Tag Archives: consistency

Team FOCUS: Serving in the Body of Christ

Today’s message of March 5, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

I was planning my monthly meeting the other day at my job with my team of collectors and assistants, and I stumbled on something to use within the meeting that I thought was quite meaningful.

To give a quick review, I now have a team of ten people, eight collectors and two admins, that report to me.  Part of my responsibility is to rally the troops and encourage them to work well as individuals, and also to work as a team for a common goal.  This is important because each of us are evaluated every year with team performance goals, and they have a significant impact as to our overall departmental productivity.

I came up with a way to define our collections group with a name, and I called it “Team FOCUS,” with the word “focus” featured in all capital letters.  If you know anything about company meetings, some of the people in the meeting are sincerely looking at you and listening, and some are looking down at the table, and some may even be doodling on their legal pad; nevertheless, the phrase “Team FOCUS” seemed to be well received.  I reminded everyone that, as a team member, each person is to focus on what tasks need to be done and to assist the other team members in order to achieve their goals for the year.

As I was planning this out, it occurred to me that there is application for this same type of focus within the church, and on an even grander scale, the body of Christ.  As Jesus calls upon His people to reflect His IMAGE in a Christlike manner, we are also to support each other and live amongst one another in peace, and often that means working well together as a team for a common goal.  In this effort, the most important goal is that Jesus Christ is glorified.

In other words, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need to be humble before Him and live in obedience, and also be humble in the effort of working with other people within the body of Christ.

Oh, if it was all that simple to do.

The reality is that some of us just don’t play well with others.  Many of you certainly remember growing up with a group of friends that you enjoyed hanging out with, while there were others you tried to avoid because they either made fun of you or just didn’t like you.  That may be kids stuff, but adults seem to have refined this approach to become a special talent.

Look, we all have our favorites…our favorite people to hang around. But Christ calls us to do more than just hang out with our favorite people.  We are challenged to do more…go further.  It is another way that He sanctifies us within our relationship with Him.  The one who seeks Jesus Christ will find himself stretched and molded into someone that he never thought could happen, and that it would be a great thing!  God wants to bring you to a place where you are willing to do even more for Him as you step out in faith.

Note that this discussion is about working well within the body of Christ. Let’s be honest. If you can’t play well with others within the body, how in the world will you ever be the best you can be in discipling others in the body and in reaching people for Jesus Christ who are not saved?

And isn’t that exactly what this thing about discipleship is all about?  You can’t pick and choose your favorite people for this stuff.  If Christ sends someone into your path, are you willing to walk the path with that person, or will you back down and take another road?  Some will trust in Christ’s direction, while others will move in a different direction.  I challenge you to consider that following God’s direction is a much more meaningful path to take.

In order to be successful in Christ, you need to resist your own desires in the flesh and be humble, teachable and trainable in His ways.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Jesus Christ is looking for the ones who are willing to remain faithful and obedient to Him, and He responds, in kind, with the guidance that you will need to maintain the focus that we are to have in our service for Him.

Proverbs 3:1-6 HCSB

My son, don’t forget my teaching,

but let your heart keep my commands;

for they will bring you

many days, a full life, and well-being.

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.

Tie them around your neck;

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will find favor and high regard

in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

In order to execute effectively this team FOCUS, we need to bring our own talents to the table.  God gives each of us a measure of talents and abilities that are available to support and edify each other within the body of Jesus Christ.  Each of us, in addition to these talents, brings a very unique trait…your own personality!  Of the ten different people who report to me at work, I believe I have seven or eight different personalities within the group!  Most of them work very hard…some harder than others, but ultimately at acceptable levels, and each person injects his or her personality into what they bring to the workplace.  God created you to be who you are, of course, and to share who you are within the body of Christ with your own uniqueness!

These individual traits make up your FOCUS within the team effort:

The “F” stands for fair-mindedness.

