Preach the Gospel to Yourself

PREACHTHEGOSPELTOYOURSELFDuring my trip to The Gospel Coalition Conference this year, I had an opportunity to meet with a mentor via Serge.org .   This mentoring session was very fruitful for me personally, but I also wanted to share more about something that was repeated a few times throughout the conference.

It was a reminder to us as leaders that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves daily.  But why?

Through my Serge.org mentor, I was introduced to the idea that leaders can get so caught up in the success and failure model in regards to ministry that we can forget the Gospel.

Have you ever said or thought:

Well, I must be doing a good job because God has blessed our ministry with success.

God must be blessing our work, because He has been providing for our needs.

The Lord’s blessing must be on our ministry, because we have seen an increase in numbers.

I must be doing something wrong, I just can’t seem to get any momentum on this project.

The Lord’s favor must not be on this ministry, because we are not growing… we are shrinking.

What is the problem with these thoughts?

They are works based, not faith based.  They imply that success or failure is a result of God being pleased or displeased with something we are doing.   Scripture says that the Lord’s favor falls on righteous and the unrighteous alike, that he raises the sun on the good and evil each day (Matt 5:45,46).

When we run our ministry under the measure of success and failure based on our perception of God’s favor; we are suggesting that we (individually, as a team, as a church) are doing something that God will reward, or God will withhold from.

There is no freedom when you are bound up measuring your ministry by success and failure.  That is a worldly measurement.  Instead our freedom lies in that we are adopted children of God, before we are leaders.  We have His favor because He has given it to us according to His goodness, regardless of how well we run our ministry.  He loves us.  Plain and simple.

When we love Him, and seek to do His will…

When our eyes are set on Him, and our Hearts are in tune to His heart…

When we become His hands and feet…

We serve and we serve well, whether we are serving one woman or one thousand.

When we allow ourselves to get trapped in the success failure model, when things are going well… we feel good.  We feel in God’s favor, we feel as if we are pleasing Him, we feel joy and hopeful.   On the other hand, when our ministry is in a valley and we feel like a failure, then we don’t feel good at all.  We feel like we have disappointed God, or that we are doing something wrong that He wouldn’t reward our work and ministry.  We can even take on guilt that others are not being blessed because of our failure.

We can get so buy sharing the Gospel to others, that we can forget the Gospel is meant for us.  The Freedom of the Cross is a gift for us, too.  So, as much as we need to share the Gospel with others and we can do this through our ministry (in fact, it should be our primary goal)…

… we must share the Gospel with ourselves every morning.

The success or failure of my ministry work has nothing to do with God’s love for me or approval.

His love for me existed before I was in my mother’s womb, and will exist through eternity.  Nothing can separate that.

Ministry work is the icing on the cake, where we celebrate the Gospel with others.

Mentor Value

By Gena McCown, Women’s Ministry Council Co-Founder

pile of hands isolated on white, Caucasian, African American, Hispanic race.Mentorship is important, it is something that the Women’s Ministry Council has encouraged through our meetings and website articles.  When we can put together formal mentoring programs in our Women’s Ministries, we are equipping the women in the church and it trickles outward to those who are in their sphere of influence.

As leaders, we need mentoring as well.  While it may be harder to meet with a mentor on a weekly basis, as we juggle the balance between home life, work life, and ministry life; mentorship is not something to be neglected.  Your mentor may be the overseeing Pastor, a Pastor’s wife, an older woman in the church, or even a Women’s Ministry leader hundreds of miles away that you connect with periodically.

Mentors serve as a landing place where we can not only talk about the practical ins and outs of ministry work, but where we can also come to face some uncomfortable truths.  At the beginning of April, I attended The Gospel Coalition conference.  As part of the conference, there were a few opportunities to attend other events.  One was a breakfast event, sponsored by Serge.org, for Pastors and ministry leaders.  In addition to listening to two amazing speakers, everyone had the opportunity to sign up for a one hour mentoring session with a Serge Mentor.

My intentions were to take advantage of the mentor opportunity in reference to the future of the Women’s Ministry Council.  I signed up with a mentor who had experience as a Pastor, in the mission field, and organizational backgrounds.  We began our conversation with my sharing about what the Women’s Ministry Council is and the long term vision for the ministry; where we were at currently and some of the obstacles we are facing.  I was looking for someone who would give me practical ideas to overcome those obstacles.

What I got was someone who was more interested in ME and less about what I was doing.  He asked questions like:

  • How is your marriage right now?
  • How do you feel about these obstacles?
  • What about your ministry work brings you joy?

Then he hit me with a hard punch….   “I want you to close your eyes and imagine God talking to you right now, what would He say to you?”

I wasn’t prepared for that question.  Or, what my answer would mean.  I was grateful for the conversation that would come from it.  This is what a mentor does, it’s not just about practical steps and problem solving, but an investment in the person.  Asking the questions, getting to the deeper issues, being able to see what may not be obvious to the other person.

This is also why, as leaders, it is important that we have a mentor speaking into our life.  Peers are great for accountability, but mentors are speaking from experience.  Whether you have a regularly weekly meeting or a quarterly check in session, mentors help us see beyond the obvious from a neutral position.  This is why it is best to have someone who is not directly involved with the ministry work.

The Pastor that oversees the ministry can give you perspective from the outside looking in and within the parameters of the church vision.  A long term (or retired) Women’s Ministry leader in another state can speak to you from experience.  A neutral third party may help you see beyond the actual ministry and how the work is affecting your life.  Prayerfully consider how having a mentor involved in your life will not only bless YOU but also those you lead.