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Leadership in Ministry

Success In Ministry isn’t the same as Success in the World

What Is Success in Ministry?

You have this calling God has given you. Whatever that role is, it is one of leadership – whether you’re a small group leader, deacon, church staff, pastor, or CEO of a ministry organization. If you’re new to this calling, how would you define a successful ministry? If you’ve been in ministry a while now, think back to when you just started out. Is ministry what you imagined it would be? If not, how is it different? Here’s a few things the Bible tells us about leadership:

  • Matthew says that a leader must be confident, but James tells us that a leader must be humble.
  • Mark teaches us that a leader must be a man of action, but Luke teaches us that a leader must be a man of prayer.
  • Luke says a leader must have a strategy, and James says a leader must submit to God’s will.
  • 1 Timothy says that a leader must rule, and Matthew and Mark say a leader must serve.

Leadership in the Corporate World

In the corporate world, successful leadership is measured by the “big office,” the bigger paycheck, the perks, the ability to delegate to others, and the luxury of others being at the leader’s beck and call. Success in the world is synonymous with glory, fame, riches, and power. Leadership in ministry is often hard, stressful, and looks very different than leadership in the corporate world. And if you want to guarantee that Satan will target you with his fiery darts, then leadership in ministry is just the job you’re waiting for.

In ministry, the best leaders are those who understand their calling is one of service, not glory. It’s a position in which we serve through teaching and guarding doctrine, leading missions and evangelistic work, loving all people, discipling God’s people, effectively managing resources in a Godly manner, strategically plan for the future through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we do it all with compassion, empathy, and sympathy. Often, we take on the burdens of others and feel their pain. This is what it leadership in ministry looks like, because if we lead like Jesus, then we lead by serving.

Sometimes leadership in ministry means being alone

Christ Walks into the Garden

In Mark 10:32, Mark wrote: “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.

Why is this verse significant? Because Jesus is coming towards the end of His ministry and the road He was walking on would lead Him to the cross. But notice that Jesus was walking ahead of the others. He didn’t put his disciples out in front as a shield. He led the way – even though the way ahead would end in torture and a very painful death.

Yes, Jesus led the way, but he was out front, alone on the road with the others following behind– reluctantly. In John 11, Jesus is on his way to raise Lazarus from the dead. His disciples knew that going posed a threat to Jesus because the Pharisees were already plotting Jesus’ death. So, they tried to talk Jesus out of going. Then in verse 16, we read, “Then Thomas (called “Twin”) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go so that we may die with Him.” Often in ministry leadership, we find that those we lead do follow, but they follow reluctantly. Reluctant followers will usually be the voices that try to talk us out of the path we are on. They can be discouraging nay-sayers. They can make us doubt if we’re on the right path. So, we find ourselves walking ahead, alone on the path.

Sometimes in ministry, we have to go alone. Sometimes that means we lead the way and others follow. And sometimes it means that we are alone with no one but Holy Spirit walking with us. Leadership can be lonely.

Are you prepared to go alone, if necessary, to be a leader in ministry?

Leadership in ministry takes courage

In Mark 10, this is the third time Jesus tells the disciples that his ministry led to the cross, not a coronation. Basically, he tells them that he will be “handed over” . . . “condemned to death” . . . “made fun of” . . . “spat upon” . . . “scourged” . . . “killed”! And yet – Jesus is out front – leading the way.

Think for a moment about a commander in the military. He issues orders and the soldiers under his command carry out the orders, even if it costs them their life. But Jesus is our commander and he has promised to go before us wherever we go, even when it is through the valleys, the fire, the shadows of death. Even there we do not need to be afraid because he is with us.

Leadership in ministry takes courage. Why? The more effective you are in ministry leadership, the more you will draw the attention of Satan and he will attack you and your ministry in every way possible. It takes courage because sometimes God asks us to do the impossible and to be obedient can cause others to try to stop us or they will ridicule, discourage, or try to change our plans.

So if you are on the road with Jesus, where would you be? Would you have the courage to walk alongside of him? Would you continue following him? Or would you go back home? It’s important to know where you stand because ministry is hard. It’s a spiritual battle every moment of every day. We can often be like Peter and declare we’d never leave the Lord’s side but when it’s all laid on the line, would we stand on trail with Jesus or deny him?

Being a leader in ministry takes courage.

Leadership in ministry is not about position and power

After Jesus’ very frank discussion about what lies at the end of the road, the disciples finally understand that Jesus’ kingdom isn’t going to be an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. So two brothers, James and John, make a request to Jesus. In verse 37, they ask, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” If Jesus was going to sit on a throne in Heaven, they wanted to be sure they had the best position in the heavenly court and a position that would give them power.

