Aspects Of A Balanced Ministry
A Willing Mind
Paul tells the Church in 2 Corinthians 8:11-12, “Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” In these verses we can see two important elements of giving (in any relevant ministry):
- it starts with a willing mind to give, and
- one’s gift is acceptable, based upon what one has, not what one does not have.
We can only give what we have first been given! God expects no more, and He expects no less. By His abundant grace, He has made everything needed available in His Church; that which we use in evangelism, as well as the gifts needed in edifying the body of Christ. He pours it out like He did the manna—in perfect abundance and in perfect balance.
As we saw in chapter nine of this study on the principles of revival, we cannot always expect to receive what we want, but we certainly can expect to have what we need as we give ourselves to the work of the ministry. After all, Jesus promises in Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” In other words, there will always be plenty of manna for us if we will only be willing to search for it, find it, and use it for the intended purpose!
Paul continues this thought in 2 Corinthians 8:14-15, “But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.” While it is true that Paul was talking about a financial donation to be made, the principle is certainly applicable to any other form of ministry. There should be, therefore, equality, or balance. Since God is the Supplier of all of our needs, we can expect Him to give in accordance to those needs. There will always be enough, no matter which part of the body it comes through. During a long walk, the feet are certainly contributing their fair share to the task, while the fingers may not be busier than checking the map for directions from time to time. And at the end of the journey, the feet get to rest while other parts are more actively engaged. Like the human body’s tendency to work in balance, so should the spiritual body, the Church. Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Whether in the local church or in a national church structure, therefore, we should strive to find that perfect balance of ministries, ensuring that we have “all sufficiency in all things” and so that we may “abound to every good work.”
Seed For Sowing And Seed For Making Bread
Verse ten of the same chapter is an interesting one. Here, Paul says, “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” We are given seed to sow. We are given gifts and ministry-related talents to be used. And in sowing these, we reap not only fruit to be consumed, but also even more seed to be sown again and again. In other words, the more we give in true ministry, the more we will be given! It is then easy to understand why according to Acts 20:35, Jesus once told His followers, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In giving we find an even greater supply of God’s abundant grace! An important balance can be seen in this part of the principle: as we minister to others, we are given more and more seed to continue sowing. But some of this seed given is intended to be used in making bread to sustain the one sowing! A proper balance is important here. Using what God gives to help others must be balanced with using what we receive for ourselves. Spiritual “burnout” and Christian fatigue often occur when this good balance is not maintained. In a local congregation, for example, leaders must be careful to ensure that the saints are ministering to others, but at the same time receiving what they need for their own spiritual growth and development. Happy is the man who understands the revelation of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for others.”
One of the keys to having a “balanced ministry” in a church, therefore, is in recognizing and encouraging the participation of all the true membership in fulfilling their individual and corporate responsibilities, using the gifts with which they have been blessed. A pastor, for example, should understand that God will bless his congregation with people who will be instrumental in the further development of the church and the expansion of ministries. National leaders should know that they will not be left “under-manned” for the task that they must pursue. The Lord, our Master of the revival, will send laborers as needed. It will be the responsibility of the church leadership, however, to discover the best use of these workers, and also to help them in fine-tuning their skills and ministries to provide the overall balanced ministry necessary.
Not Too Heavy And Not Too Light
Another aspect worth consideration concerning balance is the danger in neglecting one kind of ministry while focusing on another. It is an easy snare to fall into because some ministries are simply more easily carried out than others. Worship and praise in a local church, for example, are some of the easier ministries of a congregation. It is simply a fact that apostolic, Holy Ghost filled saints love to worship their Creator! This is one part of Christian service and dedication that is abundantly enjoyable. Like Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah’s exhortation to find their true joy in the Lord still applies to us in the Church today. It is like drinking the sweet and eating from the best portions on His table!
