As a full-time minister in the church, it is my desire to see out my days faithfully serving the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27). I want to be remembered by future generations for having longevity in ministry and running the race set before me with perseverance until my final days (2 Timothy 4:7). However as we saw in Part I of the Keys To Surviving In Ministry series, that just because someone starts strong in ministry, it doesn't necessarily correlate to finishing strong. 

 

In order to finish what you start in ministry, it's important to recognize that this race is best compared to a marathon, not a sprint. It is completed over a long period of time through many hills and valleys. Any marathon runner will tell you that to complete your race you need to have endurance, consistent rhythm, motivation, physical strength and well-being, mental toughness, an understanding of your opposition, and have a solid race strategy. And being a minister of Jesus Christ requires all of these attributes and more!

 

To complete your race you need to have endurance, consistent rhythm, motivation, physical strength and well-being, mental toughness, an understanding of your opposition, and have a solid race strategy.

 

So far in Parts I and II of this series we looked at eight steps of a twelve part strategy that God gives His priests in Leviticus 8 for longevity in ministry and following Jesus Christ. (If you haven't read up on the previous messages in the series, take a moment to go back and read them now to be caught up.) Our Leviticus 8 passage is set in the midst of God speaking to Aaron and his sons during their ordination ceremony as they start their priestly ministry at the Tabernacle. And it's into this cultural context that we dive into the final of three studies on the topic.

 

So without any further ado, let's look at the final four of twelve principles and challenges that God gives His ministers. 

 

9. As ministers, we are to give a special offering to the Lord and give honor to their leader

 “He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and he lifted these gifts as a special offering to the Lord.  Then Moses took the breast and lifted it up as a special offering to the Lord. This was Moses’ portion of the ram of ordination, just as the Lord had commanded him.”

- Lev 8:27, 29 (NLT)

 

As part of this special ordination ceremony, Aaron and his sons were to sacrifice and lift up a special offering to the Lord. This offering was very specific in its instruction and how the priests were to give this gift to the Lord. Moses, as the leader of the people, was given a special portion of this particular offering and he too was to lift up an offering to honor the Lord. I'm sure it could have been easy for the priests to claim as their own the portion of the offering that was designated to their leader.

 

We are called as ministers and leaders of God's people to give special honor and gifts that might not asked of by other people - particularly those who we are called to minister to. It can be easy to complain and whine if we compare the amount that is expected to be given between a leader and their followers. In Luke 12:48 we see that, “To him much is given, much is required.” We have been blessed with such an incredible opportunity in being asked to serve our Lord and serve His people. To me it makes sense that we need to give to the Lord something special to honor the special privilege He has given to us to lead His people. Giving something to the Lord that we prize and treasure shows how much we value Him above all else.

 

Don't compare what the Lord has asked you to give to what the Lord has asked another to give!

 

God will call us to give and sacrifice differently to those who we minister to. To survive in ministry we must be ready to say “yes” when He asks us, and learn not to compare to others what He has specifically called us to give to Him.

 

What has God asked you to lift up before Him as a gift? What are you dedicating to Him that is special – something that only you know is a sign that God has your heart above everything else? What are some gifts you give to the Lord that you are comparing to what someone else gives?

 

 

10. As ministers, we have to be prepared to get messy

“Next Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar, and he sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. In this way, he made Aaron and his sons and their garments holy.”

- Lev 8:30 (NLT)

 

The next step of this ordination was to splash blood and oil onto the clothes of the priests. Blood and oil splashing on your clothes sounds messy! These clothes are specially-made fine fabrics and rare gem-encrusted clothing that the priests are wearing. And yet all this bling and splendor meant nothing to God if it didn’t get messy with blood and oil. Blood to symbolize a sacrifice, and oil to symbolize the Holy Spirit. Now these fine fabrics would be forever stained and will never come out when washed - a permanent reminder to the wearer of the calling to sacrifice their life to the leading of the Holy Spirit for God's work. It is these messy stains that purify and make the priests holy.

 

Wearing clothes stained with blood reminds the owner to live a life of sacrifice before God. Wearing clothes stained with oil reminds the owner to live a life empowered by the Spirit.

 

We are in the business of seeing eternities changed and lives transformed. To do that we need to incorporate the cleansing blood of Christ and the anointing of the Spirit in all that we do in our ministry. If we just look good in what we do, it means nothing to God. We can look prim, proper and clean on the outside and yet have nothing holy or divine to offer those we are ministering to. As ministers we can put on a world-class production using our band, lights, media, sound system and well-structured service order.... but if we don’t have the blood of Christ and the oil of the Spirit on us as we minister in the service then all we have done is put on a cool show. We must be prepared to get a little messy to lead people to Christ. 

 

As ministers this might mean that sometimes in ministry we have to get a little messy – and that’s ok.

As ministers this might mean that sometimes ministry mightn’t look as good as we had envisioned – and that’s ok.

As ministers this might mean that sometimes ministry might get a little chaotic – and that’s ok.

And as ministers this might mean that sometimes ministry might mean that things close to us get stained – and that’s ok.