Jesus responded that they didn’t really know what they were asking. There are no first, second and third places in the kingdom of Heaven. Anyhow, those positions are already occupied by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus then asks them a question: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They eagerly agree and Jesus foretells that they will indeed do so. But what do the “cup” and “baptism” Jesus was talking about mean?

Metaphor of the “cup”

At a royal banquet given to honor a king, it was customary for the king himself to hand a cup of wine to invited guests and ask them to drink of it. So, in religion, the cup became the symbol of a life experience that had been handed to him or her, or passed on to them, by the Lord God. In this instance God had handed Jesus the “cup” of the cross. So he was asking James and John if they were willing to lay down their life for the gospel – and eventually they would.

Each of us called to ministry must be willing to accept the role handed to them, or passed on to them, by God the Father – and to give it all we’ve got – Just as Jesus gave His all – even to the point of death on the cross.

Metaphor of the “baptism”

The other metaphor – baptism – means “dip” or “submerge.” It was not unusual for a Jewish person to speak of a family member or friend as being “submerged” in an experience of life – for example, “submerged in grief.” Jesus was saying, “Whatever God asks you to do, submerge yourself in that experience – to the extent that you go all out to accomplish the task.” Thankfully, Jesus did go all out to accomplish His task because if He didn’t we’d have no hope of eternal life.

How submerged are you in the ministry you’ve been called to do? Do you go all out to accomplish the task?

You can expect conflict when serving in ministry leadership roles

As you can expect, when the rest of the disciples heard about James and John’s request, they were not too happy about it. Jesus had to pull the team together and help them get their act together. Here Jesus is – on the road leading to his death – and the disciples are arguing over who’s going to be the greatest in His kingdom. Mark records Jesus’ response:

And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Many times in ministry conflicts arise, whether over doctrine or style of worship, or even the color of the carpets. Sometimes we just have to stop and get the flock together and help them get their act together. The family of God shouldn’t include sibling rivalry among our spiritual brothers and sisters, but rather unity.

The Point of Leadership in Ministry

The whole point of ministry is not position and power. It’s not about glory. The point of ministry is to lead like Jesus. It’s about serving God’s people and Jesus told the disciples that is why He came – to serve – by giving His all and laying down His life.

called to serve

If you’re not willing to serve, you’ll never have a truly successful ministry. You might lead a large mega church, but you’ll just be a leader like any other corporate leader. Jesus calls us to serve. He calls us to be last.

If you are in ministry for what you can get out of it or for what it can give you, then you’re in ministry for the wrong reason and you miss the whole point of ministry. Whether your ministry is leading a small group or children’s class, deacon, serving on a committee, playing an instrument, office staff or pastor – you’ve been called to serve others, not to be served.

What’s your motivation to lead in ministry?

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Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

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Does Jesus loves you? Just look to the cross. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

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What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

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Genesis 45:8. God’s Provision in Unexpected Ways

Jan 19 Gen 45 8

There is a story about Andrew Jackson and his childhood friends. His friends had a hard time understanding how Andy, as they called him, became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They each had known other people who had greater talent, who were smarter, who more better off financially – but never succeeded. As the friends were reminiscing and talking one day, one of the said, “Why Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now.”

Another friend responded, “How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn’t they usually say, ‘Three times and your out?'”

“Sure they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat. He would never stay ‘throwed.’ Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andy would throw him and be the winner.”

Things never changed for Andrew Jackson. No matter what he faced, he just wouldn’t stay ‘throwed’! It was that perseverance and determination that served him well throughout his life, including as a general and as the President.

Life has a way of pulling the rug out from under us and knocking us off our feet over and over again. We’ve all experienced it. Some throw in the towel and give up but some of us just won’t stay ‘throwed.” We get up again. Dust ourselves off. And we go for it one more time. These are the people of courage – hope – faith – and they trust in the omnipotent Father to see them throw and provide all they need – even when God’s provision comes in unexpected ways.

Lessons from Joseph

In the Bible, Joseph is a man that just wouldn’t stay “throwed.” In his life, his brothers plotted to kill him, but threw him in a dry cistern instead, he was sold by his brothers as a slave, taken into Egypt, sold again to Potiphar, promoted to head of Potiphar’s household affairs,  falsely accused by Mrs. Potiphar for attempted rape, thrown in prison, promoted to command of all the other prisoners, forgotten about in prison and then at just the right moment in time he was remembered, brought out of the prison to interpret two dreams that Pharaoh had which resulted in Pharaoh making Joseph second in command in all of Egypt with on Pharaoh himself over Joseph.

Joseph could have sulked, despaired, and sunk into a depression in the pit as he realized how much his own brothers hated him. He could have become angry and bitter when they sold him as a slave. He could have given up on God when he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. He could have turned to Egyptian gods when he was forgotten and left in prison. But what we see is a young man who never forgot about the God of Israel. Joseph probably wondered more than once what God was doing with him and perhaps he couldn’t see that God was preparing him to save all of Egypt and beyond from a period of seven years of famine.

