In 2004, our first year in Florida, I was questioning everything about my faith and about the church. I reread the book of Acts a few times while praying the Lord would show me what He wanted the church to look like. At the same time I was taking an honest look back over the previous 18 years of pastoral ministry. It was a serious time of looking into the truth of the Bible and the good, bad and ugly of my church experience. I’m going to have a couple of solution writings. This first one is dealing with my mindset. The next one will be some practical ideas for how to save yourself and those who hear you.
My discoveries changed my approach to ministry. Here are some of the things I’ve since embraced and how I choose to do ministry today.
1. I have no ability to change anyone else’s life.
2. I am not responsible to change anyone else’s life.
3. I no longer try to change anyone else’s life.
4. I am responsible to have a John 15 type abiding relationship where Jesus is changing me. I will tell you what I’m learning.
5. Since I am not trying to “fix” you; I can accept you as you are.
6. Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, an a person’s true acceptance they begin a journey of change that will last the remainder of their lives.
7. Jesus is head of the body and has an individual education plan for you and is fully capable of communicating to you without my help. He may choose to use me but doesn’t need me.
8. If you know Him, you will become His witness, you will become generous and you will desire to grow in him. That growth is your responsibility not mine.
9. Ministry needs to be simplified. If I have to put on a major production for you to come to worship and learn you may not really be a Christ-follower yet.
10. I am not responsible for your eternal destiny. I am responsible to share the Gospel.
11. If you are willing to take responsibility for your own spiritual life, I am willing to help you. If you aren’t willing to do much to help yourself, I don’t have time to chase you. Based on the parable of the lost son and the lost sheep, I believe the lost sheep had realized he was lost and wanted to come back to the fold.
12. The Spirit initiates ministry. Leaders need to humble themselves and listen rather than try to imitate someone else’s ministry.
Adopting this mindset will reduce your stress level considerably.