5 lessons I’ve learned from being in full-time ministry for 6 months
Ministry is awesome. Some would say I’m still in the honeymoon phase but however you want to explain it, I’m just loving every moment.
Over the last 6 months, I’ve learned so many new things and I’ve also relearned much as well. I feel privileged to be in full-time ministry. It hasn’t come without its challenges and learning curves though. So here you go, here are 5 things I’ve learned (or relearned) in the last 6 months.
1. People matter to God
How many times have you heard this being said before? If you’ve spent some time going to church, you would probably have heard this before. If you haven’t though for whatever reason, then read those words again. People matter to God. You and I matter to Him.
Ministry isn’t about having efficient systems and process. It’s not about having full-functioning policies. It’s not even about programmes or events. Ministry is working alongside the God of heaven to bring restoration to the lives of people. Why? Because people matter to God and the thing is, we are called to minister and not just conference employees.
“Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.” Zechariah 2:8
2. God is still in the business of doing awesome things
When we read the Bible, we see God doing some absolutely breathtaking things in the past. He parted the Red Sea with Moses (Exodus 14), He used a donkey to talk to Balaam (Number 22) and brought people back from the dead (John 11). However, sometimes we fall into the trap of not expecting God to do awesome things in the present.
After Peter was used by God to heal a lame man, the Jews responded with amazement and awe. However, Peter said, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this?” (Acts 3:12). Peter’s reaction is one of “meh, what’s the fuss about”. Why? Because in his relationship with God, he had come to expect God to do awesome things.
Be like Peter because God is still in the business of doing the impossible.
3. Think before you speak
I remember being taught this as a child. “Joe, think before you speak!” but after 25 years, I still find myself making this same mistake I know I’m not perfect and I recognise that I’m susceptible to making mistakes like anyone else. I’m not naive to think otherwise. However, I wish this was one area that I was perfect in.
“Think before you speak.” Ecclesiastes 5:2
To whoever wrote Ecclesiastes, be patient with me.
4. Counting to 10 isn’t very effective
From rude waiters to being cut up on the motorway, I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where someone’s rubbed us up the wrong way. In these moments, there’s always the one friend who says, “Count to 10, [insert name].” The problem is, counting to 10 doesn’t work. Well, at least not for me.
I remember reading a Christian poster which said, “don’t count sheep, talk to the Shepard.” Whilst this was written for a different context, when it comes to counting it does offer some wisdom. In these moments of frustration, I need to be speaking with Jesus. Isaiah’s words comfort me:
“You [God] will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
The next challenge now though is to remember to talk to the Shepard before I speak without thinking.
5. “Remember that God was working here before you arrived so look for what He has been doing”
When I heard this, it took me back for a second. I don’t have a saviour-complex or hold to the idea that I’m in this role because I can fix all of the problems. However, this was a helpful reminder as I started out in ministry. I’m not indispensable and at some point in the near future, I will move onto new pastures. God was here before me and He will be here long after I leave.
Sometimes I think we take responsibilities from God and try to carry these burdens ourselves. That’s not just for those in full-time ministry, but also for Sabbath School teachers, Personal Ministries leaders, Elders and anyone else who is ministering alongside God. We need to remember that we’re assisting God in this work of restoration and not the other way around. God has been invested in this work longer than we can ever imagine.
Life is a journey. I have enjoyed my first few months in ministry and I’m excited for what lies ahead. One other thing I’ve been reminded of is the importance of prayer. If I can pray for you, shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to. If you see me around, be nice, I’m still new to this ministry thing. If we can work together to do something awesome for the Lord, hit me up. I’d be interested in working together.