But what about other often neglected but necessary ministries? As we saw in Chapter Seven, Equipping The Saints, there is a very necessary ministry in bringing church members to the place of personal ministry in the body. This is the responsibility of the leadership described in Ephesians 4:11-12. And to carry it further, the saints (every member of Christ’s body) are then responsible for taking what they have been given by God and sharing it with others. If this ministry of personal evangelism is not taking place in a local assembly, that church might be said to have an unbalanced approach to serving the needs of the congregation and the surrounding community. Teaching Bible studies, witnessing, and inviting others to come to church to experience what we have enjoyed is not always easy for everyone, but it still remains a vital part of a balanced approach to real ministry. Paul said in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with them that rejoice,” which is certainly easy enough to do, but the verse continues, “and weep with them that weep.” And therein is the challenge of ministry to others we call burden bearing.
Unlike the saint who can only find it convenient to pray for his own needs and yet fails in interceding for others, men and women in church leadership must be disciplined in ensuring a more balanced ministry in the body. And this brings us to another reality concerning balance in church ministry: a body of well balanced saints will most often form a well balanced congregation, outfitted with ministerial gifts and abilities that can serve the needs before them. Church leaders, therefore, should focus their energy on producing spiritually well-rounded members in the body of Christ, men and women of faith wholly dedicated to using the tools and equipping made available to them for the furtherance of the ministries of evangelism and edification.
Another potential trouble spot and possible cause of unbalance in ministry is competition in the different branches of the church. Pastors and other leaders have to be careful because each of us has his or her “favorite” kind of ministry and each may have his own specialty. It sometimes becomes too tempting to overly promote one of these special areas of ministry to the detriment of the others, while forgetting that every individual form of church ministry should contribute directly to the overall goals of edification and evangelism. While God will indeed pour out His spiritual manna on us in the form of gifts and talents in the body of believers, senior leaders must remain vigilant in directing this manna to those in need, and ensuring that there is neither too little nor too much.
Still another danger lies hidden inside very dynamic leaders. Sometimes, a leader’s strong zeal and desire for spiritual advancement is too ardently imposed on those that follow. In other words, what seems obvious and easy to the leader may be puzzling and difficult to the followers. A balance must be struck between these two perspectives. While not limiting the vision and capacity of a strong spiritual leader, we must be careful to lead others at a reasonable pace–not too slow, but also not too fast. Visionary pastors fall prey to this too often. As they feel the Lord leading them in their own ministry and their own work, they often expect others to have the same level of desire and quick obedience that has shaped their lives and calling. But this can quickly spiral downwards to frustration on the part of the membership as they fail to grasp the same God-given concepts at the same pace. We should carefully balance, therefore, the vision cast with the capacity to receive it. Clear communication of the task and goals coupled with ample education and equipping for the task will go a long way in providing this sort of balance.
Too Much Manna?
One might wonder about why there would be a danger in too much manna being poured out each day. It might seem like “too much” would be a sign of God’s blessing and His ability to abundantly supply. But there actually is an important lesson in His giving exactly what was needed. First of all, it is important to realize that, more than His ability to give in abundance, is His ability to give in exactness! Never too little, never too much, and never too late are characteristics of the Almighty. In other words, He proved beyond a doubt that He would always give as necessity demanded.
Secondly, channeling this abundant supply through the hands of men and women always invites corruption. Let us consider Paul’s admonition to the Church in 1 Corinthians 12:1-2, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” The two verses seem in opposition, but are in fact completely harmonious. Paul did not want the Corinthian Church to fall short in the operation of the spiritual gifts available to the body, yet he also felt it needful to warn against the abuse of these gifts. “Carried away” is an apt way of describing us when we focus too much on the ministry itself rather than on the fulfillment of needs through the appropriate ministry. As we continue to read in the same chapter we can see that what we often call the “gifts of the Spirit” were very important to the Church. Evidently, the Corinthians relished these gifts more than most, for Paul found it needful to exhort the members there concerning the purpose of this supernatural “manna.”
In verse 4 he says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” This speaks of the source of the manna. Verse 5 tells us, “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” This means that God must remain the overall director of these gifts. In other words, like the manna from heaven that the Israelites found, we must be careful to see the intended use of the spiritual gifts and talents with which we have been so abundantly blessed. Then, in verse 6 we find, “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” This is the way it must remain in His great Church! When Paul said that God works “all in all,” perhaps he meant that the Lord works all the gifts through all the members. He is, after all, the Head of the body, desiring to direct what is needed to where it is needed–not too little and not too much. It is easy to see, therefore, the importance placed upon the proper use in balancing the resources against the needs.
