Wednesday, December 05, 2007

10 Prayers to Protect Your Humility


Advice to a Young Leader in a Time of Shaking
Churches and ministries are crumbling because of pride, greed and hidden sin. Here are 10 principles that can help bring stability during this tumultuous season.

Note >>> Turn the points below into petitions as you prayer for humility and stability - "Lord, help me ...

Kevin, a 31-year-old pastor from Minnesota, asked me an honest question this week. He’s been reading about all the scandals that have rocked the charismatic world, beginning with Ted Haggard’s embarrassing moral failure late last year and continuing with the recent divorces among prominent church leaders and the allegations of financial mismanagement made against leaders at Oral Roberts University.
Kevin wrote this: “I am guessing that none of these people started off with the goal of having this be their story. If you were someone in my stage of ministry, what would you do to prevent this from being my lot?” I shared these simple truths with him, and I’ll pass them along to a wider audience—hoping that they will strengthen our foundations while everything around us is shaking.
“If the spirit of entitlement is seducing you, humble yourself and wash some feet. That is what true ministry is about.”
1. Live a humble, transparent life. Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you don’t have issues. You are a flawed, broken individual who has experienced the miracle of God’s mercy. Resist the temptation to live in denial about your weaknesses. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Stay in close relationship with mature mentors and trusted peers who know your temptations, insecurities and any past addictions. Confess your sins to God and to your inner circle regularly.
2. Stay open to correction. Many of those whose ministries are imploding today either worked in isolation or they surrounded themselves with yes men. As your ministry grows, increase the number of people who speak into your life. If your colleagues are rubber-stamping everything you do, consider that a warning sign. If they tell you they can’t correct you because you are either authoritarian or subtly controlling, take a sabbatical and get counseling immediately.
3. Audit your actions regularly. God watches the way we handle the little things. Are you telling the truth? Are you mishandling ministry finances? Are you “fudging” in any area of sexual purity? Do you have checks and balances set in place so that you always comply with the law? God sees every Web site you visit, every personal expense you charge to your ministry account and every exaggeration (i.e., lie) you put in your newsletter.
4. Stay in touch with the real world. Ministry is about loving people. (Duh!) But you will never develop compassion unless you are close enough to the grass roots to smell the poverty, lay hands on the sickness and cry with those who are in pain. The days are over when preachers can arrive in limousines to announce salvation. The Lord is requiring all His servants to come down to earth.
5. Don’t allow people to make you a celebrity. Before Jesus began His ministry, the devil showed Him the kingdoms of the world and offered Him fame and fortune. The enemy of your soul will try to cut you a similar deal. Resist every urge to become a star. Don’t let people put you on a pedestal. If the spirit of entitlement is seducing you, humble yourself and wash some feet. That is what true ministry is about.
6. Make family a priority. We have crusaded against abortion and gay marriage, yet at the same time many in our movement have neglected their spouses and children. People need to know that what we preach works at home. The Bible makes it plain: “But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5, NASB). If we enforced this one biblical principle today, most of the shenanigans happening in charismatic leadership would end overnight.
7. Live modestly and give extravagantly. In a few more years the selfish, money-focused doctrines that tainted charismatic churches in the 1980s and 1990s will be gone. God is bringing balance and correction to a message that has encouraged greed. I do not know Texas pastor Robert Morris personally, but he has become a long-distance mentor to me in the financial area. His book The Blessed Life has redefined how we charismatics should view money. Bottom line: We don’t give to get, even though we know God blesses generosity. We give to give.
8. Don’t build your own kingdom. In the previous season leaders got away with naming their ministries after themselves. That will not work today. The one-man show is over. Leadership today is about building a team. Those who think they can “do it all”—and take all the credit—will end up with meager results when their work is tested by God’s fire.
9. Develop keen discernment. The devil is on the prowl, and we can’t afford to be ignorant of his schemes. Leaders must develop an early warning system if we expect to survive. You must develop a team of watchful intercessors who are committed to praying for you. Those whose ministries are crashing and burning today most likely ignored prophetic counsel from people who saw disaster coming.
10. Maintain your spiritual passion. People who experience moral failure almost always lose their spiritual passion first. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not just a one-time encounter. Because we “leak,” we need to be refilled and recharged regularly. We will burn out quickly if we don’t stay plugged into the Source. The man who led me to Christ, Barry St. Clair, taught me to have a daily appointment with God. I try to guard my time in prayer and Bible study because I know I can’t give what I don’t have. The more I read His Word, the deeper and stronger it grows inside me, providing daily revelation of the Savior—and giving me more and more reasons to make Him my magnificent obsession.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.


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