BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Depending on the size, a church has different departments where church members can work, either as volunteers or paid staff. The church cannot be run by the pastor (or pastors) alone – he can only provide leadership and focus on the ministry of the Word and prayer as Peter said while emphasizing the need to appoint deacons. “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3-4 New King James Version).
These other areas of service in the church, which help the pastor to discharge his primary responsibilities of prayer and the ministry of the Word, are often referred to as “helps ministry.” The ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11) is regarded as the pulpit ministry, and they are also church workers. However, the church workers in the context of this message are those in the helps ministry.
The church does not just need workers to help the pulpit ministry, she requires effective workers. A dictionary defines “effective” as “adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result” (Dictionary.com). Another dictionary defines “effective” as “successful in producing a desired or intended result” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). So the church needs workers with the capacity to produce a desired or intended result. Sometimes these workers will come forward themselves, and sometimes the pastor will have to invite them to work in specific areas in the church as divinely led like Jesus did when he invited the twelve disciples.
The pastor’s major responsibility
The first thing a church leader should do, before choosing his workers or stewards, is to do what Jesus did, and that is to pray. Getting rid of a worker, especially a volunteer, after he has been appointed may sometimes be challenging. If not properly managed in some cases, it can create some problems, particularly where the person involved gives himself over to the devil to influence others negatively. It is, therefore, important to pray and not to be under the pressure of the need to appoint just anybody.
Luke 6:12-16 says, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor” (New King James Version). After Jesus prayed, He chose twelve disciples and one of them was Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him. Appointing a Judas may, sometimes, be unavoidable because it is possible that Satan will enter into ‘one’ worker in the future, but a pastor cannot afford to have more Judases among his church workers than those sincerely committed to the vision!
Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2 New King James Version). Yes, there is a need for more labourers, but as Jesus said, we must pray that God will send the right labourers. Because it is not everyone who comes forward to serve that is sent by God. It is not everyone who claims to be a church member that is there for or working for the good of the church. First, there are those who are agents of the devil –they are sent to harm the church. For instance, some join the ushering group so that they can be stealing from the collections of the church!
There are others who are opportunities for the devil. It is unlikely that Judas was an agent of the devil sent to the ministry of Jesus purposely to betray Him. It is more likely that he was an opportunity for the devil to use. John 12:6 says he was a thief and had the money box; he used to take what was put in it. Thus, when the devil was looking for someone to use to betray Jesus, Judas was an opportunity waiting to be used. John 13:27 says, “As soon as Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him” (New Living Translation).
After that, Judas went to meet the religious leaders, and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” (Matthew 26:15 New King James Version) The Bible says they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. “So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him” (verse 16).
Judas was an opportunity for the devil to use, and he used him. He was not an enemy of Jesus per se. Jesus prayed about him before He chose him. He was among the disciples that Jesus sent out to preach the gospel giving them the power to cast out evil spirits and heal the sick. “He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matthew 10:1 King James Version). Judas could also have been among the seventy or seventy-two disciples who returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17 New King James Version) – the Bible does not list their names. However, later, Satan entered into him. He became a turncoat. That was why when he realized that Jesus was going to be crucified, he returned the money he had collected from Jesus’ real enemies, which they rejected. Eventually, he went to commit suicide.
If he had wanted to really get Jesus killed, it is unlikely that he would have gone to commit suicide (Matthew 27:3-5). The real enemies of Jesus did not commit suicide because they felt fulfilled after getting rid of their enemy, Jesus. But I am not saying that Judas is innocent. No, he is as guilty as others who had a hand in the shedding of the blood of the innocent, Jesus. Even Judas himself confessed, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew27:4 New King James Version).
Every steward, worker, disciple, or follower must be careful not to make himself available as an instrument for Satan to use. Every leader must pray before selecting or appointing those to work with him, but more importantly, he must continue to pray for them so that Satan will not enter into them. Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32 New King James Version).
It was the prayer of Jesus that saved Peter after he had denied Jesus and though he returned to his fishing business thereafter, Jesus went after him and reinstated him. Jesus did not pray for Judas because the Son of man must be betrayed – that does not absolve Judas of guilt. “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24 New King James Version).
