Max Smith, Florence, MS – In my years of training, I observed my elders giving love more than correction. I tend to remember that I was shown mercy and grace in the past and typically will lead my congregation in this manner. I feel that part of discipleship is mentoring the younger ministry team in leading them by example. In this day and time, the word discipline (correction) is not a very common word to be used among most churches. I tend to be more of a “discipleship” teacher rather than a disciplinarian. It works well with my ministry team and congregation to lead in such a way as to establish a desire to emulate my actions. My advice would be to always be open to accept discipline in your ministry, which can help establish a healthy and cohesive ministry relationship.
Danny Robbins, Tupelo, MS – When disciplining a minister, you should always approach the situation with love. Let the minister know the severity of the situation that is at hand and work it out together. Love is key. When handling a disciplinary action, I feel that the pastor should be the only one to discipline. Allowing other ministers to handle it for you might break confidences. We have to encourage, teach and motivate. As pastors, we can’t make anyone have a burden. Try to set the stage to create a structure for the young men to follow. You have to give young ministers a model to go by. Building discipline in young ministers’ lives is a great part of discipleship.
Jason Donaldson, Lawrenceville, IL – One thing I do at my church is hold ministerial meetings on preaching etiquette. This is a meeting that I feel might help eliminate the chance of a minister saying something out of turn or making a mistake. We need to mentor our young ministers before they speak, not wait until after the fact. I also encourage my young ministers not to teach on controversial issues behind the pulpit; this is something I will take care of myself as the pastor. No one is perfect. Somewhere along the way, we must be prepared for the young ministers in our church to make mistakes. You have to give them room to make mistakes, then help them through the hurdles that they can face as a result. I wouldn’t let nervousness or fear of using young ministers keep you from allowing them to be used. Be patient and have trust in their calling. Help them develop their ministry. A lot of discipleship comes before discipline. Discipling, preparing and training the young minister can eliminate some of the future corrections.
James Manning, Fenton, MO – I teach our ministers in an Undershepherds class that deals with conduct, lifestyle and commitment to the ministry. This seems to help ward off a lot of problems with the ministry team. Discipline is taught by action and teaching that will turn them into well-balanced disciples. In order for those working under you to be disciplined, you need to be an example. You cannot impart what you do not possess.
Doug Rice, Sparta, IL – This subject is very important because I’ve seen several young men that are infatuated with the pulpit but aren’t necessarily called to ministry, and they become frustrated in their walk with God and even destroyed spiritually. Mentoring young ministers takes time, and what I mean by that is, it’s not always easy to tell immediately if a young minister is following a true calling or just got back from a convention and is on a spiritual high. We must look for consistency and faithfulness in their walk more than how well they can speak before an audience. If the call is real, it will keep them working for the Lord even when they are not behind a pulpit or have a position. You simply cannot and will not last in ministry if you are not willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. I try my best to lead by example in this area. There is no job that I am unwilling to do for the Lord if I am physically able to do so. It’s my observation that the hungry young minister always has an eye open to his spiritual leader and walks in the same path as the one he is trying to follow. Not everything you will face as a minister can be solved by earthly wisdom or good counsel, but a disciplined prayer life will keep you solidly rooted when things don’t go as planned. Enjoy the small, seemingly insignificant parts of ministry because they are building you. The simple things are the testing grounds for the greater things.
Jesse Starr, Minot, ND – Your life as a pastor or minister will influence young ministers. Spend time with them. I try and set out a training path. I’m a strong believer that a call to ministry is foundational, and as they develop I try to provide ministry opportunities for them. I strongly stress that a good work ethic is critical. They must pray, study and fast. The way a man does anything is the way a man does everything. If a young minister isn’t disciplined in regular life, he or she won’t be disciplined in the spiritual life. When people turn toward performance, you must address it. There is a lack of discipline in the church today, but there is also a passion and that’s a very good thing. I firmly believe in evangelism but sometimes we can over-balance. I see evangelism has become the “answer-all” and because of this discipleship is critical. Remember that your ministry is an outgrowth of your personal relationship with God. Keep it strong, no matter what. Trying to define success causes some ministers to make wrong decisions. Success is simply fulfilling the will of God in your life, and as long as you’re doing what He called you to do, you’re successful.
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