Authenticity in Ministry
A good leader is not a perfect leader. Think about it, all the leaders you have ever looked up to. Perhaps this is a pastor, a family member, or teacher. But not one of them was perfect. Everyone is flawed. The person I looked up to the most growing up was, and still is, my older brother. Yet, he is far from perfect and will be quick to admit to it. A good leader is not an ideal leader. Instead, a good leader is one that is genuine, authentic, and invests in others through building relationships with them. Broken, flawed people make some of the best leaders because they are not afraid to learn from their mistakes and allow others to learn from them as well. This may be an idea that you have heard many times before, but it is a whole different game actually to start to build these relationships.
I recently had the chance to go to London through a trip with my school. While we were there, we got hands-on experience in building these types of relationships. Our contact in London told us that the people we would be talking to were hungering for a connection, for the community, and that London is one of the loneliest cities because of the lack of community. Learning how to build relationships with college students in London from all over the world was the most valuable experience of my life. My college has a goal of making every classroom a Great Commission classroom, meaning that every subject and topic that we study can be used for the expansion of the Gospel. I got to put that into practice to build relationships! I always thought that as an English major that wants to teach ESL that my ministry could only be living as an example of Christ and then get involved in a local church. Yet, I learned that I could be intentional with my students, get to know them and what they like and don’t like and what they do for fun. Through building a genuine relationship, I can find bridges for the Gospel.
What about your ministry? What will this look like for you? I want to give some advice for those of you striving to do this. First, it is okay to be uncomfortable. Some of the best conversations that you may ever have might start off awkward and shaky. But don’t let that stop you from speaking up. You don’t have to start the conversation with the Gospel despite what speakers and evangelists may say. Talk about life and talk about interests. Don’t settle for casual, “how’s the weather” kinds of conversations, though. Be real with the people you talk to. Second, pray over your communications. Pray before these conversations and remember them and pray over them afterward. Don’t neglect the power of prayer when reaching your community. Third, be intentional. One conversation may not lead to a Gospel conversation, and that is okay! Keep in touch with that person, invite them into your home and continue to meet up with them. Showing you care enough to stay in contact can mean the world to a person. Lastly, remember that it is not your job to save people, but rather it is God’s. God is the only one who can save, so don’t worry so much over saying the right things or getting all the correct answers. Trust in God and his faithfulness.
Thinking back in London again, I was able to make some of these relationships. Particularly a girl around my age who was in University to be a video game designer. We were able to talk video games, music, YouTube, and other introductory subjects, but were also able to talk about life, dreams, and even church. Despite the time difference, we’ve been able to keep up through Instagram. She is not a believer, but she has a knowledge of God. It has been encouraging for me to talk to her simply and I pray that it is for her as well. She wants community and someone to talk to. Thanks to the work of the IMB missionaries in London, she has been able to find that. Don’t be afraid to reach out and build relationships. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Pray for boldness and wisdom. I will be as well and maybe even just one person can be reached through these efforts, and that one person would be enough.