by Robert Pophal
One of the most fulfilling endeavors of my life is helping and encouraging young men and ladies who are just starting in the ministry. The energy and zeal that young folks have at that point is just infectious. They are, as the old saying goes, ready to charge Hell with a squirt gun! There is an endless list of lessons and truths that they must absorb and implement as they surge forward in the ministry to sustain a lifetime of service. Here is what I consider to be a short list of the pillars of personal ethos that are crucial for the service of God.
Spiritual & Biblical
There is no substitute or any more important matter than having a personal walk with God. Spiritual servants of God must regularly and meaningfully spend time communing with God through Bible reading and prayer. The most important trait of all Christians, and especially servants or leaders in the work of God, is real spirituality.
It is vital that young people take responsibility for themselves and for their ministries. There is no place in God’s work for laziness or duty-dodgers. They need to own their ministry and their responsibilities. They must take responsibility for their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward with a humble spirit that is dependent on the Lord. They should step forward and admit their mistakes when things go wrong, never waiting for blunders to be found out by others. They must own their failures as much as their successes!
A teachable spirit is vital for success in any field, but especially the ministry. They must be humble enough to be taught WHAT they needs to do, HOW they need to do it, and sometimes even WHERE, WHEN, and WHY they need to do things. A non-teachable spirit is in reality only pride and arrogance.
Passion drives the work of God forward. Zeal for the work of God and the things of God must be the hallmark of servants of the Lord. The size and notoriety of the task are irrelevant to the servants of God who have a passion to do everything for the Lord. When they take every opportunity, accept every invitation, and step up for every need, then they demonstrate passion for the work of God.
It is worse to do a job halfway than not at all. Sloppy work causes others to do more work in order to clean up the mess. They must pay attention to detail, ask questions, and seek feedback. They must think about the task at hand and how it can be done better, more efficiently, and more to the glory of God. They must always seek to improve in every area. Feedback is a gift! They must stay humble enough to admit that They need the input and correction of others to produce the best work possible.
Being on time is both a sign of self-discipline and of respect for those with whom they are meeting. Conversely, being habitually late conveys that they are undisciplined in their personal lives and therefore they cannot be trusted to handle real responsibility. It also shows disrespect as they are conveying that their personal schedule is more important than the people with whom they are meeting.
There is no shortage of horrific examples of what can go wrong in the ministry when moral boundaries and ethical standards are disregarded. They must hold themselves to the highest levels of propriety and ethics in every area of their personal and professional lives. They can never let their guards down because there is a real devil out there that would like nothing better than to make them this month’s example of how quickly and spectacularly a life can be ruined by the smallest indiscretion of sin.
Initiative & Vision
Spiritual leaders go beyond doing just that with which they are tasked. A wheelbarrow is a great work device, but it will only go as far as it is pushed and no further. The words, “It’s not my job,” should never be uttered by servants of the Lord. They must look for what needs to be done and do it regardless of being asked to do so or being recognized for doing it. They should have a vision to see what currently is not, and then they should work hard to bring that vision to reality. They must think about every way to improve and to grow the ministry that God has given to them.
Mercy & Compassion
There is no place in the work of God for mean-spirited Christian leaders. Servants of God who will continue long in the work of God without getting jaded or disillusioned will be those with hearts of compassion toward the lost and hearts of mercy toward other Christians.