Ministry is a calling. Many people of God have answered the call, and many have left us words of advice on how to likewise respond to that call.
First of all there is a great point to ponder,
“Ministry’s not an option for a Christian; it’s a privilege.” Lori Hatcher
Ministry is not “something we will try for a while,” but a commitment. It is a blessing from God, even as our salvation is. It is not about us, but Him who sent us.
The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.” Henri Nouwen
To carry out this calling, we may also need to leave behind the comfort of our churches and parishes. It may require us to do some leg work.
“To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them.” Thomas Aquinas
And this guidance we bring needs to bring transformation. Otherwise, why were we sent. It is again about His work, not our reputations. We are not (or should not be) in the popularity business. De Sales put it wonderfully,
“The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not “What a lovely sermon,” but, “I will do something!” Francis de Sales
We also need to remember that we too need to have a transformational and humble relationship with God,
“A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.” John Owen
We need to seek transformation. We need to grow! This requires us to be fed as well as to feed.
“Pastors and Bible teachers go about their work in communal settings, where they listen to as well as deliver sermons, hear as well as speak, and gain biblical insights from their parishioners as much as they pass them on.” Peter J. Leithart
Or as Gary Rohrmayer, more succinctly put it,
“Great leaders are teachable leaders.”
And ultimately, we as shepherds need to follow the example of our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep. Our ministry may seem burdensome at times, and may not have the kudos (note again de Sales words, however) we might have expected. But here is a great point to close on,
“Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.” John Henry Jowett