By James Holland, Sr.
Becoming effective is of the utmost importance in any leadership role. We must remember we are not simply here to provide information; we are here to see transformation! Our proper attitude toward God, ourselves, others, and prayer will have a dramatic impact upon our effectiveness.
Here are five building blocks that will help us be effective. First of all, it goes without saying, we need knowledge of the Word. So study! Then you need to ask yourself these two questions: (1) What do the people already know? and (2) What do they need to know?
Secondly, we, as leaders, need perspective. Perspective is understanding something because you can see it from a larger frame of reference. We need to see the Big Picture, not just what is going on in our little corner of the world. From the spiritual viewpoint, perspective is the ability to see life from God’s point of view. Perspective produces understanding, wisdom, and discernment in our lives. Perspective will cause us to love God even more.
The third building block is conviction. Our convictions produce our values, commitments, and motivations. Convictions help us be diligent in our continual spiritual growth.
The fourth building block is skill. A skill is the ability to do something with ease and accuracy. We develop skills not by listening to someone talk about them, but by experience and practice. As leaders, we need Bible study skills, people skills, prayer skills, relational skills, time management skills, and many, many others. Skills help us do a good job. In James 1:22, James declares that we are to be “doers of the word, not hearers only”. If we want to be effective leaders and produce effective leaders, then we must train and teach people necessary skills for Godly living and Christian leadership.
The fifth building block is character. We are to have Christlike characteristics. Our character is built in the circumstances of life and how we respond to them. God is much more concerned with our character than our comfort! He wants to use us, not pamper us.
What is Ministry?
Distinguish the difference between preaching and ministering. To preach means to simply declare, proclaim, and inform others about a certain situation. You can actually do this without a burden or a vision. The information you are presenting may be true and good, yet, not actually bringing deliverance to anyone. It seems that we have a lot of “shotgun” preaching and teaching in the Christian community. “Shotgun” preaching and teaching is this – we just throw a lot of good stuff out and hope it hits someone! What we need in order to be effective is preaching and teaching with an objective and purpose in mind.
To minister is to meet a need! Ministering takes on a different perspective than preaching. You become sensitive to the people you are going to minister to. Jesus was an expert at ministering. He located people where they were, saw the need, and then He supplied the need. As the end-time church, we need powerful ministry. We need to be sensitized in the Spirit of God, flowing within the operation and the gifts of the spirit so we can recognize the needs of people and then minister to their needs.
When you endeavor to minister to the needs of people, you will always have someone to minister to. The most powerful word in the world is the Word of God. So, we see that ministry is a higher level or dimension of preaching and teaching. It is the dimension that we need to be in today. The only authority we have is to in Mister the Word of God. Our attitude toward God must be right. In fact, if our attitude toward God is not right, then our attitude toward others will not be right either. We must love God unconditionally.
When you minister, you must minister out of the sensitivity of the need. You can preach to people without loving them, but you can’t minister without loving them and recognizing their need. This is exactly what Jesus did. He felt their pulse, their need, their burden and the weight of all they were dealing with. He overwhelmed those to whom He ministered with His love for them. It is easier to stay focused on being effective when we realize that there is nothing that we do in our lives that takes God by surprise. He is not surprised because He is fully aware of our strengths and our weaknesses.
Psalm 46:1-2 states “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in the time of trouble, therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” Then, in verse ten, it says, “Be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted among the heathen and I will be exalted in all the earth.”
Through ministry, we have the opportunity to exalt the name of God. We must know that He is God. He is sovereign. He is in control of my life. He is working with my best interest at heart. We not only have faith in God, we have confidence and trust in Him as well.
If you hate people, you will not be a good leader and you certainly have no business being involved in the ministry. People have a way of offending and hurting you because most people are very self-centered and one-dimensional when it comes to their thinking and attitude. So, we have to spend time adjusting our attitude toward others if we are going to be effective. No matter how grotesque people may seem, we must hate the sin that has made them the way they are, while reaching out in love to minister to them.