If you look up fair-minded in the American Heritage Dictionary, it is defined as “just and impartial; not prejudiced.” Your approach is to always project honesty and impartiality in everything that you take on.  When it comes to working with a group or a team, this can be easier said than done.  It can be easy to play favorites, be judgmental, or pick people to work with or witness to that seem friendly.  Christ calls for his people to have integrity and not only work with those who may not stand out as appealing, but also reach out to those who may even respond with hostility.  The key is to be responsive to the Holy Spirit in our movement throughout the body of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Proverbs 28:6 ESV

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Colossians 3:23-24 HCSB

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

The “O” stands for organization.

While organization is often a guideline for business professionals, it is helpful for believers to carry out their service for Jesus Christ, both as individuals and within a group, in a formal, deliberate manner.  I’m all for spontaneity and being ready to move when the Spirit tells you to move, but having a plan for your life and striving to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ requires having a daily schedule of bible reading and prayer.  The events of life will require some degree of flexibility, and plans will most definitely change, but your Christlike life of planning and organization provides you with a baseline and guideline for effective ministry.

Proverbs 16:3 ESV

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

In order for you to experience success in the Lord, you will also need to live for Christ in the body with consistency.

The “C” stands for consistency.

Your life in Jesus Christ every day will have its opportunities.  There will be victories, and you will also experience setbacks.  There will be praises to God from His blessings along with prayers to Him for mercy and comfort.  A consistent life in Christ, in His service, is a persistent life of faith, forgiveness, repentance and reverence.  In your consistent approach of looking to Jesus, the Holy Spirit provides wisdom, knowledge and understanding as He sanctifies you with His presence.  You will experience greater successes when you stay the course and remain consistently faithful in Jesus Christ.  Your desire to live for Christ will be acknowledged with blessings and testimonies that will glorify Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The “U” stands for unity…being unified in your efforts.

Work within the body of Christ is the epitome of effective teamwork, especially when the members give a testimony that gives God the glory.  It is not about just the efforts of the individual.  It is about your service for the team, the group, the church.  It is for the testimony of God at work within you and the group.  Jesus is the reason why you do what you are doing.

Philippians 2:1-4 HCSB

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

The “S” stands for skilled.

You bring your skills that you have acquired over a lifetime, even perhaps as an expert in whatever field you are in, and they lend to a very good end-product with your contributions.  Your God-given talents and gifts, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are provided for you to be successful in your ministry of Jesus Christ.  God wants people to serve Him in wisdom and knowledge with His talents and gifts to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ.

Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,

use it according to the standard of one’s faith;

if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Of course, this is far from an all inclusive list of gifts.  There are many examples of people in the Bible who have different professions or trades, and God will use all of these things to accomplish His glory and His purpose.  He wants you to use your skills in ministry in order to reach people for Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Your FOCUS today is to be a better team member in service for Jesus Christ.  It begins with your desire to do more in Jesus Christ and to be open to many exciting opportunities as you work within the body of Christ to reach the lost.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

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A Ministry of Presence

A message of November 20, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

My journey to grow further in my personal relationship in Jesus Christ began in earnest just over three years ago when I searched for colleges in pursuit of a Master’s Degree. Once I discovered what I believe is my purpose in the kingdom for Jesus Christ, it has been my desire to pursue what I believed would be the best course for my life.

I was thrilled to share my thoughts with my lovely wife three years ago. She admittedly looked at me with concern about this pursuit. She knew what such a commitment meant, and that there would be moments where I would be in seclusion. It would be tough for me, and sometimes it would be tough for the both of us. The schedule meant that I would be giving up Saturdays for many weeks, and two of our annual vacations in February involved me writing papers for classes. After it was all done this year, I was very, very happy to finish. I never doubted that I would finish, but I also note that it was just the beginning for me.

Once you make a commitment to some sort of ministry, you make a commitment to live your life in service for Jesus Christ. This commitment to Christ is a serious, life-changing step, and when you know what that means, you go after it with gusto.

