The Example of Ministers (“Don’t be this me”)
Are you willing to embrace the reality that your title makes you a role-model?
When church members watch your life, are you a good example only in theory – or are you living a life that’s reflective of Biblical teaching?
As ministers, we should be an example when it comes to spiritual matters and disciplines. At stake is both our personal discipleship and our modeling it to church members.
The Bible sets clear expectations for the church’s leaders. (For one example, see I Timothy 3.)
This is ultimately a matter between you, God, and the church you serve. But I’ve listed some things I feel are non-negotiables for those in a ministry role at a church (and arguably, for every Christian in some way).
Baseline expectations for Ministers
Devoted time with God each day
This can be very subjective, so in my church setting, we define this further as “substantive and systematic time God.” We don’t go a lot further in delineating formulas of time, place, or reading requirements, but we want our ministers to systematically spend substantive time with God.
Substantive time will allow them to lead and minister from the overflow of their own time with God. Sentence-long prayers or reading one page from their favorite devotional isn’t enough. As ministers, we have a great privilege of service Christ and others, and our pursuit of Christ should be a matter of great intentionality.
Service outside your role
Most churches (and their ministers) ask people to step up and serve amongst the church body. Most of the people we ask have hectic, family and work-filled lives. Should we ask something of them we aren’t also willing to do? Ministry without pay is good for your soul, and it also models what committed discipleship looks like.
What are you doing for your own church (or the larger Kingdom of God) that’s not in your job description?
Involvement in group life
Whatever your terminology, you need to be in consistent community with other believers who are studying God’s word. There’s a lot of ways to do this, but the church is built on the idea of believers in community studying the Bible.
Although it can be hard for a minister to find an appropriate time for biblical community (sometimes it’s an issue of fit or trust, and sometimes, your role’s responsibilities don’t allow for it), we’ve got to be in community.
As ministers and leaders at our churches, we should believe in the vision God has given of our church. Our belief should lead to commitment, which means participation in funding that vision. God’s plan for financing His church is simple economics. It’s called tithing.
Although I’ve heard people argue against it, I’ve never been convinced that ministers should get a pass on giving to the church. Rather, I think we should take the lead in giving generously. No matter your circumstances, financial stewardship is related to personal discipleship.
Does your giving to the church reflect your trust in God? If the members of your church knew how you gave financially, would your giving show faithfulness and commitment to God and your church?
Sharing Christ with others
Many ministers like to delegate “sharing Christ” to our church members who are “out there amongst the non-believers in the real world” (as opposed to working in a church building where most, if not all employees are Christians). As ministers, we’re only called to equip the saints, not find them… right?
Our title doesn’t relegate us to simply managing the results of other people sharing Christ. We should be engaged ourselves. I’ve heard the arguments for ministers not being great at this because of our positions (mainly because I’ve argued them), but our job can’t be an excuse.
As ministers, it takes an extra effort to rub shoulders with those who don’t share our faith. (I’ve blogged before how one such effort led to me playing softball with Hooters’ employees.) The extra effort is not only good modeling for other church members, but the stakes are eternal.
Confession: I’m not perfect when measured against what I consider these baseline expectations. At the same time, I don’t consider them aspirational. Rather, these are areas I should always be striving to excel in.
Again, this is first a personal discipleship issue. But secondly, we’ll have a hard time effectively “equipping the saints” if the saints look at us and know we’re all talk. Don’t be a theoretical example.
DIRECTV has a series of commercials where famous people (this one includes NFL player Tony Romo) are shown as they are, and then show some lesser (usually humorous) version of themselves. Each commercial ends with the famous person saying, “Don’t be this me.”
Let’s agree together to avoid having to say to our churches’ members, “Don’t be this me.”
Photo credit: YouTube