It’s easy for us to read the story of Joseph and get to the end and understand how all the events of Joseph’s life played out and see how God orchestrated things so that Joseph was at the exact place he needed to be for God to use him in saving millions of people from starving to death. But the story we read in about 30 minutes constitutes years of Joseph’s life. How many times must have Joseph laid in bed at night and asked God what he was doing. He must have prayed every night for God to get him out of prison and back home. But if God had answered those prayers, Joseph would not have been summoned to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams that warned of the coming famine.

God’s provision in unexpected ways

Yes. It was Joseph’s brothers who sold him with not even an ounce of remorse. In fact, they turned and sat down to eat dinner. But they were not the ones who sent Joseph to Egypt. God was sending him there for a reason. All along God was providing for what was coming, but God also had to strategically place Joseph in places that would grow him and prepare him for what God had in mind for him. As the pampered, favorite son of Jacob, Joseph would have never ended up 2nd in command of Egypt. He would not have been trained to run a household or a country. But even in the bad circumstances, God was with him, working in his life to strategically put him where he needed to be so that when Pharaoh had disturbing dreams, Pharaoh’s cup bearer would remember the person who had interpreted his dreams and tell Pharaoh about him.

We know that Joseph never forgot God or blamed him because when he stands before Pharaoh he give God the glory for interpreting the dream. In Genesis 50, Joseph says in verse 20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”  God’s purpose for all Joseph went through was revealed and Joseph saw how God provided for them all in a very unexpected way.

Maybe you’ve been knocked off your feet. Maybe you’ve been asking God, “What are you doing?!” Maybe your don’t understand right now, but will you stay ‘throwed,” or will you rise and give it your best? Will you trust that just as God was working in Joseph’s life, that He is also at work in yours? God is never surprised at the unexpected turn of events in our lives. He is always at work in every moment of or life, orchestrating, preparing, and moving us toward His divine plan – trust Him in the process. Get up. Dust yourself off. You’re heavenly Father who loves you with an everlasting love is with you in pit. Trust His plan.


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revive renew redeem

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memory verse logoDon’t forget to memorize this week’s memory verse:

In 2020 our emphasis is on revival for America with three key words: revive, renew, and redeem. You will begin to see the elements of our website and posts reflect this emphasis. We hope you’ll join us in praying for God to pour out the Holy Spirit with a mighty rushing wind of revival for our nation and around the world.


Our key verse for revival is 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  Our verse last week focused on humbling ourselves. This week, we’ll focus on praying.

This week’s memory verse:

Jeremiah 29:12

Then you will call upon me and come and
pray to me, and I will hear you.

Meditate and apply:

Will you commit to praying with us in 2020 that God will revive His people, renew our faith, and redeem our land? We feel such an urgency and desperation for revival. If God is moving your heart for revival, write your revival prayer in the comments along with your state or country. 

click to tweet #revive #renew #redeem #revivalinAmerica #revivalin2020 #WCM

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Quotes from the Self-Care Blog Series

050 pray

 “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything,
through prayer and petition with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.”
Philippians 4:6 (HCSB)

The quote above is from Part 10 of a blog series on Self-Care for people in ministry.
Read the blogs here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.

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Make God Your Refuge

Make God Your Refuge

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947492: Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

By Max Lucado / Thomas Nelson

God called David “a man after his own heart.” But what did he see in this shepherd and king who fell short as often as he stood tall? Lucado’s study shows how God triumphs in our circumstances. So load your slingshot with five stones—past, prayer, priority, passion, and persistence—and get ready to conquer with God’s help! 256 pages, softcover from Nelson.

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Courage to Chase God-Sized Dreams

courage to chase God sized dreams

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429295: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, repackaged: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, repackaged: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars

By Mark Batterson / Multnomah Books

Ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time…several times? These memories leave you with an ill taste in your mouth, and nothing good seems to come from them. But what if the seemingly messy pieces of your life were actually strategically positioned by God? What if you’ve actually been in the right place at the right time every time? In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day will help you make sense of your past. You’ll begin to connect the dots to see clearly how God has been preparing you for future opportunities. With a God’s-eye perspective, you’ll soon be thanking Him – even for lions, pits, and snowy days.

Wellspring Christian Ministries is an affiliate of Christian Book Distributors and receives an 8% commission when you purchase items through the links on our website. All commissions received are invested back into this ministry to grow and expand our ministries. Looking for a specific Bible Study or gift? Click on the link above and enter CBD’s website through this page and anything you purchase will qualify us for the commission. Thank you for supporting us.

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