Ministry from my perspective is a very broad occupation to work in because it constantly expands as it reaches out to Christians and unbelievers alike, in attempts to bring them closer to God. However, despite the complexity that ministry can become, when it comes down to it is simply defined best in 4 letters: L-O-V-E. Just as it is the most important commandment to love God and our neighbors, so it is most important to having a successful and righteous ministry. After all, a ministry without love is not really a ministry at all. A ministry without love is no more than a resounding cymbal. For this reason, ministry, from my perspective, flows out of love.
This idea of ministry being love comes straight out of the example Jesus set as for His ministry. He spent much of His ministry loving on others in many different ways, even at the risk of His own well-being at times. Whether He was giving someone a healing or performing an exorcism, He was doing so as an act of love. It was His most important rule and He lived by it better than anyone else ever has or ever will.
Over the past several years I have made a long journey to figure out what exactly God was hoping to do with me, and while I had always expected my role in this world to take place somewhere in ministry, I did not entirely expect to find it in pastoral ministry. But God has rekindled an old flame in me and given me a passion for a ministerial position as a senior pastor. Therefore, I do ministry for God because I have felt a call towards such a position.
But if I were to narrow down the passions He has given me in regards to ministry, I would have to say that I have an overwhelming desire to teach people. Such a job is essential to any ministry and connects to the love theme that ministry is based around. For it is my hope that through my teachings I would be able to bring people into a deeper and more meaningful love relationship with God and that out of such a relationship, people’s love for one another would flourish.
God has also put a desire on my heart to reach my fellow Free Methodists and others with the truth of charismatic gifts. I believe them to be real today and I hope to help others be able to experience God and His Spirit in this way. And once again, this connects to love because the Spirit is meant to help us edify one another, which is something that the church desperately needs today. I hope to break the message of condemnation that satan has taught many of us today and instead present a loving God to His people whom they can be close to. So although my greatest perspective in my own ministry may happen to be teaching, God has also given me some specific burdens to bear in reaching His people. These are part of the reason I feel called to do so.
However, ministry is not simply done through myself, but through the church. There needs to be a new emphasis on the church community because many Christians view ministry to be the hierarchy of the building they meet in. This could not be further from the truth. Granted, my job is described as ministry, every Christian’s God-given directive is to live a life of ministry. Therefore, ministry is not simply music and a message, but believers reaching each other and outsiders. Until the church comes to see this, they should not expect to get much more than mere entertainment from their church services, which, in all honesty, was never the intention or focus of church.
Now obviously, if I am going to go into ministry, I need to know how to take care of myself. After all, if I cannot take care of my own self, how should I be expected to take care of others? The first thing I know that I need to do to be a successful pastor is to find an accountability partner or partners whom I can trust and confide in. Christians were never meant to go the road alone, and especially the pastors of all people! Finding someone trustworthy is incredibly important for a couple reasons.
First off, I need to have someone who is willing to tell me the truth, do so. It is not good to always rely on my own feelings and expectations. Hopefully by having someone else share in my life and struggles, they will be able to give me the cold, hard, and honest truth. Secondly, I need this person to be willing to keep secrets and support me. If they are not good at this, it could become very easy for my inner most problems to be put on display for the rest of the church to see and I could lose my influence and other’s respect.
I also need to begin to train my mind now to keep my family at the top of priorities in my life. I already realize that there is a great possibility to struggle with putting church above my family, because it seems almost wrong to say that I cannot do something in church for God because there are other priorities I have. Now obviously God would view my future family as highly important and I do not believe He would want me to be tricked into thinking that I cannot make time for them over church. For this reason, I would like to make sure that my hours at the church office were balanced well enough to lead a healthy family life and it also might be a good idea to find ways to work at home as I do not think I necessarily have to be at church to get stuff done.
From my perspective I also see a great need to do ministry in a modern light rather than a traditional. That is not to say that there would be no tradition in my ministry, but rather that my services would be set up in a way that I feel can appeal to today’s and future generations. I have critically assessed many of the liturgical ways of doing church and I do not feel that God has convicted me to run such a service. Instead, I feel that He has given me the freedom to select for myself how I would run a service, mostly by means of reason. In other words, logically and strategically I feel that the modern way of doing church in my case would reach a greater audience and pull them into God’s love.
While I do not plan to run my church as a solo pastor, I do recognize that my job as a senior pastor can branch out into many different areas, as I will have to be flexible to work with others. For instance, my teaching skills may correlate more directly to an individual by means of counseling. Or perhaps I will have to lead or help with the worship music incase there is not another to take the position. I also need to be a skilled leader and a dedicated follower. I will have to direct weddings, lead funerals, and appropriately integrate tradition into a modern setting. I may have to dumb myself down to think like others or in some cases challenge myself to someone else’s position. I may even have to coordinate business meetings and concern myself with church finances.
Altogether, a pastor is quite a hat juggler. While it would be nice at times for me to simply grab the hat of teaching and walk out on stage to give a lesson, I need to realize that God has put me in a position where there is much more I will have to do. Perhaps this is why ministry is a calling and not a stereotypical job that anyone can do. Perhaps God realizes that a minister needs to be good at multi-tasking both in his faith and his home life.
However it is that one might define ministry, my definition and mission statement is really quite simple. Ministry is love. And love is my perspective. Outside of love, there is no such thing as ministry. Outside of love all we have is religion. Real ministry comes when lives are changing due to a deeper and more intimate love for God and others around them. I need to realize what this implies for myself as well. If ministry is love than I, as a minister, must be a lover.