It is quite tempting to begin a ministry by looking for the program or method that will be effective in changing people’s lives. We can easily fall prey to looking for the system that will bring success. I know that I can. Ultimately, each one who seeks to be successful in God’s way, will find that programs and methods are merely tools, and that they will only be as effective as the ones who use them. God can, and does, use many different programs to reach and grow people in the church. Yet none of these programs will be truly effective without qualified leaders involved. While God never promised to bless any particular program, He has promised to bless men and women of proven character who follow the principles of ministry laid down in Scripture.
I thought that I do some musing about some of the keys to being a person that God can use effectively.
First and foremost: The man or woman God uses is Holy.
We must be right with God first. Then we can be right with men — including those we minister to.
Isaiah 6:1-8 (NASB95)
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Note that the vision of God first brings a desire to be pure; to be holy. Then comes a call to service.
1 Peter 1:13-16 (NASB95)
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Holiness is the standard for all Christians because God Himself is holy. In preparing for action, programming, for doing the work of God we must be committed to obedience first.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NASB95)
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
God uses the clean vessels whether they are "fine china" or just "everyday" dishes. The issue is purity.
Holy men and women will be used of God no matter what the program.
Jerry Bridges made it perfectly clear when speaking at our church’s Men’s Retreat: “The death of many very good ministries has been brought about by one recurring ‘virus’ — the lack of holiness among its leaders." Those seeking to do God’s work, God’s way must watch and evaluate every thought, word, and action in maintaining holiness in complete and total dependence on the finished work of Christ.
Bridges in his message to our men made it clear that each one of us as must be involved in a passionate pursuit of holiness rather than a merely a pursuit new programs or strategies. There is nothing more important.