Focus. How elusive it is. Demands of ministry. Urgent needs. Crises. Schedules full to overflowing. Never-ending stress. Intensity! Those of us on the IBL team face these conditions more often than not. I’ve often said to my wife, “We’re so busy we don’t know how to cram one more thing into our schedule.” How about you?
In IBL’s coaching, consulting and counseling ministries we are often involved in one-on-one mentoring situations with ministry leaders. These are intimate and privileged relationships borne from a trust that is earned over time, tested, and blessed by God. The foundation of these relationships is unconditional love, and the singular objective is to help leaders develop greater degrees of victorious living, as reflected in their personal lives and public ministries.
Most of the time… I hate crisis! Usually a crisis is crushing and physically if not emotionally exhausting! The Scriptures are clear that, while I may desire to run from a crisis like a six-year-old runs from broccoli, as a servant of Christ crises in my life and ministry often cannot be avoided! The good news is that, when responding rightly to crises, they can actually be spiritually, emotionally and even physically good for me.
In the past two years we have been called into numerous ministry situations in which there was a notable lack of unity among the leadership team, throughout the church as a whole, or both. In seeking to help these leaders faithfully respond to these situations, we found ourselves going back to first principles: Why is unity important to God? What is He seeking to accomplish through our demonstration of unity? What are the practical prerequisites for unity to flourish? What factors hinder the development of unity?
In Jeremiah 27 the Lord provides us some precious insight into the nature of our ministry in Christ. In verses 1-2 the Lord says…
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. Thus the Lord said to me: “Make yourself straps and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck.
Why is it that we as Christians often struggle so much in resolving problems that enter our lives? We have the inspired, infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) replete with eternal wisdom at our disposal, and we have the Holy Spirit Who resides within us to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). One would think, and it is certainly God’s plan, that with these immeasurable resources we would enjoy the sweetness of victory rather than the bitterness of defeat.
Outwardly it seemed like a very successful local church with a highly effective ministry. Gifted and sufficient trained staff was on hand, the facilities were more than adequate, and hundreds of people made it their church home. Those were the external appearances. Internally, the lay leadership behaved tentatively, the membership seemed to lack commitment, and a sense of enthusiasm and hope was absent.