Continuing our series on Indicators of Good Practice for ministries among the Poor we shall now consider the next three under the category of Church and Leadership.
3. Hearing God
Jesus did nothing ‘on his own authority .. but always ..the things that are pleasing to Him’ (Jn 8:28, 29).
It is vital that we are clear that we are in the centre of God’s will for at least two reasons. First, any ministry we undertake should be the result of seeking God and walking in obedience to Him. So, there needs to be a very clear sense of leading. This needs to be specific, which leads us to the second reason.
When the going gets tough (and it will!) we need to be able to have the confidence that we are on-track with Him and are not just following a good idea. We must have the certainty that God has spoken and commissioned the ministry. By doing so we can withstand the fiery darts of the enemy. It was in this way that Jesus was able to resist the temptations from the enemy when he was in the wilderness. He was able to say with confidence “It is written…” (Matt 4:4, 7, 10). In other words, he knew that God had spoken. So must we!
4. Vision to be clear
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (Prov 29:18).
If we lack vision we have no clearly defined track to travel on, there are no restraining guidelines, our destination is uncertain. For any ministry to be successful there must be a sense of purpose and direction for what is being implemented, with agreed goals, objectives and expectations. (We shall consider these in more depth when we consider Indicator no 9 – Project Cycle Management).
However, the vision must not be so rigid as to inhibit us. As time passes there are inevitable adjustments that need to be made and our ministries must be able to accommodate change which may be identified during the monitoring process. One translation uses the expression ‘progressive vision’. This carries a fluidity with it i.e. a vision is not ‘cast in stone’.
5. Gospel impact
The Kingdom mandate of Is 61:1-3 shows how, in the space of 3 verses, the poor can be lifted from abject poverty to active mission. The following verses (4-9) then give examples of how this is outworked through increased influence and reputation, even across the nations: ‘Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples….’ (v9).
The gospel should be at the heart of all that we do and successful ministry embracing the Poor should have the clear and conscious expectation that lives will not just be ‘patched up’ with people being lifted out of poverty to a better lifestyle, important as that is. There should be an eternal dimension which they are exposed to, for only the gospel can bring about the heart transformation that will truly lift people into a place of hope and fruitfulness. So, we can expect to see gospel fruit evident in people’s lives.
In what ways has God clearly given you leading in your ministry?
How is the gospel bearing fruit through your ministry?