Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Advice to Young Ministers

A lot of years ago, my buddy Jim Mankin had me down to Abilene Christian University to speak to the Bible Majors about what full time ministry is like. I spoke to them about what I called Ministry Mountains, and after pointing out the abundance of "mole hills", I shared with them what I thought the three greatest challenges of being a full time preacher are. They are the Three Big "E's" of preaching: Ego, Elders, and Economics. These are not bad thing at all, but they are things that every minister must get a handle on or they will destroy your effectiveness and cause grief on every level of your life.
I could write volumes about my mistakes and life lessons with each of these, but that isn't why I share them in this article. I'm sharing them (again) to simply make the point that ministry is first, last, and always about glorifying God. I don't care how amazingly talented a minister may be, if they are not in an honest relationship with God, they will not deal with the Three Big "E's" in a godly way. Only a humble heart that is genuinely seeking to please God can stay focused on His plan and His mission for your life. It's a difficult job to be a dynamic and forceful leader and at the same time be humble and meek. Even the most humble leader will have people who misjudge their actions and motives, but God knows the truth. If unqualified men are given the title of Elder and in their need for control they make ungodly decisions - hurtful and destructive decisions - a minister who is walking with God must show what Jesus would do and not let that other "E" (ego) be their guide.
And in a day when churches are not expecting their ministers to take the Catholic "Vow of Poverty," and salaries are much more in line with qualifications and abilities, ministry can't be about "the money" or ever appear to be a driving force. At the same time, you can't control how people want to think. You can only choose to be at peace with God.
It will aways come back to integrity. There will aways be people who second guess, judge, and criticize, but when your conscience is clear and you know God is please - it becomes their mountain not yours.


inez Stubblefield said...

Mike, this is excellent.
We love you and miss you.
Curt and Inez Stubblefield

Deborah said...

Great advice! I know one young preacher that has already benefitted from your wisdom. I only wish every young preacher could sit under your tuteledge!