Most people create storms of their own making and then try to figure out how to get out of the storms. If you are looking for people who have no problems, quit looking. There is no one like that on planet earth! You must realize that most sinners will not be overjoyed to have you as a leader or minister around them. Yet, realize also, that we are in the people-business when it comes to reaching the harvest that Jesus has declared we must reach. It is people whom the Lord came to save, so you must always reach out to people. As leaders, we must be able to feel the heartbeat of the people we are endeavoring to reach.
On September 8, 1860, The Lady Elgin, a passenger ship, was floundering in the waters not far from Evanston, England. A ministerial student who witnessed the ship in distress swam out to the ship and rescued seventeen people from the sinking vessel. One at a time, He carried them to the safety of the shore. This rescue affected his health for the rest of his life. When he died a few years later, it was noted that not one of the seventeen people he saved ever came to say “thank you.”
As a leader, there will be many whom yet will rescue and, yet, they will never acknowledge you for it or even stop to say “thank you.” Yet, if you are to be effective, you must continue on. You minister because you care about people. People are the harvest God wants you to gather.
To be effective, simply be yourself! Don’t try to be a prototype of someone else, be who God made you. It’s okay to learn from others around us. In fact, God will place people in our lives to help us get to where we want to go. None of us can get there by ourselves.
Let God develop you. God wants you to be the best you can be. If you are five foot ten inches tall, don’t desire to be six foot one. Let God tap the abilities and talents you have because He knows what you are capable of doing. God requires us to be thankful and focused on doing our best. When we do this, God will develop us into the best individuals in the kingdom of God that we could ever be. So, be real! Be You! God evidently likes diversity. Just look at all He has included on this planet where we live. What a dull, boring world this would be if we all had exactly the same personalities and traits.
In being effective, we must not let our attitudes go unchecked for extended periods of time. If we do, we will self-destruct. Joy is one of the greatest gifts God gives to the believer. Joy plays a very important role in our salvation. In Psalm 35:9, David speaks about the joy his soul found in the Lord. Then in Psalm 51:12, David prays, “restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
We all know that life does have its joy zappers! I once told someone that where they were was so dead spiritually and so depressing that they needed to get out of the place. They responded by saying that their loved ones were buried there in the cemetery, so, because of that, they had to stay. I responded that I understood their reasoning, but I felt like their loved ones would leave too if they could.
Nehemiah referred to joy as a strength in our spirit. As leaders, we need to keep the wells of joy open. If we act worse off than those whom we are trying to reach, guess what the results are going to be! Isaiah 64:5 says, “You meet him who fully works righteousness remembering you in your ways.” This scripture is reminding us that as we work and lead, if we do it joyfully, God will meet us in our labor. If circumstances are not what you envisioned them to be, just keep going and be joyful! Paul wrote the most joyful epistle of the New Testament from a jail cell while he waited to be executed because of his faith! Think about it!
Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the spirit is joy.” The spirit of God brings joy to our hearts. To have an effective ministry, we need a good dose of joy on an on-going basis.
Pray – You Stay!
We must guard ourselves against becoming so busy that we lose our connection with the God of whom we are serving. We are commanded in the scriptures to pray one for another. For one not to pray is spiritual suicide. Let’s look at the scriptural pattern that Jesus Himself set. Jesus prayed and then He went out and ministered to the multitudes. Then He came and replenished Himself through prayer. Simply put, He prayed and came in power! This must also be the pattern we, as leaders, follow in order to survive and be effective. Prayer keeps our system clean so that we can continue in our journey.
In Jeremiah 33:1-3, Jeremiah was in prison for preaching what folks did not want to hear. Yet, in this situation, Jeremiah heard from God. When things come our way, we sometimes lose our direction. You can, however, be assured that God doesn’t! To get your focus and direction back, remember that prayer is always the key. God told Jeremiah to “call on me.” God wants us to know that we have to call on Him. Nothing is beyond His power to solve. The battle belongs to God. It is never ours! The victory is ours. When we call on God, He will show us things that we do not know. God is the “I am!” He is not the Great I Am trying to Be, neither is He the Great I Was!
