Today I want to discuss the importance of prioritizing character before ministry. In other words, learning how to walk before you run. I see so many young Christians my age constantly asking, “how do I know what God is calling me to do?” They want to know so desperately what kind of ministry they should go into. But few, if any, ask the Lord how to build their character.
Would we send a soldier into battle without any training? Would we hire someone to teach who had not first been taught? That wouldn’t be very wise, would it? Likewise, if we want to minister for God, first we need to be trained and taught by Him.
I have been a Christian for about 12 years now. I became a believer and was baptized when I was 13 years old. I have grown so much over the past decade, but I’ve got to be honest; a majority of my spiritual growth as a Christian has taken place during the past 2 years or so. Why? It is because God has been developing my character. I had learned a lot of things about God, especially in Bible college. But, I had failed to devote myself to actually living and looking more like Jesus. I wasn’t really talking with Him; I was talking about Him. I wasn’t so much concerned about ministering to Him (Matthew 25:40); I was more concerned about calling myself a minister for Him. Holiness was what I preached, but it wasn’t necessarily what I practiced. It is funny how mature an immature Christian believes himself to be.
To fast forward to now, God has been showing me what it means to put Him first. Ministry is so important, but it will not last forever. However, my relationship with Jesus will. Furthermore, our ministries are only as genuine as our characters are. I have seen ministers who failed morally, and years and years of ministry went down in flames in an instant. If you want a long-lasting, fruitful ministry, you have to be committed to walking with God in public and in private.
You also need to be patient. Don’t dive headlong into ministry before it is time. You will drown from all of the worries and hardships that come along with it. Learn how to dive into God’s Word, to plunge to the never ending depths of its truth. Learn how to pray, brother. Learn how to rest in the Lord, sister. God will use you to bless the nations. He will use you mightily. But, first you’ve got to know His heart and understand His power. Joseph spent many years in prison for a crime he did not commit. It was during this time, when it seemed like God wasn’t doing anything that He was actually doing His greatest work. God was preparing Joseph to become the second-in-command of all of Egypt. He was making Joseph into a man of god. It took time; the process did not happen over night. But, when the appointed time came for Joseph to minister to Pharaoh…everything changed in an instant.