ESSENTIAL QUALITIES FOR MINISTRY
By Rodney W. Francis
There is a genuine concern amongst Christians at the lack of the numbers of men and women who are entering the ministry today. Not that it is a new “problem,” for Jesus told us that “the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:35-38 ). If Christianity is going to continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century, then it is absolutely vital that we are producing keen, “called of God” men and women who are totally in love with Jesus Christ. Why do I say this?Because it is only a strong love for Jesus that will enable us to rise above all the negatives that come against those who are truly called of God into ministry.
In Acts 6 we read of the qualities required of those who were going to serve God through serving widows tables. Those qualities had to be seen and known amongst the people. Those qualities were already at work in the lives of those called before the calling was publicly given! Let us look at those qualities, for they are surely still just as applicable today as they were back there.
1. GOOD REPUTATION (Honest Report) ~ Acts 6:3 :
Those chosen had to be of good reputation. They had to have a good testimony amongst the people; be spoken well of with regard to honesty, character, actions, reputation. What that means is that those chosen to serve must have the confidence of the people they are serving. If the people do not have confidence in those in the ministry, then their ministry is not going to flourish. And when the pressure is on, anything other than the above qualities will soon reveal itself and disqualify us from the position we have been called to.
I am amazed at how much dishonesty and lack of integrity that often shows itself amongst the Christian community. Many do not keep their word, break their promises, often lack true commitment, and generally can show an apathetic approach towards those who are there to help them get to where they should be in God. So, let the questions be asked of us personally:
2. FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ~ Acts 6:3 :
Those called of God must be filled with the Holy Spirit. He has been sent to “lead and guide us into all truth” (John 16:13 ). Jesus commanded His disciples that they were not to go forth until “they had been endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49 ; Acts 1:8 ). The word “endued” means “to be clothed, to clothe oneself” (Bullinger’s). A Christian is not properly dressed until he/she is filled with the Holy Spirit! Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, gives us“power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you”(Luke 10:19 ). When we are full of the Holy Spirit we have so many advantages in ministry over those who are not. Questions:
A sincere searching of the Scriptures will show us the importance of our being filled with the Holy Spirit today. We need to be reminded that the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is more than an ability to speak with other tongues. Jesus said it was power coming upon us! There are far too many powerless Christians amongst us. I believe the speaking in other tongues is a very important gift for us to have, for it enables us to “edify ourselves” (1 Corinthians 14:2 ) in the spirit and so be more aware of what the Lord is saying to us. (This article came about as a result of my pray-walking and speaking in other tongues as I went walking ~ this often happens for me.)
Another reason why the infilling of the Holy Spirit is so important is that He brings with Him into our lives nine beautiful Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ). We are not battling “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”(see Ephesians 6:1-20 ). Our warfare is a spiritual one, and to win in that war we must have the weapons of warfare: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ).
Spiritual Gifts are the Christians’ “tools of the trade.” They enable us to achieve what we are unable to achieve any other way. They are God-given and we neglect them to our own hurt and loss. Remember, they are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit ~ and we need Him and His power residing within!
3. WISDOM ~ Acts 6:3 :
The wisdom spoken of here is a heavenly wisdom. It comes from the Greek word “sophia” and means “wisdom, cleverness, skill, etc.; a right application of knowledge” (Bullinger’s). It is the same wisdom that is mentioned in James 3:17 ~ “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” Suddenly we see that heavenly wisdom is far far different to that which we generally think is wisdom. Godly wisdom carries all the ingredients of James 3:17 ! All of these things that James mentions will be tested in Christian ministry!
Wisdom is skilfulness in rightly applying the revelation of God that He has been revealed to us so we can fulfil our calling in Him. That revelation knowledge will always be confirmed by the principles of Scripture, the Bible. It is one thing to hear from God; it is entirely another to know how to apply what He says to us. That takes wisdom!
4. FULL OF FAITH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ~ Acts 6:5 :
Those called of God must be men and women of faith. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 ). It takes faith to obey whatever God speaks to us. And those serving Him surely need to hear what the Lord our God is saying. Otherwise, how do we know what to do? God certainly does not become “a programme”! He is very creative and He knows how to reach the hearts of the people.
As I look back over nearly 50 years of Christian ministry, I can see how important it has been to trust God in whatever He says. As I have listened to Him (often against the wishes of others), I have seen God provide for us in so many different ways to enable us to impact our generation for Jesus Christ. Today The GFM Ministry is touching thousands of lives around the world through the avenues the Holy Spirit spoke to me about starting. When we are conscious of doing the will of the Lord, we are also confident that He will supply for that which He has called us to do. Far too many ministries have gotten themselves caught up in the “begging for money to keep the work of the Lord going” syndrome, that it is no longer funny. The way we approach, get, and handle finances in Christian ministry can determine our honesty and integrity.
It was the Christian believers who recognized the four essential qualities in the seven menchosen to serve tables (not, at that point in time, to run an evangelistic crusade). When the Christians brought those names to the apostles, the apostles prayed and then imparted something of that Holy Spirit authority into them to enable them to function as Holy Spirit-filled men of God! Immediately, after hands were laid on them, something happened in the spirit realm, for the Bible says: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7 ).
From those humble “serving tables” beginnings, those seven men rose up to become a force to be reckoned with. If you read on through the Book of Acts you will see that Stephen and Philip were launched into ministries that impacted thousands for the Kingdom of God. Stephen became the first New Covenant martyr and laid down his life for the cause of Christ (some of us will do that, too, before we are through). (You can read his great message in Acts 7 .) Philip went on to have a city-wide revival in Samaria (Acts 8 ). From there he was called by God to leave the revival and go out into the desert. There he met an Ethiopian, witnessed to him, led him to Christ, and baptized him in water. From that single encounter the Gospel went to Ethiopia and, for generations after that, the Gospel had a powerful influence in that nation, and many became Christians.
Ministry calling must embrace the above four points. Without them we will surely fail. It is not about intellect, education or degrees. None of those things are sufficient without the essentials given in Acts 6 . The call of God is a heavenly call. It is not about what can be accomplished through natural ability and talent.
It is no use our saying, “we will attend to that when the call comes,” for when the call comes it will demand the afore-mentioned essentials as the “green light” for the next step. And . . . if we are not working on making sure we are totally honest in our dealings with others NOW; if we are not filled with power of the Holy Spirit NOW; if we are not experiencing that wisdom of God NOW; and if we are not growing in faith NOW, then we are going to find ourselves unacceptable and unable to fulfil the call of God later on.
Make sure your life has these four essential qualities!