16; Psalm 126: 5, 6). Fruit is borne only at the end of growth and flowering. If you do not finish your assigned task, how then do you get final results, and how could you obtain any fruits?
Paul joyfully declared a finished race (job) for his God-given task before he died, and he cautioned his fellow Minister Archippus to do the same (Psalm 126: 5, 6; Colossians 4: 17).
18) Be totally dependent on God’s grace
“We then, as workers together with Him (God) also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6: 1).
One of the worst and most dangerous mistakes that any man or woman of God can commit, is to minister as if he or she alone is just working for God, rather than cooperating with the Holy Spirit and work with God in total dependence upon the grace of God.
God commands every servant of His in ministry, to depend heavily on God’s grace as a lifestyle. Not only when it is time for preaching, or fund raising, buying of a new land, acquisition of property, pregnancy or childbirth, constructing a new sanctuary, dealing with a church split, establishing new branches of the ministry.
It is common to see many ministers starting with humble beginnings, sober in spirit, and cooperating with a few people who spend their time, effort, money, and resources to help the Minister to build the ministry. In those beginning days of scanty resources and few members, the humble and needy minister will spend a lot of time waiting upon the Lord, and having a humble heart that seeks for God’s direction, power, and grace in all matters.
Later on when the ministry grows and flourishes by God’s grace, he behaves like what God describes in the Bible as a lean calf in a dry desert without much food and water, and which has now grown fat and sleek after being brought to luxuriant grassland with flowing rivers by the grace and compassion of the master. The “fat cow” now begins to kick in and outside of the pulpit and even on radio and television with all kinds of arrogant utterances and attitudes, until he starts kicking away (deliberately or unconsciously) all his original helpers.
The once humble minister now walks with chest out and a straight face without even looking left or right to greet any one. Everything now is “thus says the man (or woman) of God”, instead of “thus says the Lord.”
He or she could even get to a very dangerous point when he or she begins to actually occupy the driver’s seat of his life and ministry, would not listen to any counsel including advice from his wife and associate Ministers or Elders, and begins to convert his personal statements from his own mind into “thus says the Lord” to his followers.
God has seen too many losers in ministry and obtained too many casualties in His vineyard. It is time to change the story by your humble obedience to God, seeking His face to know His will, commitment to duty, faith, and diligence to finish the task He specifically assigned to you.
May the Lord help us to grow into the likeness of Christ and become meek, holy, totally dependent on God’s grace and His unfailing promises, for a lasting and effective ministry that is tested, enduring, real, pure, and honorably authentic, to the glory of God.