Years ago I heard a phrase from JD Greear that has been one of the few quotes that have stuck with me for more than a few weeks:
You replicate what you celebrate.
Simple phrase but it is a profound reminder – what we make a big deal out of in our ministry will be what the people following us will make a big deal out of. As we give testimony and have conversations with fellow leaders and attendees – we subconsciously are setting up a subconscious scorecard. We begin to steer our ministry towards the passions celebrated both vocally and missionally.
Paul did this both explicitly and implicitly in his ministry and his letters. One of the best examples you see in Paul leading people through a implicit means is seen in his prayer for the Colossian church:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. ~ Colossians 1:3-8
Paul is honestly thanking God for aspects of the Colossians like their faith and love, but he’s also challenging them to keep a good thing going through praising the work of the Spirit in them. At then end of the day, people are human and need motivation – motivation from what they have accomplished and motivation for what has yet to be accomplished.
As we seek to celebrate the pillars of our ministry, here’s a few things to keep in mind as we start to set the course of who we are:
Be clear with who you are and where you’re going
This is an echo to what we touched last week’s piece on clarity, but people will only jump on board with a mission they identify with. If the mission is unclear and murky – people will be content to stay sidelined. Our people will rarely mobilize unless they can find the worth in it, which is why gospel-centered teaching is so important in the church.
When people truly see and savor the goodness of the gospel, they will stop at nothing to share that goodness with the world. Celebrate the God and His gospel as a starting point. Then specific mission falls into place after that.
Show the joy you have to be on gospel mission
More often than not, people don’t want to do something boring or painful. This is no different in the church where the cultural assumption is it is a duty bound snoozefest and there are more than a couple of churches that are glad to oblige that assumption.
The gospel is the greatest treasure on the planet. It is worth the loss of all things in view of the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus as Lord. It gives a contentment that reigns in any circumstance. When our hope is that big, we should have a personal joy that is just as grand.
Capitalize on chances to celebrate God’s work
As we start to faithfully lead in our people in a specific direction (evangelism, giving, discipleship, care for the body of Christ), there will start to be evidence of God’s grace and movement among His people. When that happens, don’t be bashful in recognizing it.
It can come in simple ways like a compliment in a conversation or a hand written thank you note to someone who has served well. There are more public means where you can seek to celebrate what you want to replicate. Testimony and story carry a lot of weight in the lives of people. If you can share those stories with your people it goes a long way in making seem less intimidating and more in the realm of possibility.
Leadership has its ups and downs but God has given us countless things to celebrate – both for His glory and our encouragement.