Many believers are today hunting for good churches and genuine shepherds. They are searching for the truth of the Gospel, and men that will truly live the Gospel. Are you called by God to lead and feed His people in the challenging journey of Christian discipleship in the end-time? Here are a few issues that you may please wish to consider. Some of the points may be helpful in avoiding the pitfalls that seem to have ensnared some pastors today. 

(1) ABSOLUTE FAITHFULNESS TO GOD AND THE CALLING: Faithfulness is the most crucial response to every Christian calling – particularly in the leadership cadre (1 Corinthians 4:2, 2 Timothy 2:2). For this reason, beware of the allure of ministry that may try to sway you from faithfulness – power, money, fame. This tripod of evil has caused many men that were genuinely called by God to lose their mandate. With mandate withdrawn, and anointing retained, such men are today groping and stumbling in office, exploiting the flock they were born to feed! Faithfulness is key.

(2) NOT EVERY SUCCESS IS TRUE SUCCESS: Never forget this: success in ministry does not always equate to a successful spiritual life. That’s why Jesus put Matthew 7:22-23 in the Bible. ALL the successes that these ministers achieved in the name of Jesus was levelled to ZERO on the day that mattered the most – the Day of Reckoning. Remember that while men are applauding some ministers for their exploits for God, heaven may be weeping over such ministers. So, guard your intimacy with Jesus jealously – even above your spiritual duties in ministry. In admonishing the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, please note that Apostle Paul said, “Take heed to YOURSELF” before he added, “and to all THE FLOCK”. Also, in 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul told Timothy to first, “take heed to yourself” and then “to the doctrine”. If you do not take care of yourself FIRST, you will not be equipped by heaven to take care of the flock. Unfettered intimacy with Jesus is the true success.

(3) GET THE FOCUS RIGHT: Christ is the heart and the centre of the Church. And in leading the Church, THE FLOCK is the focus of our operation – not the leadership. The leadership exists to serve the flock. Please let this be more than just a platitude; use EVERY means to communicate this clearly to all. Sit on EXACTLY the same type of chairs/benches they sit on. Vehemently refuse all the funny preferential treatment that followers, in innocence, offer to Christian leaders. Usually, this is where the downfall of most pastors start subtly. Very subtly. For Satan stands ready to use this elevated status to plant insidious, evil seeds of superiority in the heart. DO NOT let anybody carry your bags and Bible (unless you are handicapped). FORBID anybody from calling you ‘Daddy’. Jesus did not call you their father, He called you their servant. As much as practicable, don’t be set apart by your dressing (using Jesus’ example). All these may be subtle shades, but they are very important. In ministry, your victory over satan lies in using God’s wisdom to manage lowliness in the place of service. Many have tripped over this fence.

(4) WORK IN A TEAM: God has not called any Pastor to be like a CEO in His Church (1 Peter 5:3). The leadership pattern ordained by God for the Church is on the basis of plurality of elders (Acts 11:30, Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5, etc). There is a huge divine principle behind it. Please follow it. Surround yourself with a team of empowered elders, not ‘Yes-Sir’ men! Most men are naturally awed by authority figures, please don’t amplify that viewpoint. Rather, demystify it consistently so that your people can easily overcome this barrier and relate with you as equals. Your authority does not flow from awe, fear, or intimidation – it flows from God. And, as long as you remain faithful to Him, God will cover your back in your position.

(5) A LARGE CROWD MAY NOT BE A MARK OF PROGRESS: You are called to be faithful in ministry – not ‘successful’, not famous, not rich. So, keep your eyes firmly on your faithfulness day-in-day-out. Even if the congregation does not grow as rapidly as you expect, once you are sure you are being faithful to God – RELAX. God is the one that adds to the Church, not pastors. We must desire growth, but only on God’s terms. Please remember this: “An eye for the crowd may send Jesus out of the Church. But, an eye on Jesus will bring the right people into the Church.”

(6) AVOID PERFORMANCE PRESSURE: Please do not put yourself under any pressure to perform miracles for your members. You are not the miracle worker! Rather, work tirelessly to point your members to God. When they know God, their eyes will be on God, and their miracles will come directly from God – and He may use you or anybody else to work the miracle! Once the sheep see you as a ‘miracle worker’, unknowingly, their eyes will begin to shift from God to you (because you are easier to reach than God). And before long, they will begin to put you on a pedestal. As this progresses, God may begin to turn His back on you – because He has called you to feed His sheep, not to share His glory. 

(7) BE REAL TO YOUR MEMBERS: Please do not fool your members into believing that you are so anointed that you are now above the challenges of life that they face daily. Let them know about your struggles, your trials, your failures. Get them to pray sincerely for you. This is extremely important (2 Corinthians 1:11, Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Hebrews 13:18). This will make them take their eyes off you, and keep it on the BIGGER MAN – Jesus Christ. Apart from this great benefit, this move will also relieve you from performance pressure and the excruciating pain of maintaining a false facade.

(8) LOW BUDGET, LOW PROFILE: In coming days, slush funds will not be widely available in genuine Churches. As you do not have the disposition to manipulate God’s people to ‘raise offering’, it will be very prudent that you keep the Church’s running costs very, very low from inception. This will relieve you from the distracting and corrupting influence of constantly looking for funds to run the Church. And from being forced to look up to rich brethren in the Church for constant financial bail-outs for the Church. Also, please remember that a sizable chunk of the Church’s income has to be devoted to the needy in the Church – that’s a priority expense for a New Testament Church (Galatians 2:10, James 2:15-16, etc).

(9) DO NOT BUILD AN EMPIRE: When your church grows to a number that the Lord tells you is right, please empower and release some members to start a new Church that can also grow and replicate. While playing a supporting role until they stabilize, DO NOT EXERT UNDUE CONTROL OVER THEM. The Church belongs to God, not to you! And they also have the Holy Spirit to guide them. DO NOT tell them to remit a percentage of their income to your branch as the headquarters. Let their allegiance grow Christ-ward, NOT towards you or towards the mother Church. This is the beginning of denominationalism or empire-building. It is a satanic trap – avoid it like a plague!

(10) DO NOT BE ENSLAVED BY ROUTINE IN MINISTRY: This is probably the most important point, and it is deliberately positioned as the last point here so that it will be the main take away. Have your ear permanently tuned to the Holy Spirit for the latest instruction. Do not run the Church by routine. Do not run the Church by common sense. Do not run the Church by experience. Successful ministry is all about carrying out divine instructions. God is not static, and He is not bound by routines. He may want you to stop some apparently successful church programmes. STOP THEM. Just like He may want you to continue with some apparently unsuccessful programmes. So, it is all about hearing and following the latest instructions.

These are just a few of the many issues you may find worthy of consideration. Praying that the Lord will grant you understanding as you prayerfully reflect on these, and the other points that the Spirit of the Lord will bring to your mind.
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