Monday, August 23, 2010

Are You Ready for Ministry? - Part 2

I have worked in Christian ministries for over 25 years. In that time, I have founded two media ministries, including my current ministry, Flannelgraph Ministries. Over the years, I’ve had many people come to me and ask me about how to start a ministry. Some wanted to do mission’s work while others desired to pursue a video, television or music ministry. At the time, I gave them my best advice. But I’ve had time to reflect on this and really give it some thought. I think I’ve learned a thing or two over the past few years. I certainly have made my share of mistakes.

Here’s what God’s revealed to me about ministry and maybe you will find it helpful.

6. Protect the vision. If God gave you the ministry and the vision, your duty and responsibility is to protect it. As sure as the sun comes up, there will be people who will come along and try to slightly modify your vision. There will be plenty of justification and reasons why this is a better way. But the question is, “Is this from God?” There is a fine line to walk. If your relationship is not solid with the Lord and your life under the control of the Holy Spirit, how will you know how to protect the vision?

I have realized over the years that God can give you a vision, and it can be enhanced or changed as time goes on. You just have to realize if you are on the right course. There’s no question that you want to allow people to speak into the vision but not change it. Remember, everybody will have an opinion, but is it the right one? Varying just one degree off course may not seem like a lot in the beginning. But as time goes by, that small misdirection can lead you in a direction in which you can no longer see the original purpose of your ministry. You usually do this by making small compromises to the vision. But one day you will wake up and realize you don’t even recognize your own ministry. By then it’s too late. It’s not a question if you are going to, it’s only a matter of time that you will lose your ministry.

7. Don’t make your ministry your god. It’s amazing how easily as humans we engage in idol worship. Yes, your ministry can become your god. The Lord is always interested in having a relationship with you. That is his number one priority. How many people in ministry have failed at this? Is putting in countless hours away from our families what God wants? If we fail in our relationship and our responsibility to minister to our spouse and children, we have failed. So what have we accomplished if we reach the world but loose our families in the process? If you want God to bless your work and your ministry, your priorities must be correct and properly ordered.

8. Don’t develop tunnel vision. This is a trap that so many people in ministry fall into—when you believe your ministry is the most important thing on the planet. Without you, the Kingdom of God and heaven would go out of business and have to post a for sale sign. Believe me, God can get the job done without you. No part of the Body of Christ is more important than the home. We all play a part, and we must recognize that. God wants us to work together. That includes ministries, parachurch organizations and churches. Remember it’s not our deal, it’s God’s deal.

9. The end does not justify the means. We all have a destination—the great thing we want to do for God. And that sounds great. But do you know what God is really interested in? The journey or the process, it’s how we get there that really counts. There are times in ministry where it is convenient or justifiable to cut a few corners or make a few decision that’s perhaps in a bit of a grey area. It’s easy to justify because of the greater good. It may not necessarily be illegal, but morally that’s another question. Don’t take the easy way out. It’s always hard to do the right thing, especially when money is involved. And most of these kinds of decisions will always involve money.

10. Trust God! Sounds easy but it’s the hardest thing to do. When times are tough, do we trust God? Or do we call a board member to pull us out of a jam? God requires our faithfulness. He wants us to trust him for the impossible. But this requires us to stretch our faith and move into areas that are uncomfortable. God always wants the glory, and that doesn’t happen unless we allow him to move supernaturally. We can make our move, but it won’t be from God. We must allow God the opportunity to move. This is essential for ministries to be fruitful. It’s quite possible that your ministry will look successful. But remember, God has a different view of success than we do.

Final thought—learn from my mistakes. Believe me, I wish someone had given me this advice years ago. What a difference it would have made. But like so many people, I have had to learn it the hard way. I hope you don’t have to.

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