My wife and I once lived in a house in which the basement walls had been rushed and poured during a time of the year that allowed for it to crack and eventually leak. That basement was the foundation of our house, and although every other area of the cement walls was strong, this one area was flawed, and every year we had to deal with water coming into the house.
This troubling scenario came to mind as I listened to my pastor’s message today from Matthew 7:24-27 about the importance of building on Jesus and his commands as our sure foundation. My mind wandered back to another message I had heard years ago while I was still in the pastorate about the foundations we, as pastors and ministry leaders, lay when we begin our ministries. His words challenged me that day, and I was re-challenged by them and by my pastor's remarks this morning as I contemplated the foundations on which many ministries are established. I want to challenge you to think about the things on which your ministries were/are founded.
The Foundation of Prayer
When I began to serve in full-time ministry, I realized what I was about to embark on required prayer. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I prayed alone; I prayed with my wife; I prayed with other pastors. So as I look back, I can rest assured that my pastoral ministry not only was founded on prayer, but prayer remained an integral part of my pastoral ministry and it continues to be essential in my day-to-day life.
The Foundation of Scripture
The next foundational element of planting a new church was scripture. I was serious about teaching the Bible. I believe it is the primary way in which God speaks to us and that scripture should be the center of our Christian gatherings. God’s Word is essential for learning who God is, what he desires from me and for me, and for my Christian growth.
The Foundation of Worship
But as much as God’s Word is important in our times together, I understood the importance of worship in song, as well. The singing part of a worship service allows us to focus on God and praise him for who he is and what he has done for us. God created us to sing his praises, and he desires us to do so. If you don’t believe me, do a quick search on how many verses tell us to sing praises to God. You might be amazed!
The Foundation of Fellowship
I also believe that fellowship is important, so our church met on Sundays and other times during the week for study and just hanging out together. We had meals together, camped together, and enjoyed each other’s company in a variety of venues.
The Crack in the Foundation
As I contemplated the foundation of the church that I was part of establishing, I can honestly say that we were strong in prayer, in God’s Word, in worship, and in fellowship, which are all essential aspects of any church (Acts 2:42). But there was something that was missing, a crack in the foundation if you will. It was in the area of servant leadership as laid out by Jesus in Matthew 20:20-28.
I thought I was a servant leader because I would make sure the facilities were clean, there was coffee for people to enjoy, I parked furthest away from the entrance, and I took the last place in line when we had meals together. Now as time went on, others helped with the cleaning and the coffee, but I still did things to try to make people comfortable when they came to church.
I thought that was all that was needed to be a servant, but there is so much more. I realized listening to that pastor many years ago as he spoke about the importance of laying a good foundation for ministry, that my strong personality and need for control created a faulty foundation that had to be re-laid, which meant tearing up the old and laying a new foundation. That meant unlearning what I had been taught about leadership and learn how to lead in a new way. It meant admitting I was wrong in how I treated people. It meant I had to listen to others and give them the freedom to serve God with their gifts that were different from mine. Paul speaks of the church as being like a body, with many parts. The pastor is just one of those parts and is to be a servant to all, and true servant leadership is an important part of the foundation of any ministry.
Maybe there is a crack in your foundation in the area of leadership. If so, I can be your guide on that journey because I have been down that path before. You don’t have to go it alone; Valiant Leaders is here to help.
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