Seven Habits of Highly Effective Ministers: Part 1
What does it mean to be an effective minister? What things should we bear in mind as we prepare for full time gospel work? How can we make sure our ministry will make an impact for the Kingdom of God? FRANK RETIEF provides us with seven wise habits to adopt as we seek to be effective ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Habit One: Be realistic about what your role should be as minister
It is important that you should try to assess what your real gifts and abilities are. Some people who should truly be working for God in some form of Christian ministry are doing the wrong thing, because they want to do something that they are not particularly gifted to do. There are many churches and ministries today that struggle, because the person that is heading up the ministry is not actually gifted to do that job.
So, when you are thinking of ministry, make a true assessment of yourself and ask God to show you where your gifts really lie.
Don’t try and be a preacher if you can’t preach. But at the same time, don’t think that if you can’t preach, that you are disqualified from doing something for God full time.
I met a man once in America, who came out of seminary, took over a large church, and after a couple of years, collapsed with a nervous breakdown. He could not handle it. During his time of recovery, he did a true assessment of himself with the help of Christian friends, and he came to the decision that he would only ever be an assistant. He considered his special gift was to be someone’s right hand man, and to this day he has never lead a church on his own.
I want to tell you that there is a huge need out there for people who will be humble enough to say “It’s not my job to be the guy at the top, but I’ll be there to help him, support him, to pick up the pieces and to help to put the thing together”.
So ask God to give you an idea of where your gifts lie, and who knows what God can do for you. The great Charles Spurgeon made a lovely statement one time. He said “the sky would be the poorer if all the small stars were taken out”. We don’t always have to be big stars. We can be small stars and still play an important part in the overall plan of winning the world for Christ.
Habit Two: Make sure your spouse is supportive of your ministry
If you are thinking of Christian work, you must make sure you are married to the right partner. I have had the terrible misfortune of seeing a number of ministries come crashing to the ground because of a wrong choice of partner.
Sometimes the wrong partner has been the wife. The man had a lot of gifts but his wife was not fitted for the ministry because she couldn’t handle it temperamentally. She did not see herself as being part of the ministry, and therefore did not see her home or her children as being part of the ministry either. She wanted her home and her privacy to herself. Her whole temperament and personality destroyed what could have been a useful ministry.
On the other hand I have seen the other thing happen as well, where the wife has been the more gifted of the two. She is doing a great job for God and is a great support, but the husband can’t handle the whole thing. She has married, in fact, the wrong partner. Her heart is in ministry and serving God but he is making an absolute hash of it all.
All I want to plead for is that if you are thinking of full time gospel work, that you look at your relationships very carefully.
In fact, you may need to make certain sacrifices as you decide on your marriage partner. You may need to put the interests of the Kingdom of God over and above some relationship that is very precious to you at this point in time. For even if your relationship is going really well, if your aims, goals and temperaments are not the same, then it is not going to work. The right partner is essential if you are going to make it in any form of Christian ministry.
Frank Retief was a bishop of the Church of England in South Africa, and the rector of St James Church in Kenilworth, Cape Town. This article was based on a n address to Club 5 members in April 1996.