In Acts 20 Paul is giving a farewell speech to the Ephesians pastors. He had discipled them, trained them, and was now leaving them to do the work God had called them to do. The context of the challenges was strictly geared toward these ministry leaders. Read the detailed instruction he gives in verses 32-38:
 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.  I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.  And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.  And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,  Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
With these reminders let’s consider six challenges for the ministry leaders of the church, particularly church staff.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE WORD – verse 32
The Bible is the manual for leadership, and effective leaders of the church will first and foremost immerse themselves in the Word of God. As preachers, we cannot be communicators of the Word only, but students of the Word. It is the Word of God that “builds us up” in strength, sanctification, and spiritual discernment.
DON’T BE GREEDY – verse 33
Contentment is realizing that Father knows best. Contentment is satisfaction in and submission to what God has given me (1 Timothy 6:6-8). There is no contentment without godliness and there is no godliness without contentment. Paul reminds us that the leaders of the church cannot be greedy people. We must practice contentment.
WORK HARD – verse 34
Take ownership of what you have been hired and called to do. When Paul told Timothy to “make full proof of thy ministry,” he was telling him to do everything your ministry requires you to do. If it requires you to fulfill a list…fulfill it. If it requires you to be in at a particular time…fulfill it. Work hard! Will you consider these helps?
- Work through a checklist of your responsibilities. Write them down.
- Start early. Refuse to procrastinate.
- Finish the job. Don’t leave task undone.
- Never assume. Ask questions – communicate thoroughly.
- Give the ministry all you got.
GIVE GENEROUSLY – verse 35
The church leader should manage his finances to be a continual blessing to others (1 Timothy 6:18-19). Generous giving goes beyond what is expected, and every church leader should lead the way in this type of generosity.
PRAY WITH OTHERS – verse 36
The scene in this verse is incredible – “he knelt down and prayed with them all.” Anyone who knows me understands that I passionately believe the the most influentional and powerful ministry of the church is prayer. The church staff should lead the way in praying with others. Be sensitive to the needs of others, be available to bear their burden in prayer, be intentional in praying with them. Pray with your pastor, pray with your co-laborers, pray with your church family. Before a service, after a service. At the altar, in your office. In the church, in their home. Makes no difference, just pray with others!
LOVE PEOPLE – verse 37
Without love our gifts, abilities, and talents are just a noisy nuisance and of no help to anybody (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The ministry is people and it begins with loving people. Consider these areas that will help us grow our love relationship with our church family and church staff:
- Serve them – don’t be guilty of wanting to good service and not giving good service.
- Forgive them – church leaders cannot hold grudges and bitterness. We must choose to forgive.
- Accept them – choose to love people for who they are, not judge them for what they’re not.
- Encourage them – write notes, send texts; work through a list; make this a schedule routine.
- Involve them – Jesus didn’t just tell his disciples to wash feet, He himself washed their feet.
- Know them – to serve God’s people, we must know God’s people.
There is no greater help in loving people than 1 Corinthians 13. We must learn to love people the way God loves them.
Let’s intentionally lead and make full proof of our ministry.