All Eyes And No Ears
"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” Here in verse 18 Paul gives us a glimpse of a perfectly functioning body, each of the members operating in balance and harmony with the rest. But what would be the result if the various members never answered to their specialized calls to service? It would simply mean unbalance and compromised effectiveness!
As Paul put it in verse 17, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” We could substitute in these verses our own specialties: if all were preaching in the Church, where would the ministry of witnessing be? Or, if all were praying, where would the preaching appear? The symmetry of the human body is a wondrous and beautiful thing created by the Almighty Himself. Can His Church afford less than spiritual symmetry? Paul might have answered that question in verse 14, “ For the body is not one member, but many.”
Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, of course, is Paul’s treatise on the proper administration of these spiritual gifts that were so easily abused by the new members at Corinth. In verse 26 he simply concludes, “Let all things be done unto edifying.” Whether we might contribute with a ministry of song, preaching, witnessing, praying, teaching, or one of the special gifts of the Spirit, it must all join together and work harmoniously to the building up of the body of Christ. The manna was not intended to make certain families fat while others slowly starved to death. Neither should the zeal of certain individuals be allowed to sidetrack true spiritual gifts and talents from their intended targets. We must not be afraid of such gifts and talents, but neither should we be negligent in ensuring their proper use for building the Church!
Pastors, for example, should be careful in assessing their own strengths and weaknesses in various areas of church ministry. Some are abundantly gifted in prophetic ministry; others are superior in teaching or preaching skills. While using these particular strengths to bless the church is important, it is equally vital to look for help from other leaders that can excel in areas that are more difficult for the pastor. This does not in any way undermine the authority of the pastor, nor does it change his responsibility. In fact, this balance speaks highly of his superior leadership skills. There is no room for competition when it comes to spiritual ministry! Each has his or her special gifts and spiritual strength areas, and these should be exploited for the common good of the body. Part of the church’s mentality should be centered on the need for, and development of new leaders to place into new and relevant ministries. In a local assembly, for example, the saints should be able to clearly see the value the pastor places on this kind of leadership and its development. “Sowing on good ground” then takes on a new and deeper meaning and can be better understood in a very practical sense.
Head Knowledge And Heart Knowledge
These two subjects represent yet another need of careful balance in true spiritual ministry. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:15, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” In other words, there’s a big difference in instructors and fathers. Perhaps this is also the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Balance means cultivating a caring approach with spiritual knowledge and ministry. It cannot simply consist of passing information on to others, but must be seen as fathering others in a climate of both wisdom and love.
We should note the progressive development described by the apostle in 2 Peter 1:5-8, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This, after all, is the ultimate goal of all we might call ministry: producing caring and compassionate saints that will be fruitful in the harvest.
A Just Weight And Balance
In summing up what we have discussed in this chapter, let us list eight points in considering a balanced ministry:
- It should be balanced knowing that there will always be enough resources for the present needs, some being given more than others, but all contributing to the same eternal purpose.
- Ministry starts with a willing mind and is balanced in knowing that we can only give what we have been given.
- The seed is given both to sow and to use for bread. A careful balance must be maintained between what we give to others and what is used for sustaining ourselves.
- A balanced church consists of balanced leaders and balanced saints.
- Leaders must be careful to balance the vision being cast with the capacity of the followers to receive it.
- While rejoicing in the gifts and talents given, we must be mindful that while there are diversities of gifts, there is but one Spirit. While there are differences of administrations, there is but one Lord. And while there are diversities of operations, there is but one God working in them all. None is more important than the other.
- We must balance the strengths and weaknesses in our leadership by seeking help from other leaders.
- We must balance how much we know with how much we love.
Proverbs 16:11 teaches, “A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work.” It is God’s will that the ministry provided in and through the Church be a balanced one. The key lies in allowing Him to direct the work: in His way, in His timing, and by His strength.
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