Principles of Successful Ministry By Mark Conner What are the keys to having a high- impact, long- lasting successful ministry? Of course, success is not being better than, or having a bigger ministry than someone else. It means reaching and maximising your God-given potential. Also, success means doing the basics well. Everyone likes to learn something new or fancy, but it is consistently doing the basics extremely well that leads to success. Here are seven principles of successful ministry. Principle 1: Value Your Ministry (Perspective) Successful people in ministry think highly of their ministry and see themselves as on a mission from God. They believe that serving God is the highest and most important calling on earth (1 Tim 1:12). The way you see yourself and your ministry dramatically affects everything you do. What you believe about God, yourself and your present situation either hinders or enhances your effectiveness. The church you’re working to build is of vital importance. It is precious to God. It is at the very centre of His purposes (Eph.3:10-11). So, working for God's kingdom makes you an important person. Your role may not be prominent, but it is very significant. Two men were moving bricks on a building site. When asked what they were doing, one man said, “We’re just moving bricks from here to there.” The other man said, “We’re building a cathedral.” Same job, but different perspective! How do you feel about yourself and your ministry calling? Principle 2: Live Your Ministry (Example) Effective ministry is more about who your are than what you do. Great leaders lead by example. The apostle Paul told people to follow Him, to imitate his life and to be like him (1 Cor.11:1). Think of a person you admire. What is the one thing about them that causes you to admire them? Usually, it is a character quality or attitude, rather than outward appearance, talent or skill. In the same way, the things about you that will have the greatest influence on others are more likely to be character qualities. Character is the foundation for all effective ministry. Ultimately, the people you influence will be a reflection of you, for better or worse. Paul told the leaders of the church at Ephesus to give careful attention to their own lives and then to the church (Acts 20:28). We must beware of getting so caught up in the activity of ministry that we neglect our own personal lives. Successful leaders walk in integrity (Prov.10:9) and they keep a clear conscience in all matters, whether they be ethical, financial or sexual. They understand that failure is more often a slide, than a sudden fall and so they keep alert. Be an example. Who you are speaks louder than what you say. Principle 3: Love Your Ministry (Attitude) Successful ministers develop and maintain a positive attitude in all situations. They love the church and God's people. They enjoy their work and they are enthusiastic about it. Attitude is a choice we have every day. You can't control what happens to you but you can control what happens in you. You are responsible for your attitude and your attitude definitely shows. Some important attitudes to develop are joy (Ps.100:1), gratefulness (1 Thess.5:18), enthusiasm (Rom.12:11) and a positive outlook (Phil.2:14). A good attitude won’t stop you from having negative feelings, but it can prevent negative feelings from stopping you. Negative emotions can be extremely destructive and need to be dealt with quickly (Eph.4:29-32. Phil.5:6). Do a quick attitude check: What do you think about the church, the people you serve and the work you are doing? Principle 4: Grow Your Ministry (Excellence) Successful ministries are committed to continual growth and the pursuit of excellence. They believe that God's church is called to be glorious and therefore, they do their very best for God (Col.3:23-24). Excellence means being above average, going the second mile, refusing to be ordinary, learning from failure and a commitment to continual growth or improvement. Pat Riley, an outstanding basketball coach, says, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” We often see the end product of people’s ministry development and think we could never do what they do. However, we don’t see the process of their ministry development along the way. We can achieve excellence through the same process of living, learning and growing. Paul challenged Timothy to spiritual progress (1 Tim.4:12-16). He told him to devote himself to personal growth and the development of his God-given gifts and abilities. The result would be that his progress would be seen by all and his ministry would be more effective. Are you declining, maintaining or progressing? Principle 5: Focus Your Ministry (Priority) Successful people know their priorities and focus all of their ener gy on them. They put first things first. They know what's important and they do it (Mt. 6:33). As leaders, it is essential that we use our time wisely in order to accomplish what God has called us to. We need to ensure that urgent things don't keep us from doing what is really important. What’s your priority? It'll be a busy year and you'll fill up a lot of time, but what with? Activity does not always equal accomplishment. Paul tells us that the difference between the wise and the foolish person is the ir understanding of God’s will and their wise investment of time into daily opportunities (Eph.5:15-17). Our major priority is to help people. Church work must have a people focus. We are in the people business. Develop good people skills. Walk slowly through the crowd. Smile, say hello, introduce yourself, ask questions, call people by name, be friendly and helpful, be sincerely interested in their life, be generous with praise and cautious with criticism. Principle 6: Share Your Ministry (Teamwork) Successful ministries don’t go it alone. They build and develop a team around them. They are committed to helping others get involved in ministry. They continually gather, motivate, train and mobilise people. To be a good team player, you need to first learn to be a good follower of those to whom you are accountable. Then you need to be able to partner effectively with those who are your peers. Finally, you need to give good leadership to those for whom you are responsible. Good teamwork requires a commitment to quality relationships, strong unity, continual encouragement, undivided loyalty, open communication and genuine love. Principle 7: Fuel Your Ministry (Prayer) Successful ministries continually fuel their lives with prayer. Prayer helps them develop a vital and personal relationship with God, which then provides the power and energy to get the job done. The bottom line when it comes to prayer is dependence. When I don’t pray, I’m saying to God, “I can do this”. When I do pray, I’m saying to God, “Lord, I need you.” The truth is that we need Him all the time and without Him we can do nothing of lasting value. We all know that ministry can be hazardous to our lives. Therefore, a living, dynamic relationship with God is essential to prevent us from burning out or dropping out of the race and to keep us enjoying the journey. I hate stopping to fill up my car with petrol because it slows me down, makes me stop and worst of all, allows all those cars I’ve just passed, to get ahead of me again. Yet, it is o nly through stopping that I can refuel and gain the resources to keeping going on my journey. The challenge in ministry is that we often get so busy working for God, like Martha, that we neglect taking time to stop and sit at His feet, like Mary did (Lk.10:38-42). The best habit I’ve developed over the last eighteen months is the practise of taking a Retreat Day every month. During this day, I take time to refuel – to pray, to evaluate my life and ministry, to review the previous month to see if I’m on co urse and to plan the coming month. When I first started this habit it was so hard, because I was thinking of all the work I wasn’t getting done. Now it’s an absolute priority, because I see it as an investment of my time that produces a greater freshness and effectiveness in my daily life and ministry. The Race is on! The Christian life is not a hundred- metre sprint. It’s a marathon. It’s not just about how fast you run, but how long you last. Let’s be ministers who run with all our might, but most of all, let’s finish well (2 Tim.4:7). A final thought. Knowledge doesn’t change the world, action does. It’s what you do about what you’ve just read that determines whether it will help you or not. How about rating yourself from 1 – 10 on the seven principles listed above (1 being “poor” and 10 being “outstanding”). Which principle had the lowest score? Think about what you could do about improving this area in the next week. Finally, just do it! The above material is summarised fro m Mark Conner’s book Successful Christian Ministry, which is available in Australia fro m City Life Church Bookshop (Phone 61 3 9871 8339 or online shop at www.citylifechurch.com).
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