The glory of God is the foundation upon which all of ministry is built.
What drives a person into the ministry of the Gospel will keep them there or eventually burn them out and see them walking out the door. The deep rooted, immoveable convictions of a pastor will be on display during the good times and especially the difficult times. After earning a theological degree and serving in several churches both on staff and as a lay leader, the below convictions are what drive me in ministry both within the church and outside with the surrounding community. These are the “bread and butter” of my life and ministry. When all is said and done these are the marks that I want to leave on my own heart and soul, my family’s, and those who get to know me beyond “hello.”
In the words of Jonathan Edwards, I know that outside of the grace of God, I am incapable of keeping these as the driving motivation of my life. So, “being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these [convictions], so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.” Soli Deo Gloria
- The Glory of God is the aim of all ministry
Ministry needs a big enough vision to last longer than my lifetime. It needs to be large enough to fit and fill the desires of all people. It not only needs to be extensive enough, but it also needs to be better and greater than anything the world, self, sin, or Satan can offer to people in the world. It must be bolder and greater than the people who tell others about it or it will be gone in a generation. It must be consistent with thought and emotion. It must have an answer for suffering and a foundational meaning for the joys of life.
In other words, the aim of my ministry must be eternally good for all peoples in every tribe, tongue, and nation. My aim must be genuine and true, not false or deceptive, for living life joyfully in this world and life to come. Therefore, the aim of my ministry cannot be anything less than the glory of God. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). When I offer the gospel to unreached peoples – I do it for the glory of God. When I pray beside a dying believer – I do it for the glory of God. When I budget for the next year – I do it for the glory of God. When I preach, disciple, counsel, work, drive, and sleep – I must have the glory of God as the aim and focus of my every moment of living.
The glory of God is the foundation upon which all of ministry is built. It is strong enough to combat the temptations of the devil. It is long enough to give hope to the suffering. It is deep enough to be greater than the best delight of the world. If I do not offer and aim for the glory of God, then I have become like the world; offering temporal aspirin for the headaches of life rather than ministering the sufficient, all satisfying balm for all mankind’s heartaches.
I believe that the glory of God is the end for which my ministry and life is to be lived in every choice and decision. The moment that that aim is lost then the mission has been compromised. As the pastor of a congregation my aim is God’s glory in all that we do.
- God’s Word is Sufficient
The second conviction for life and ministry that God has developed in my heart is that the Word of God is genuine and true in all that it says. If the Word of God is not able to accomplish what it says it can and do what it says it does, then I am wasting my time in the study and preaching of it. Some have given up on the Word of God. But for me, my foundation for ministry and authority comes from the Scriptures. There is no new magical book that can solve all the counseling problems. There is no old book that shows the way to have a perfect marriage and raise delightful kids. But there is a Book that will help me keep my way pure and undefiled. There is a Book that reveals the glory of God in the Person of Jesus. There is a Book that the Spirit uses to sanctify me and others.
The Bible has many books written about it and there are a lot of books that help me understand it in a deeper way. But when it comes to shepherding and leading and guiding people, I am charged with offering the pure, unfiltered honey of God’s Word to the people. This must start with my own heart and life. I need to be more conversant with 2 Kings than with The Return of the King. I must be able to speak in the language of the Psalmist more readily than C.S. Lewis or Calvin. I must know, love, and speak the Bible. My time of reading and study must be filled with the words of God not merely words about God’s Word.
If my pastoral ministry is built on any other book or wisdom or trend other than the ancient, sufficient Word of God then I may be sure that it will not last and it cannot offer the hope of Jesus Christ in a genuine way.
I am committed to discipleship and that when I disciple the first book into the person’s hands should be the Bible. The first book that young children in my church should hear about and see me and others reading is the Bible. I must be attached and attracted to the Bible in all seasons of my life.
I believe that if the Bible is not sufficient for the life and ministry of the church then I am wasting other’s lives and time. Jesus read and memorized the Words of God. Paul read and meditated on the Words of God. The Bereans were encouraged because they searched the Scriptures daily. As a leader and pastor, I must be a Bible person and give people the Bible, not anecdotes about the Bible. People are starving for the rich buffet that the Bible offers. Let me root, ground, build, and be satisfied with the Word of God as the sufficient Book for my ministry.
This means that if a book says something that the Bible does not say I do not follow it. It means that if the Bible teaches something that the culture does not accept, even the Christian culture, I believe it and obey it. I must be committed to the Bible at all costs and in all seasons of life.
- Prayer is Indispensable
The third conviction that all I must exhibit is an unbridled commitment to prayer. Prayer in my life and my church is the essential link to the Master. Jesus modeled prayer and fellowship with His Father. I will set an example to those who are watching where my strength comes from. Do I work in my own strength or am I a dependent and expectant prayer warrior? Do I understand that the battle that I face is a spiritual battle and must be fought with spiritual weapons?
I need to model how to pray for people using the Bible. This means that I need to know the Bible and then pray it. The prayers in the Bible will help form and shape me and those in the church spiritually.
Paul asked consistently that people pray for him. The Old Testament is filled with those who wanted and asked God to act. The Psalms is a long prayer to God concerning life. As a leader in the church, prayer must not just be a priority, it must be the air that I breath. It must be indispensable to my ministry that is happening in my church, town, city, state, and the world.
These three convictions together work to bring about maturity in my heart and life. My goal for life and ministry is the glory of God through the diet of the Word in public and in private with the consistent activity of prayer in dependence to the Spirit for obedience.
By Caleb Nedimyer