As the pendulum swings from the bully pulpit of years past into the self-disclosing conversational approach of our social-media rich environment, it continues past center into what I call the “permissive confession.” In short, this type of confession is not designed to right wrongs or to make amends. It’s often used to find sympathy and grace from your audience without having to do the hard work of repenting, changing your ways and paying retribution.
Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing significant to say.
I am determined to end my life more passionate than I began it. I want to finish on fire, more fiercely focused on following Jesus and living for His purposes in the earth than I was when I was twenty years old and trying to figure what my ministry was going to be.Floyd McClung, YOU SEE BONES, I SEE AN ARMY
We just kicked off our ministry training two weeks ago and so far it had been a blast. Today, Pastor Jun Escosar was our lecturer. Here are five ministry lessons I learned from the School of Local Church Ministry so far:
I Need to Grow in Character
In the ministry, character is prized over giftedness. If you plan to last in this line of work, you need to grow in your character. Education is not enough. Talents are not enough. Connections are not enough. This is not a question of whether you are really called or not. That issue should have been resolved before coming to the School of Local Church Ministry. You can be truly gifted and truly called and still fail if your character doesn’t match your spiritual gifting.
The Goal is to Finish Strong
Pastor Jun mentioned Steve Farrar’s book Finishing Strong. I read that book several years ago and the single most vivid picture that I got from it was Farrar’s list of seminary classmates written at the back of his Bible. Over the course of 25 years, he crossed out most of their names as one by one they fell away from the ministry. It was a sobering read. After I read that book, I started praying for God’s grace to carry me until my very last breath. The goal is not just to get started in the ministry. I want to finish well and finish strong.
I Need to Keep Making Disciples
Pastor Jun advised: do not be in a situation where you are not investing in the lives of at least five to ten people. The ministry is often tricky. You could be pulled to a hundred different directions if you are not very intentional about discipleship. I think I’ve seen enough ministry leaders who are simply too busy doing everything else except in investing in the lives of the next generation.
Learn to Focus on One Thing
One other lesson I learned is that I need to focus in an area of ministry where I excel. I think that’s a wise but difficult advice. It’s wise because with all the things that need to be done, young ministers need to recognize their areas of strength and give that ministry their best efforts. It is difficult because young ministers have to start in a generic role before they get to the point of specializing in their areas of strength.
Embrace this Window of Grace
Pastor Jun talked about dealing with personal issues while we are still in school. In the next few months, we will bury ourselves deep in study and training for the ministries we would be doing in the next decade. This is the perfect time to come out and confess hidden sins while we still have no reputations to protect.
Ministry will never be easy. It is messy and difficult because people are messy and difficult.Thom S. Rainer
Christianity Today: If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?
Billy Graham: Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn’t really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything. Continue reading Interview with Billy Graham