 

The ministry we do becomes holy when it gets covered in the oil and blood. If we are to survive in ministry we need to understand that our ministry is not holy because we wear it or organize it or pray for it. Ministry becomes holy when the oil and blood stain it and it gets a little messy.

 

What are you doing in your ministry that is currently unstained? What part of your ministry are you scared to let God take charge of in case it gets messed up? What needs to be covered in blood and oil that will draw people to a greater relationship with Christ as a result?

 

 

11. As ministers, we are to wait for the process to be completed

“You must not leave the Tabernacle entrance for seven days, for that is when the ordination ceremony will be completed. Everything we have done today was commanded by the Lord in order to purify you, making you right with him. Now stay at the entrance of the Tabernacle day and night for seven days, and do everything the Lord requires.”

- Lev 8:33-34 (NLT)

 

The completion of the priestly ordination process sees the priests remaining at the Tabernacle for seven days. A whole week staying at the entrance of the Tabernacle – eating, sleeping, talking, ministering – all in the presence of God and all as part of the purification process. The priests needed to become familiar with the Tabernacle inside and out, knowing every square foot like the back of their hand. This place would become their home for the remainder of their lives.The priests had a special opportunity to grow up in the presence of God!

 

They also needed to ensure that they did not short-circuit the process of purification God was taking them through. The priests were commanded to stay in the Tabernacle entrance for seven days and nights. For if they didn’t, they would not become purified before the Lord. God wanted His priests to fulfill the process He had given them so they were fully qualified to minister to His people. If God wanted His ministers to take time to complete the process back then, then He still wants us to take time for the process to be completed in our lives today. How often do we try to skip out early on the process of purification God wants to take us on? We can be so impatient with God when we compare His methodology to the way our culture operates! We want to jump ahead to the end goal and short-track the process.

 

When we try to minister in an area or in a way before we are ready, it’s likely that our character won’t be able to sustain the challenge we face. There needs to be patience and dependency placed upon the Lord stemming from the confidence that we are never late for the appointment He has arranged for us. The moment we jump ahead is the moment we won’t have all that we need to complete the good works He has planned for us when He had planned them for us.

 

We are never late for an appointment that God has arranged for us! Don't rush to get there early.

 

If we are to survive in ministry, we need to identify the areas in our life where we short-circuit the process God is trying to complete in us. Ask the Lord for discernment to know what is His prompting and what is the sources of our impatience. Be deliberate to wait upon the Lord and look for opportunities to grow in whatever season you are in. It is not our job to fix everything and fast-track the system – God will bring about His purposes in His timing – we don’t need to force it to happen.

 

What process is God taking you through right now? What is God doing in your midst….where is He currently working? What are the things you are trying to jump ahead on because you are bored, tired, impatient or scared?

 

 

12. As ministers, we are released to minister by a leader who obediently took them through the entire process

“So Moses followed the Lord’s instructions, and the whole community assembled at the Tabernacle entrance.  Moses announced to them, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded us to do!’” 

- Lev 8:4-5 (NLT)

“So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord had commanded through Moses.”

- Lev 8:36 (NLT)

 

Aaron and his sons were only able to fulfill the calling on their life and complete their ministry because they had a leader who took the time and energy to see that the entire process was completed as God was directing. The passage says that, "Moses followed the Lord’s instructions" (Lev 8:4) and that "Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord had commanded through Moses." (Lev 8:36). Moses obeyed God and set the example to the leaders to follow what God commanded them to do. Through Moses’ commitment to follow the Lord’s leading, Aaron and his sons were given the example of how they were to minister to God’s people.

 

Moses oversaw the entire ordination process from start to finish – he didn’t pull out early or leave them to figure out what happened at the end. Moses gave them an example, that just as he had followed the Lord, now Aaron and the priests was to follow the Lord too. In the same way shouldn’t we be following the Lord’s instructions and releasing those on our teams into the calling on their life?

 

Are you being a leader who is worth following?

 

As ministers we are called to be the leader who sets the example for those on our teams. Take note that people are watching your every move - all that you do and say. Are you being the leader who is worth following?

 

We also see in this passage the importance of following someone who is faithful to God's call on their own life. As God's ministers, we need to seek out, learn from, and submit to godly leaders who can take us on the journey to complete what God has spoken over our life.

 

If we are to survive in ministry, we need to seeking out and learn from godly leaders who will encourage us to complete the process of leadership development God is taking us on!

 

What are we doing to hear from God to receive direction on behalf of those we oversee? Do we pull out of the process of development too quickly?  Which leaders are you seeking out to follow in their footsteps? Who has God put in your sphere of influence that you can lead through a process of development?

 

 

The dreams and passions that we start with in ministry are things that we won’t end up keeping in our ministry unless we are deliberate to invest in these ministry principles. We want to live like Paul and look back upon our life with satisfaction that we gave it all to Jesus having finished what we started. I pray that these principles and challenges that we see in the examples of the Priestly Ordination in Leviticus 8 will take us on a journey towards surviving in ministry.

 

What keys have you experienced or learned that have helped you survive in ministry?

Published by Jeremy Thiess