In appointing workers, a leader cannot afford to work by sight. Prophet Samuel almost missed it. He would have anointed the wrong persons as king in the house of Jesse. However, God rejected the seven sons of Jesse in attendance (1 Samuel 16:6-10). Eventually, all in attendance including Prophet Samuel had to stand up waiting for David, the man after God’s heart who Samuel anointed king.
Church leaders need to pray against PUREs – Previously Undetected Recruiting Errors, especially major ones, which can affect the church – and especially regarding key positions. In addition to prayer, it is necessary to interview prospective workers, investigate their past, observe and test them, etc.
Effective workers’ qualities
The following qualities are important for those who will be effective workers in the house of God, but that does not mean that all must be possessed before any Christian should come forward to work or be allowed to work in the house of God:
1.Be born again: Before anyone should be allowed to be a worker in church or be appointed into any leadership position, he must be born again. The number one assignment of the church is the salvation of sinners, and those in the workforce of the church must themselves be saved. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3 New King James Version).
Because a newly born-again person does not know much about the faith, it is important that he is not assigned work in the church until he has successfully completed the new believer’s or foundational class and the membership/discipleship class. This is important because the salvation of his soul is more important than the work he wants to do. He must, therefore, be properly established in the faith and fully integrated into the church before he is given responsibilities.
Little or nothing is known about a new convert and hurriedly enlisting him in the church workforce may not be a wise decision, but by the time he completes these classes, the church should be able to have sufficient information about him to allow him to become a church worker. As new believers eventually join the workforce, they must also continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling i-e put into action God’s saving work in their lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear (Philippians 2:12).
2. Intimacy with God. Mark 3:14-15 says, “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (New King James Version). Jesus appointed the twelve disciples first to be with Him, not first to go and preach. The quality of anyone’s service in the Kingdom of God will be dependent on his or her intimacy with God in prayer, the study of the word, meditation, and worship.
Many will say that they can understand that this quality is necessary for those who minister the Word of God – they need to spend time with God. Yes, it is an important quality they must possess. This is not restricted to them. It affects every church worker, whether he is a Sunday school teacher, children church worker, choir member, prayer band member, technician or sanitation worker. Every church worker needs intimacy with God – a time of fellowship including worship, prayer, and Bible study. Every work in the church is spiritual; none must be done in the flesh. Being a church worker should not replace intimacy with God.
3. A good grasp or understanding of Bible teachings. Just as I said about intimacy with God, this quality is important in the life of every church worker. “Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 New Living Translation).
Having a good grasp or understanding of Bible teachings is not for those who minister the Word of God alone. It is for every Christian. This quality is important because it determines the quality of the work of a child of God. The word of God, for example, tells Christians how God wants them to work, the type of service God accepts, the reward for service, etc. A Christian’s work should be influenced by the teachings of the Bible – he does not have to be an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, or a pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11).
That is why, in addition to attending Bible study sessions and listening to messages during services, Christians should personally study the Bible daily. They should be like the Berean Christians, who received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether the things they were taught were so (Acts 17:11). This will enrich their spiritual life and refresh them as they serve in the Kingdom of God.
Every church worker, including the choristers, ushers, traffic controllers, etc., should be attentive wherever they are during the sermons (messages) or Bible study sessions. In fact, I believe no other church group meeting should be going on at the same time either of these is going on. It is true that 1Timothy 3:2 says a bishop, elder or pastor should, among other things, be able to teach. In other words, he must be knowledgeable about the teachings of the Bible. The Message says, “He must know what he’s talking about.” (1Timothy 3:2). However, it is also important that other church workers should not be Bible illiterate. “You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk” (1 Peter 2:2 New Living Translation).
4. Be full of the Spirit and wisdom. In appointing the first deacons in the early church, Peter stated the qualifications they must possess. Part of the requirements was that they must be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3 New King James Version). The next quality I will discuss will focus on the first part of the requirements in this scripture, but I want to deal first with the second part.