Our prayer life not only helps us stay focused, it enhances our relationship with God. Prayer is a must if we are to remain usable in the Kingdom of God. What good is something that isn’t usable? It is just taking up space. No leader will ascend to the spiritual levels that are needed in this day without an effective prayer life!
Beware of P.M.S.
There are three things that a leader will never be able to control in his or her life without an effective prayer life. The first one is P – Population. Paul said to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life. Popularity will be your downfall if you do not maintain a prayer life. Jesus taught us this principle. While He was on earth, on several occasions, the people as well as the disciples wanted to exalt Him to a position of popularity because they were only considering things with their carnal reasoning. If this had happened, it would have aborted the plan of God. It is good for us that Jesus did not lose focus on the purpose for which He came to this earth.
We must constantly ask ourselves a very sobering question -“Whose Kingdom am I building? Mine or His?” Beware of your ego. Without God’s help, our endeavoring to lead and minister will fail miserably. Remind yourself often that if you drop off of God’s radar screen today, His Kingdom will continue. No one is beyond being replaced. No one! God designed it that way. Some of the same individuals who may think you are so great today would be just as quick to watch your demise tomorrow under slightly different circumstances.
We need to be careful to give God the glory for what He is doing. It’s not our glory; it is His. There is only room for One God in this kingdom and it isn’t you or me! Always remember, except God gives us a word, we don’t have a word that will give direction or bring deliverance. So don’t let anyone put pressure on you to perform. Whether it is a pulpit ministry, a teaching ministry, or any other leadership ministry, you must always endeavor to handle God’s truth properly. [Note: Truth handled the wrong way can bring just as much destruction as a lie can].
M stands for Money. Money is a necessary ingredient in the structure of our society to accomplish almost anything that one would be involved in. While money, in itself and of itself, is neither good nor evil, it goes without saying that the past battlefields of the kingdom are covered with the remains of great warriors who did not handle this commodity properly. Someone has said, it’s not what money does for you that is good or bad, but it is what money does to you that can be good or, in some cases, can be bad.
As leaders, we must handle money instead of letting money handle us. We must do this on two fronts. First of all, in our personal finances. We need to have a good report with those whom we engage in business transactions. The second front is how we handle money in God’s kingdom. God does not want to withhold any good thing from us. He, however, wants us to be possessed only by His spirit and nothing else. He teaches us that everything is His. We are stewards, ones who manage another’s possessions.
S stands for Sex. Sex has been perverted into a demented, deranged experience in our society. I remind you that sex was a God-idea in the beginning. Like so many other things God designed for us humans – such as marriage, having children, building good strong communities – sex seems to have drifted away from God’s plan.
As leaders, you must set perimeters around you. While traveling through the mountains (my wife and I love the mountains), I’ve noticed over the last few years that they are erecting guardrails beside the roadways along the edge of the mountains. In researching some of the accidents in these mountainous areas, one recognizes quickly that over time, people, by not paying attention, have driven off the mountainside, many of them plunging to their death. Others have been injured in such a way that for them life, as they once knew it, would never be the same again.
Statistics proved that it was cheaper and safer for the states to install guardrails in these dangerous areas, even though they knew that someone would eventually run into the rail and it would have to be replaced. Yet, it is cheaper to replace a guardrail than it is to have an emergency helicopter dispatched to clear up a crash and burn site and then notify families of the victim’s death. We should learn from this principle. If you place guardrails in your life, you won’t go over the edge so easily. We have already had far too many leaders crash and burn in this area. This is never the will of God. Remember Leader, no leader is above the instructions and guidelines in the Boss’s
Manual (The BIBLE)! These rules apply to you as well as everyone else. Be wise, not foolish and blind. Stay on the road!
In all your ways acknowledge Him. And lie shall direct your paths. Do not he mine in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.”
Article “Effective Ministry for Men’s Ministry Leaders” excerpted from “Developing the Ministry within You”. By James Holland, Sr.
By James Holland, Sr.