Author’s Note: All subsequent Scripture quotations and paraphrases are taken from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise stated.
There is an old saying that “leaders are naturally born.” That is far from the truth. Over time, leadership, in all phases, are taught and developed to be successful in their chosen field. Some people will pick up leadership traits very quickly, and there are others that are slow to pick up leadership traits or they do not develop them at all.
Vision is a characteristic that a leader needs to be successful. It allows them to see their thoughts or ideas, so they start to formulate plans that can bring this vision forward. In The Student Leadership Challenge, Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders, “They see pictures in their mind’s eye of what the results will look like even before they’ve started their project, much as an architect draws a blueprint or an engineer builds a model” (Kouzes and Pozner 2008, 13). Leaders need to consider all the factors that led to this vision, the results, and to envision the future, positive or negative.
The Bible discusses how God took ordinary men, gave them vision, and turned them into great leaders that we strive to imitate. Abraham went from a pagan nation (Gen. 11:31) to the land that God will make him a great nation (Gen. 12:1-2). Moses ran from Egypt (Ex. 2:25), became a shepherd (Ex. 2:17), received his call to deliver Israel from Egypt (Ex. 3:7-10). David was a shepherd boy (1 Sam. 16:12) to the King of Israel (2 Sam 5:3). Each of them had a timeline of events that eventually led them to be great leaders of God. A timeline can reveal the overall pattern of work that God has for a leader’s life (Clinton 2012, 37).
My family was Catholic and Mormon, so it was enforced to learn both doctrines. I was confused for many years until I was introduced to a couple, filled with the Holy Spirit, which removed the confusion and led me making Jesus the Lord of my life. I started my journey in hearing the call to ministry, God directing my steps, and developing my ministry philosophy.
Hearing the Call to Ministry
Being called to ministry does not happen naturally. This calling is a response to God in a person’s life (Mathew 2017, 18). The apostle Paul stated, “so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12). I have felt God calling me to a pastoral ministry, but I did not confirm if that was God, Satan, or human feelings talking to me. I received a divine confirmation from one of our church members. She came up to me before morning services that God told her that He is calling you to ministry. God made my calling very clear by reinforcing it through other people (Clinton 2012, 115).
This confirmation was very exciting to me that I started to study my Bible more, asked lots of questions to my pastor, focusing on doing God’s will, and accomplishing His work for me (John 4:34). My decision did not set in very well with family and friends. They rejected me, and I automatically questioned God’s calling for me. I was reading the book of Romans, and one passage stood out for me. “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7). I meditated on this passage as it gave me such a boost that I did not care who supported or rejected me; it was all about what Christ thinks of me, and he will never reject me.
God gave me a divine affirmation that renewed my purpose and refreshed my desire to continue to serve Him no matter what others think or say about me or my calling (121). It happened in the early morning hours while sleeping. I woke up after feeling some pain down my left hip to my ankle. I went on my knees and heard Jesus’ voice and his hand on my back. He assured me that my calling was divine, to continue what I was doing in studying the Word and put me back to bed. I woke up that morning, and I read the following passage, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 4:4).
Hearing my call to pastoral ministry, this allowed me to focus on my purpose and for a sense of identity as Jesus had when he started his ministry (Mathew 2017, 23). God started me with teaching Bible studies within the church. I taught youth, then moved to young adults, and finally the older adults on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. Mathew suggests stepping out of faith at some point (177). I was excited to prepare to teach notes and study guides for all who participated in our Bible studies. The more I thought to myself about expanding my knowledge, the more I needed a mentor with the expertise and numerous years of experience, and God blessed me with a mentor.
A mentor is a person who God brings into your life that offers guidance and growth in your ministry (Clinton 2012, 114). My mentor was a gentleman with over fifty years of pastoral experience. I would go over to his house and would discuss ministry and preparation, and I would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us. It prepared me for my first sermon, which was such a huge success that the church voted me in as Associate Pastor. Even though I was grateful for his mentoring, I still needed training that he could not offer. I kept seeing signs for a Bible college in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I place an application and started classes.
The training that I attended through my mentor was an “informal apprenticeship” (77). The training that I was desperately seeking was in a formal setting with experienced professors that I can gain a plethora of knowledge and earn a degree. The more that I learned and applied to my sermons and teaching Bible studies, the more animosity and conflicts started between myself and our Senior Pastor. With my pulpit time reduced, I knew God was telling me time to move on. Obedient to God, I resigned as Associate Pastor and left the church.
My Ministry Philosophy
Ministry philosophy, as stated by Clinton, “is the ideas, values, and principles whether implicit or explicit that a leader uses as guidelines for decision making, for exercising influence, or for evaluating ministry” (157). Years ago, I wrote a general statement for a church that reads, “We believe, teach, and confess that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God.” Inspired comes from 2 Timothy 3:16 so that we are all equipped for all good works, inerrant comes from 1 Peter 1:20-21 for all Scripture was not made up by any human, but moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God, and infallible from 2 Timothy 3:15 for the wisdom that will lead all to salvation through faith.
This statement, I used as my foundation, to build on my ministry philosophy. I need to be a servant to others that are in spiritual need, and by having a grasp on God’s Word, I can assist them in leading them to salvation. To be effective and to make disciples, my character must be in line with the Word of God to the effective leader for the church and the community. My ministry will be lead fully by the Holy Spirit to be the Spirit-empowered leader that God wants me to be. There will be challenges as with all ministries and will use prayer and the Bible for all decisions that will benefit the body of Christ.
In conclusion, being called by God to pastoral ministry, I did question if it was God, Satan, or a human feeling. I received a divine confirmation from a church member, which confirmed it came from God. My family and friends rejected me. Felt discouraged until reading Romans 15:7. Reading this passage and receiving a divine affirmation to continue, it refreshed my spirit and renewed my purpose to serve God. It also showed me that I am an overcomer.
I started moving in God’s direction with teaching various Bible studies at my church to the youth, then young adults, and our elder adults. I was able to expand my knowledge with the blessing of a mentor that has many years of ministry experience who took a keen interest in my ministry. Knowing that I needed formal training, I enrolled in a Bible college; all was going well until animosity and conflicts started between myself and our Senior Pastor, so I resigned and moved on.
The basis of my ministry philosophy is from 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 1 Peter 1:20-21. To be leaders in ministry, we must present our preaching and teaching from the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. All the motivation, sacrifice, authority, submission, and spiritual empowerment will do us nothing unless we have a grasp of the Word of God.
Clinton, J. Robert, 2012, A Making of a Leader, Second Edition, Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Kouzes, James and Pozner, Barry, 2008, The Student Leadership Challenge, Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Mathew, Thomson K., 2017, Spirit-Led Ministry in the Twenty-First Century, Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.
The Holy Bible, New American Standard Version.