These seven deacons were not even going to be teaching the Word of God or engaging in pulpit ministry, yet they were required to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Their job was just to administer the daily distribution of food – a job many today will consider as not spiritual. However, every work in the house of God is spiritual and must be done with the help of the Holy Spirit and in the wisdom of God. It must not be done in the flesh.
Two of these “table servers” – deacons – were Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip (Acts 6:5). However, verse 8 says, “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (New King James Version). Stephen, a deacon, became an evangelist and the first Christian martyr. Phillip, originally a deacon also became an evangelist, went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ with multitudes giving heed in one accord to what he spoke and seeing the signs he did (Acts 8:5-6). From Samaria, Phillip was led to the desert where he preached the gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch and baptized him (Acts 8:26-38). Deacons are supposed to be spiritual.
In choosing leaders over the tribes of Israel, Moses told the people to choose the wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among the tribes to be made heads over them (Deuteronomy 1:13). Verse 15 says Moses chose these wise and knowledgeable men and made them heads over the Israelites as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens, and officers for the tribes. Old age was not a factor.
Joshua, Moses’ successor, needed the spirit of wisdom to be able to excel in his assignment. Deuteronomy 34:9 said, “Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses” (New King James Version).
It is not that prospective workers or leaders in the house of God can possess all in terms of the Spirit of God and wisdom before they enter into service, but they must be full of the Spirit of God and wisdom. They will always need more as they serve. They must therefore continue to be filled with the Spirit and wisdom after entering service in the Kingdom.
5. Good character and reputation. D. L Moody is quoted as saying, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” As we saw in Acts 6:3, the seven deacons were required to have a good reputation. Nobody is an angel – no one can boast of sinless perfection – but someone with a bad reputation is a liability to the work of the Kingdom. Here, the emphasis is not on the past life of the prospective worker, because he that is in Christ is a new creature, old things have passed away; all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). What is important is his new life in Christ. Does he have good character? What do others say about him?
Looking at the qualifications for deacons, which Paul listed out for the church later, we see that they have to do more with the character and reputation of those to be appointed. Their character must be tested. “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:8-13 New King James Version).
Good character and reputation cannot be sacrificed on the altar of spiritual gifts, abilities, and talents or the need of the church. It is always important. Even in the appointment of elders or bishops, most of the requirements have to do with this (1 Timothy 3:1-6). Verse 2 specifically says they must “have a good reputation” (New Living Translation). Titus 1:5-9 gives a similar list of requirements for appointing elders or bishops, most of which have to do with character. I believe these requirements should also be in a guide in appointing or deciding on church workers. A church should guide against having workers or leaders who will bring reproach to her.
Unfortunately, there are church workers and leaders like that today who, by their lives, make outsiders, including non-believers, wonder if the church has any standard at all. Such are bad advertisers of their churches spoiling the image. Like the Bible says about David in the case of adultery with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband, Uriah, these workers, by their deeds, give a great opportunity to the enemies of the LORD to despise and blaspheme Him (2 Samuel 12:14). Such workers are unhelpful in advancing the Kingdom of God.
6. A life of purity. God is a holy God. “You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own” (Leviticus 20:26 New Living Translation). Those who will serve in His house must live a holy life if they are going to be effective. God can use anybody, but he must live a life of purity once he comes to Him. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 says, “In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (New Living Translation).
The Bible says the body of a child of God is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in him; he does not own his body. He has been bought at a price and therefore should glorify God in his body and spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He must sanctify himself. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2 New King James Version).
The purity is not like the purity of the Pharisees, which was just external, but purity that flows from the inside and affects the outside. The Pharisees were like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity (Matthew 23:27-28). There must be complete purity both inside and outside. “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete purity because we fear God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 New Living Translation). This Scripture talks of cleansing from everything that can defile the body or the spirit. Neither the body nor the spirit must be defiled.
Paul told Timothy to be an example to all believers in what he taught, in the way he lived, and in his love, faith, and PURITY (1 Timothy 4:12). Christians must obey the commands of Jesus with all PURITY (1 Timothy 6:14). Any Christian who will be an effective worker must keep himself pure, and God will use him for his purpose. However, I need to say that the believer must depend on the Holy Spirit for this to be possible. The purity God demands cannot be accomplished by natural efforts.
