Editor's Note: This article is part two of a series we started two weeks ago on Jesus' model of ministry. We planned to print part two in last week's issue of the Toolbox, but with the passing of Jerry Falwell, Pastor Rick wanted to share some of his thoughts with our readers on his good friend.
A few weeks ago I told you that we have many great models for ministry to follow – but no other model compares to Jesus. I don't just want my character to become like Christ (as I wrote about in The Purpose Driven Life), but I want to minister like him as well. I also shared with you five specific ministry principles from the life of Jesus that you can apply to your own ministry. (Check out part one of this series.) Here are five more principles:
6. Meditation: I've got to meet with God everyday.
I've got to get alone with God for inspiration and renewal. If you are in ministry, which is usually people-intensive, you need to have some time to be alone as well. Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. No matter how busy Jesus got, he took the time to get alone with God and pray.
Jesus, when he got alone with God, waited for instructions. In John 8:26b Jesus said, "What I have heard from him – these things I tell the world." (HCSB) You're not ready to tell the world anything until you've first heard from God. The problem is most of us are so busy telling, we don't have time to hear. We're in a hurry doing ministry. It's like being a hamster on a wheel; you're rolling around and around but you're making no progress.
7. Relaxation: I need to enjoy my time off.
Mark 6:32 says, "The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and what they had taught. Then Jesus said, 'Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest.'" (NLT)
Jesus told his disciples that they need to rest – and so do we. Rest and relaxation is so important God put it in the Ten Commandments. If you're not taking a day off every week, you're breaking one of the Ten Commandments.
I'm more and more convinced of the importance of balance in ministry. All of our lives have to be balanced. There is an ebb and flow in ministry, a time when you give out and a time when you receive, a time when you work and a time when you rest.
8. Education: I must never stop learning.
Luke 2:52 (Phillips) says, "As Jesus continued to grow in body and mind, he also grew in the love of God and of those who knew him." This is saying that Jesus was balanced and He grew four ways:, physically, relationally, spiritually – and mentally.
Even Jesus grew mentally. We should never stop learning and never stop growing as ministers. Pick up a book, go to a conference, or have a conversation with someone new – but commit yourself to learning more. (See my recent column on reading.)
9. Expectation: I need to expect God to use me.
If God is going to use me, I need to expect him to. John 11:41-42 is a great example of Jesus doing this. It's in the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Remember the story? Jesus was just a few miles away in another town. One of his best friends, Lazarus, was sick. Mary and Martha were Lazarus' sisters. They sent a message to Jesus: "Jesus! Please come quickly. Your friend Lazarus is sick."
And it takes Jesus about three more days to get there, despite only being a few miles away. But, of course, Jesus was never in a hurry. Mary and Martha come crying, "Oh, Lord. If you'd been here, he would have still been alive. You blew it." He said, "No, this illness is for the glory of God. I had a purpose in delaying. I am fulfilling the plan of God." He walks up to the tomb where Lazarus has already been buried and in verse 41 Jesus says, "Father, I thank you that you have already heard me. I knew you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
When Jesus Christ went to raise Lazarus from the dead, he didn't say, "Father, please raise him." He didn't beg God. He didn't request of God. He walks up there and said, "I think you've already heard me. And, by the way, I'm just saying this for the people around me so they'll believe I am who I say I am."
You know how much God's working in your life? He's working as much as you expect him to. No more or no less. As you study Scripture, you find every time God moves out of heaven and does a miracle it was because somebody believed. What are you expecting God to do in your life tomorrow morning? What are you expecting him to do in your world, in your neighborhood, or in your ministry?
10. Determination: I must never give up.
We must be determined to fulfill the mission that God has given us in our churches and in our world. Luke tells us in his Gospel that: "The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. But he replied, 'I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other places, too, because that is why I was sent.'" (4: 42-43 NLT) According to Luke, the people of Capernaum tried to keep Jesus from leaving; they had another agenda for him. But Jesus kept focused.
Now that we went through these 10 key principles from the ministry of Jesus, take some time to evaluate your own ministry. Are you ministering the way Jesus would minister?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.