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The Jesus Model of Ministry: Identification

The Jesus Model of Ministry: Identification

This verse is the prayer of my heart: “We do not wish to stand in anyone’s way, nor do we wish to bring discredit on the ministry God has given us. Indeed, we want to prove ourselves genuine ministers of God” 2 Corinthians 6:3-4 (PHILLIPS).

As pastors, we don’t want to stand in anyone’s way. We don’t want to bring discredit to the ministries God has given us. The ministry that you have is not something you achieve, but something you’ve received. Just like your salvation is a gift, the ministry God planned for you is a gift. The apostle Paul echoes what all of us are thinking: “We want to prove ourselves genuine ministers of God”.

What kind of person do we have to be to be effective in ministry? Honestly, I didn’t do this study for your benefit. I did it for my own. I did it because more than anything else in my life, I want to be able to say when I get to heaven that I have matured into the character of Christ, but also that I ministered like Jesus.

Jesus shows us ten important characteristics that we must develop in our ministries and, over the next few weeks, I want to talk to you about the kind of life we must live in order to minister. The first is—

Identification: We must know who we are

I’ve got to know who I am if I’m ever going to be effective in ministry. This means I must know my own strengths. It involves knowing my weaknesses. It involves knowing my limitations. In John 4:10, Jesus says. “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water” (The Message). Jesus had no self-doubts. He knew exactly who he was; in fact, eight times in Scripture he says, “I am” and then he defines himself. “I am the bread of life … I am the way, the truth and the life … I am the door … I am the resurrection … I am the Good Shepherd.” 

If you don’t know who you are, then other people will decide for you. And you’ll find yourself being pressured into molds, and that causes all kinds of stress. Stress is when you try to be somebody you’re not. If you haven’t settled this first issue of “Who am I? What did God create me to be?”, then you’re going to fall prey to two traps: comparison and copying.

Comparison — If you don’t figure out who you are in ministry, you’ll have the tendency to compare yourself to other people. The Bible says we shouldn’t do that. It’s stupid. In Galatians 6:4, the Bible teaches us not to compare ourselves to other people: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else” (NLT).

Copying — When you compare yourself to others, you tend to fall into the second trap – copying.  All of us start off as originals in life. God creates us as originals. But we end up as carbon copies. We look at somebody else and think, “That’s the way I should minister.” When you get to heaven, God isn’t going to say, “Why weren’t you more like so-and-so”? He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you more like YOU”? God has gifted you with gifts and abilities and heart and personality and temperament and experiences—all these things because only you can minister the way He’s made you to be.

If you don’t know who you are in Christ, you will be driven by insecurity in your ministry. As a result, you will overwork; you will be hard on yourself; and you will be hard on other people. You know who you are by knowing WHOSE you are and knowing that God has given you specific gifts. In 2 Corinthians 12:4-5, the Bible says, (and I’m paraphrasing), “God gives us many kinds of special abilities and there are different kinds of service to God. There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are His”. Paul is simply saying here that you are different. YOU ARE UNIQUE. Your ministry is going to be different from any other ministry, even if you are in the same ministry as somebody else. The way you approach ministry is going to be different because of who you are.

Just like snowflakes, God made every one us unique. This week, talk to God about who you are and what makes you unique.

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