Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
I’m thankful for the provision of godly friendships in the ministry. I have found it both encouraging and enjoyable to have like-minded friends who not only sharpen me, but are just fun to be around. This week I will head to New York City to preach for some very dear friends of mine. I’m looking forward to enjoying some time together with them and other pastor friends in the area. As I am preparing for my trip I began to thank the Lord for the friends He has brought into my life from, literally, around the world. Friendship is important, but the type of friend is even more important. So, I thought those in our church family, especially, might like to know what kind of friends in ministry your pastor hangs around (yes, I do have a few. I think.).
My friends in the ministry are those…
1. Who have a passionate, intimate walk with God. I, just like anyone else, need friendships that will help me not hurt me. This comes when we surround ourselves with people who walk daily with God. As I think about those who are closest to me I am grateful that these co-laborers in ministry are men who walk with God and will truly sharpen me to do the same. These are men who stand for the fundamentals of the faith and refuse to compromise on His Word. Their hunger and desire to know God and stay close with Him is contagious.
2. Who care more about prayer, and less about gossip. Never over estimate the power of a praying friend. I’m grateful there are men I can text right now and know that whatever need is in my life and ministry they will pray for me and with me. What a blessing to have that kind of ministry friend – a friend who doesn’t preach about your problems to his congregation when you’re not around, but a friend who prays with you as you walk through the valley and is willing to walk with you.
We are in the middle of our annual Vision Offering campaign. Each year a special project is chosen in our church ministry to designate the special offering to. This year, we are asking the Lord to provide a ministry vehicle (25 to 29 passenger shuttle bus) for groups in our church family to use for activities and long trips. With three weeks to go we are over half-way there to achieving our goal of $50,000.
Luke 12:34 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” One of the truest indicators of your heart’s condition is what you do with your money and possessions. I have been overwhelmed by the response of our church family to give to this special offering. Not only are people giving out of their income, but you are going the extra mile…selling vehicles, having yard sales, even taking portions out of your IRA’s. It’s phenomenal! As we think about the heart of our giving, let’s remind ourselves of three important biblical principles related to giving.
EVERYTHING I HAVE BELONGS TO GOD.
This is where giving begins, understanding that everything I have belongs to God. Somewhere along the way we got this idea that only 10% belongs to the Lord. Think of it this way: 100% belongs to God, He just allows you to manage 90% of what is really His.
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” In the margin of my Bible, beside these verses, I’ve written this phrase, “Strive for Excellence.” Everything we do in our local church ought to be done “heartily, as to the Lord.” Why? Because we “serve the Lord Christ.” He not only deserves our very best, but He deserves to be served in a spirit of excellence.
How do we maintain a ministry of excellence as we serve the Lord through our local church? Let me share with you 10 principles we use to train the leaders of LBC as we strive for a mindset of excellence in our local church (Please keep in mind that no claims of absolute originality are made for some of these statements. Many of these I have gathered by leadership training through the years).
1. Who you are is more important than what you do. – More important than the position you hold or the job you do is the person you are before Christ. Character always trumps position.
2. Your private life makes you fit for your public service. – A ministry of excellence is fueled by people who are real with God when no one else is looking. Spend time in the Word. Walk with God. Meditate on the Scriptures.