Seven Habits of Highly Effective Ministers: Part 3
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 Five: Be a person of integrity
Make sure you are a person of personal integrity. This is important for Christian people, no matter what profession they are in. But if you are in Christian ministry it is so important for that integrity to be seen and known by everybody. Your morals have got to be watched all of the time. Whilst all Christians much watch the way they deal with the opposite sex, the leader of the church must be even more careful. When you are in ministry you are on display for the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything you do has got to be watched.
Do you know what the Africans said when David Livingstone, the great missionary died? They said “the good one is gone”. That is how they described his death. Don’t you think that is great? What a reputation to leave behind! If you ever get into Christian ministry and you leave your place of service and go somewhere else, may that be the memory that they’ve got of you, that “the good one is gone”. May they recognise your integrity and give Christ the honor for it.
Whilst on the subject of integrity, if you are thinking of Christian work, look out for laziness. Laziness is unattractive in anybody, but it is especially unattractive in a Christian. However in Christian work it is an absolute killer.
Remember always that gospel work is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. It is just hard work. But also remember that we have God on our side, and he does bless us.
Habit Six: Be creative
There has got to be creativity and initiative in Christian work. It is important to try new things all of the time. In Christian ministry, never get stuck in the same old ways.
Leighton Ford, Billy Graham’s brother in law, wrote a book called “The Seven Last Words of the Church”. Do you know what the seven last words of the church are? They are, “It’s never been done this way before”.
I always say to people in Christian ministry who are at a bit of a dead end, that the only way that a tortoise moves forward is when he sticks his neck out. And in Christian work you have got to do that.
Habit Seven: Make sure your teaching is Biblical, expository and relevant
Always be sure that no matter what you are doing for God, the teaching is Biblical, expository and relevant. I left that to now, because I know that in this diocese this is the great thing. Everybody here wants to learn what the Bible has to say. That is what it’s all about – teaching people the Bible. And I know that that is true, and I honour you for it.
Therefore, in your ministry teach the gospel! At the end of the day, if you are a Christian, no matter what else you are called to do, you are called to teach the gospel because eternity is beckoning! It is beckoning! May that never be taken out of your heart.
Now the gospel has got to be applied to people. I have been in churches where there have been wonderful expositions with no application. I know that sometimes people think this inductive method, where people deduce things for themselves, is the way to go. Fine! It works with some people. But I am very thick. I like people to preach to me and tell me “this is what the Bible says, and this is what you have got to do, Retief”. I am not going to argue with the Bible if they tell me that.
I have to ask myself this question every week as I get into the pulpit: “Retief, do you really believe what you are going to preach about? Do you believe it?” I try, but I don’t always succeed because I am a sinner and a hypocrite myself in so many ways, but I do try on Sundays before I get up to preach to say “God, please make this message real to me. Make this real so that I am not entering into a performance for the sake of people.”
Remember the famous words of Richard Baxter, the great puritan: “I preach as a dying man to dying men”. In all of our Christian work, that is the way that it should be whatever we are doing for the Lord Jesus.
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.