By Paul Tripp
Nothing will harm your ministry more than thinking that you have arrived. Nothing will harm your ministry more than you thinking that you no longer need what you have been called to give the people that you lead. One of the dangers of being in ministry is that you no longer are receiving the ministry that you desperately need. There is no one in ministry, no matter how significant their leadership or responsibilities, that is a grace graduate.
You see it is impossible to lead, teach, and disciple people into a truth that you don’t desperately need yourself. Leading people the way God has designed for you to lead people is rooted in humility and recognizing your own need for grace. Because you are needy, you are excited about the gospel of grace that has met your need and you want to mobilize others to receive what you have.
No one gives grace, extends grace, and trains people better than a person who recognizes a need for it themselves. The best disciplers are those who are still being discipled. The best mentors are those who are still being mentored. The best teachers are those who are still learning. And the best leaders are those who still crave the leadership of others.
Ministry is never just shaped by knowledge, experience, and skill but by the condition of your heart. The danger is that the more you know, experience, and see success, then the more spiritually mature you may think that you are. But knowledge, experience, and skill does not necessarily result in spiritual maturity. There are still areas of your life in which you need to grow.
As you lead in ministry, consider the following questions.
- Who speaks into your life?
- Who mentors you?
- Who helps you to know, see, and understand areas in which you need to grow in discipleship?
First Timothy 4:16 reads, “Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Notice Paul’s advice to Timothy: watch yourself and watch your teaching. By watching both of those, you’ll save yourself and your hearers. I don’t think there’s better advice than this to anyone in ministry. Keep an eye on what God has called you to do and do that well. But it’s not enough to just keep an eye on your ministry. You must also keep an eye on yourself.
- What is God teaching you about you?
- How are you nurturing yourself with the Word of God?
- Are you committed to areas where change or growth needs to take place?
- Are you opening yourself up to the personal ministry of others and inviting them into your private space?
As you lead in ministry, open yourself up to your own need. Celebrate that there’s nothing you will ever lead people to do in discipleship that you don’t need yourself, and resist ever naming yourself as a grace graduate.