My next life-growth step involves my study for a unit of clinical pastoral education, which is basically learning how to become a chaplain. There is a lot that I am learning about the profession, and in turn, there is a lot that I am learning about myself. It is not a coincidence, by the way, that we are studying personal spiritual growth in Sunday school each week. Once you learn your purpose, the Holy Spirit will enable you and also pave the way for you to be the best person that you can be in service for Jesus Christ.

In order to be the best person you can be for Jesus Christ, there are some things that are understood for the dedicated believer…faith and trust in Christ, obedience to His Word, and dedication to live a consistent life for Him.

  • Faith and trust

Hebrews 11:6 HCSB

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

  • Obedience

Joshua 1:8-9 ESV

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 HCSB

When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.

  • A life of consistency

1 Corinthians 15:58 HCSB

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Galatians 6:9 HCSB

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

Being the best person for Jesus Christ means looking at these verses and all of Scripture to learn what it is to be a model citizen.  It is your active ministry within both the body of Christ and in your daily travels as a light for Jesus Christ in the world.

Our focus today is on ministry and the development of relationships.  Discipleship, or one-on-one instruction, mentoring and accountability has a starting point, and it involves making and building relationships with others.

You can’t develop a relationship with someone by merely sending a friend request on Facebook.  You can’t do it by using Snap or taking selfies on Instagram.  A real relationship starts and continues with a physical presence—one-on-one.  It is what we will refer to today as a ministry of presence.

Consider how a person, such as a shut-in, or a person who doesn’t receive a lot of company, feels when someone comes by to see how things are going.  It shows your care and concern for a person just by showing up.  Ministry begins when you step out of your zone and reach out to others.  Look at how much you appreciate God’s presence in your life:

Psalm 16:11 ESV

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In a ministry of presence, there are five “BE” statements that apply in relationship development:

  1. Be approachable

Approachability is important in that it defines you as a distinct child of God and as a light in the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 HCSB

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

  1. Be available

Showing yourself as available means that there is nothing that is hindering a visit or your conversation.  You show yourself as genuine when you give your undivided attention to the person.

Jesus wants you to be available to minister to others.  It has nothing to do with your timing or your convenience.  You may live in the Eastern time zone and set your watch accordingly, but effective ministry is calibrated on God’s timing.

Isaiah 6:8 KJV

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

  1. Be patient

This follows being available. There are times when a person that is sharing with you needs to share to get something out or get it off of their chest. There may be a buildup of anger or frustration that needs to come out, and it may take some time.  When you are ministering to someone, it would be rude to put the other person on a time limit or give signals that they are running out of time.  When these moments occur, please consider how patient the Lord has been with you.

Ephesians 4:1-3 HCSB

Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

James 1:19 ESV

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  1. Be loving

If you look around, it’s hard at times to find love in the world. If it is so hard for us to see it, then it is up to us to provide it.  Be loving to those who you minister to.

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

1 Corinthians 13:4a

Love is patient and kind.

  1. Just be

This is in line with your act of love.  A ministry of presence means that you should “just be.”  Sometimes the best thing that you can do in ministry is to just listen…just listen to what the other person is saying.  Hearts may be broken and hurts may need to be expressed.  Your words, in response, may be unnecessary or inadequate depending upon the moment.  Being a presence involves care, comfort, and helping someone to see that he or she is not alone.  Just be who you are.

A ministry of presence involves these five “BE” statements:

Be approachable.

Be available.

Be patient.

Be loving.

Just be.

This can be the jump start for your ministry.  Even if you don’t know all of the answers or you’re still learning in your own relationship with Jesus Christ, you can do all of these things as you learn more about serving Him in discipleship.  It means coming out of your comfort zone in faith, obedience and living with consistency for Jesus Christ.  You can do it.

Jesus Christ wants you to live and love others with a ministry of presence.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines