Towards a transformative ministry – Part 4
What we are saying here is that the life and ministry of Jesus is not only the pattern for individual Christians, but also for the life of the Church as a whole, and especially for the life and work of Church leaders. For a successful ministry, we must, therefore, follow the pattern set by Jesus.
We may agree with some scholars who say it is not possible for human beings to understand fully the character, life, and ministry of Jesus.
Taylor (1983: p.13) rightly notes, “but we can understand enough about Him to recognise some of the ways in which He calls His followers to imitate the example He has set.”
This shows that, to succeed in Christian ministry, we must be imitators of Christ. Just as children imitate their parents, Christians should imitate Christ.
His love for us led Him to sacrifice Himself, so that we might live. This type of love goes beyond affection to “self-sacrificing service” (cf. Eph 5:1-2)
The ministry of Jesus was devoid of selfish ambition. He showed clearly what being a ‘servant’ means. Selfish ambition can work against a successful Christian ministry. It can ruin a church, but genuine humility can build it.
Any work of the ministry done with selfish ambition cannot stand. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil 2:3).
Being humble involves having a true perspective about ourselves (cf. Romans 12:3. It involves treating others with respect and common courtesy. When we consider others’ interests as more important than our own, we have link with Christ. He is a true example of humility.
Jesus Christ in His ministry was humble, willing to give up His rights in order to obey God and serve people. Like Christ, the lay and ordained leaders in the church should have a servant’s attitude. This implies serving out of love for God and for others.
In Christian ministry, we should endeavour not only to be ‘the carrier’ but also ‘the bringer’ of the message. Jesus “was Himself the Message.” When we show ourselves as ‘the message’, we can positively affect the lives of others. We need to be a living expression of Christ’s attitude.
Today, with proliferation of Churches, we have false teachers who claim to be pastors. Such pastors carry forged letters of recommendation to authenticate their authority.
Like Paul, true missionaries and pastors need no such letters. “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). True ministry seeks new hearts and new beginnings for God’s people (cf. Jer. 31:33; Ezek 11:19; 36:26).
In a genuine ministry, no human minister can take credit for the process of conversion. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Paul imitates Christ. He gives God the credit for all his accomplishments, while false teachers and pastors boast of their own power and prestige.
What Church leaders should know is that, no one is competent to carry out the work of the ministry in his or her own strength. Leaders need the character and special strength from God.
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