08 August 2015

Longevity in Ministry ~ Dressed in Humility

"Like longevity in life, some basic things are needed -
right genes [to be a child of God], right diet [God's Word],
right exercise [involvement in ministry]
and right environment [a place in God's community - the Church].
The Apostle Paul set it as his goal to walk worthy and finish well. So should we!"

Yet what does the practical outworking of this look like in real life and ministry? How do expats working, ministering and seeking to be Christ’s  “…witnesses… [in] Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1.8, NASB) sustain long and productive careers?

Based off of a sermon by my home church pastor and some additional, subsequent study, I’ve identified priorities, seven of them, that when practiced, can help protect those in ministry, particularly cross-cultural ministry, from burnout and temptation. Even more than protect, these priorities can also give direction and hope as they help us remember that all is grace and a gift from God.

Those priorities are:
1.       Seeking the Lord, consistently and continually
2.       Praying without ceasing
3.       Balancing personal growth, rest and ministry
4.       Welcoming accountability
5.       Committing to marriage and family
6.       Choosing to be teachable, even in difficult circumstances; and
7.       Determining to be a genuine team player.

This post considers that sixth priority – choosing to be teachable, even under and in difficult circumstances.

What does it mean, then, to be teachable?

According to Your Dictionary, teachable can mean:  1) capable of being taught and apt to learn; 2) willing to receive instruction or to learn and/or docile; and 3) that which facilitates instruction. But, teachability involves much more than “smarts” and just being a good student in a traditional academic or teaching situation….

…which reminds me of an African proverb:
“If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail.”

Because teachability, in fact, has a lot less to do with academic ability… and has a lot more to do with willingness-to-learn-ability, regardless of the situation, regardless of any personal cost to pride and regardless of thoughts of fairness/rightness. Perhaps it has a lot more to do with character… and very little at all to do with ability.

To read the rest, please join me over at Missionary Mom's Companion, where I'm continuing an extended series on longevity in ministry. Hope to see you there!


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