I don’t know about you, but when I think about ministry in the New Year, I think about setting goals. I want ministry moving forward and so I think about what that looks like.
I think about the problem areas of ministry and how I can make it better in the New Year. I think about the students who struggled last year in their faith and the ones who decided this God thing wasn’t for them. I think about what programs or resources we need to add to help these students.
And if I’m not careful, I can easily become the downfall of my efforts in the New Year. An important passage of scripture we must remember in ministry is 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:
“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”
If we are not careful in our thinking, we can quickly become the solution. Our programs and resources no longer point to salvation, but becomes salvation for people. And we have to remember that God uses what we do for His glory not our own. So that is why we must not get to caught up in what we can provide over who we are pointing students to.
Stop Doing God’s Job. I would keep 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 visible so you can stop trying to do work that’s way above your pay grade. Trying to do God’s job in the lives of students will discourage you quicker than anything else. If their life change depends on you, it will be short lived. Stay in your lane. So no matter what 2013 looked like for your ministry, the only question that is relevant is did you point students to Christ? I totally understand the fact that we have to do our do diligence and checklist of how we can do things better, save money and stuff like that, but at the end of the day if you can honestly say that your ministry pointed students to Christ you’ve done your part. We must remember that we are not responsible for life change, that’s God’s job and it’s more important then what we do.
Think Preparation. Our job is to be prepared for the life change God brings. I had to change my thinking on how I was going to get students to retain their faith, think different, evangelize, grow in their faith, love God, love others or grow a heart for serving. I’ve changed my thinking to how can we be prepared so when God does something in their heart towards these things we are ready to help them with what God has awakened in their spirits to do. Example: If a student hears a message on serving and God does something in their hearts to serve I want to be ready to help them carry it out. Example: Maybe a student hears a message on growing in their faith, well I need to think how can I help them grow whether it’s with a program or resource. This is how we should think and this is our job. We are not responsible for stirring/changing/increasing/convicting the hearts of students. We plant, help, encourage, act. God’s job is much more important. If we are honest, sometimes we can really feel like since what we are doing is for God it is just as important. And we may not say that with our words but we definitely say it with our actions. Here is one question to ask yourself to figure out if this is true for you or not. How much time to do you give to prayer for the ministry vs. meetings for and about the ministry? If God’s job is more important, then He needs to be highly communicated with because His involvement is crucial and more important then anything we do at any given time.
Beware Of Discouragement. I can tell you that it’s not easy because you can become discouraged when a student doesn’t get it, and falls prey to a scheme or trick of the enemy, and not follow what you’re teaching or trying to show them. I have to be reminded myself that it’s not my efforts but it’s the God I serve that changes lives in His timing and in the way He sees fit.
Be Encouraged. The God of the universe is on our side and is close to us. Be encouraged that you get to point students to a God that never fails, never sleeps and will never forsake them. Be encouraged that He allows you to be apart of the life changing process, but most importantly be encouraged because you can rely on Him even with the part He’s entrusted to you.
I pray it encourages you to think differently in 2014. What would you add to the list in light of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7?
Aaron Crumbey oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He’s married with three children, loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs www.yoacblog.com.