Leaders are defined by their commitments—non-negotiables they must keep in order to lead effectively and biblically in a ministry setting. Such commitments aren’t standards that other people set for them. In fact, great leaders often expect more from themselves than they do from their followers.
Six times in the New Testament, the Bible says to “make every effort.” I believe if you make personal vows to live out these commitments, you will become an increasingly effective and productive leader.
There are a total of six vows. I’ll share three this week and three more in my next Ministry Toolbox article.
As a leader, I vow to maintain my integrity.
“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with [God]” (2 Peter 3:14 NIV). You don’t need to be perfect to be an effective leader, but you do need to be transparent about your weaknesses. The Bible says hiding your sins leads to failure, “but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NIV).
A person of integrity doesn’t claim to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, a person of integrity says, “This is where I’m confident in my abilities, and this is where I’m not.” When you have integrity, you live out what you say you believe. You don’t just teach truth; you model it too.
If you’re going to lead, people must trust you. All leadership is built on trust, which stems from having a reputation for telling the truth.
As a leader, I vow to forgive those who have hurt me.
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV). You will be hurt in ministry, both intentionally and unintentionally. That’s a guarantee.
Pioneers always get the arrows!
That’s why bitterness wreaks havoc on many ministry leaders. If you allow bitterness to “grow up” in your life, it will choke your heart for God—and it’ll choke your love for people until your heart shrivels.
Without making this vow, you’ll be tempted to retaliate when you’re maligned in ministry. You can’t get away with that and still be a leader. Spiritual leadership requires forgiveness.
Even Jesus, who was a perfect leader, was betrayed. It’s not always your fault, but it will be your fault if you carry bitterness in your heart, as it will keep you from being the leader God wants you to be.
As a leader, I vow to relax and trust God.
“Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter [God’s] rest” (Hebrews 4:10-11 NIV). You’ll need to learn what I call “relaxed concern” to be effective in ministry. You must be concerned about the needs of the people around you, but also remember you’re not God. You cannot bear everybody’s burden all the time.
God is in control. Ultimately, it’s his responsibility to make your ministry grow. Your job is to be faithful, so let God be God.
How do you trust God more in your ministry so stress doesn’t overwhelm you? You pray more. You meditate on God’s promises and remember his track record of faithfulness in your life.
And don’t forget to laugh more. I’ve found that humor is a tremendous stress reliever in ministry.
These commitments will be a source of great strength in your ministry. Next week I’ll share three more vows every ministry leader needs to make and keep.
See 6 Commitments Every Spiritual Leader Must Make (Part 2) for the remaining three vows.