7. Faithfulness. To be faithful means to be dependable, loyal, trustworthy and stable. Faithfulness is an essential quality for anyone to be an effective worker or leader in the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (New King James Version).
Paul enjoined Timothy, his son in the ministry: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 New King James Version). The New Living Translation uses the word “trustworthy” instead of faithful.
A church worker or leader must be faithful to God and his pastor, leader, head of the department, etc. He must be faithful in using his God-given gifts and talents. God testified about Moses that he was faithful in all His house (Numbers12:7). Verses 2 and 5 of Hebrews 3 echo the same testimony. Jesus was also faithful as a Son over His own house (verse 6).
The Bible says Daniel, as governor in Babylon, was faithful and no error or fault was found in him (Daniel 6:4). Paul described Timothy as his beloved and faithful son in the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:17). What will be the testimony concerning you as a worker in the house of God?
Faithful people receive promotions, and they remain relevant. In Luke 19, two out of the ten servants their master gave one mina each, earned ten minas and five minas each. He gave them authority over ten cities and five cities, respectively. However, it was only the servant who earned ten minas who was told, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little…” (Luke 19:17 New King James Version). He received, in addition, the ten minas collected back from the servant who had hidden his minas (verse 24). The master only told the servant, who made earned five minas, “You also be over five cities” (verse 19 New King James Version).
8. Availability. To be effective, a worker must be available to serve. “Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Lord, I’ll go! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8 New Living Translation). Service cannot be done without investing time – workers need time to pray, clean the church, control traffic, usher, evangelize, etc. Anyone who intends to serve must be ready to create time for it. There is an opportunity cost involved. That is not to say that such a person should not be entitled to permission to attend to other important personal issues or be given time off if he is on duty in his paid employment – there will be somebody else assigned ahead of time to stand in for such a worker.
There is no point going about with a title without performing the duties attached to the office. There are many people in the church who do this. They like to be called by their titles, but fail to perform the corresponding responsibilities.
No leader should appoint into an office someone who cannot create time for the duties of the office no matter how attractive the other qualities the person possesses otherwise the job will suffer, and this will affect the church or ministry. A pastor should avoid sentiments when it comes to the issue of appointing workers. He should consider for appointment only members known to have time and the willingness to serve.
In Exodus 18:24-26, the Bible says, “Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and made them judges over the people. They were put in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were constantly available to administer justice” (New Living Translation). It is one thing to be capable and another thing to be available. In that scripture, please take note that the Bible says Moses appointed capable men whom he gave assignments and “were constantly available to administer justice.” Constantly available! Imagine that people brought cases to them, however, though they were capable, they were not available; they were busy elsewhere. They were both capable and constantly available.
Availability means that a worker is at his duty post at the time he is required to be there. It is frustrating for a pastor or church leader to have workers that he is not sure would be there at the expected time, even though there could be some exceptional cases. That means they are not reliable or dependable. That means there will be a disappointment and the leader will have to be improvising or be making alternative arrangements. This is not the best.
I need to point out that the reason some people give, in some churches for not coming forward to serve, is that the church activities take too much of their time such that other departments of their lives suffer. They do not have enough time for their families, enough time to invest in their career, enough time for their academics including part-time studies, enough time for their businesses, etc. One major reason for this is that usually, 20 percent of the members of the church are doing 80 percent of the work in line with the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule. The 20 percent are overburdened. The 80/20 percentage does not have to be exactly that –mathematically.
Quality Management pioneer, Dr. Joseph Juran, an American Electrical Engineer, introduced the Pareto principle naming it after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian Economist, who in 1906 created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in Italy. He observed that 20 percent of the population owned 80 percent of the country’s land
Dr. Juran, in the 1940s, published an important discovery, the universal phenomenon he called “the vital few and the trivial many” and named it “Pareto Principle.” Basically, what the Pareto Principle means is that the majority of the outputs come from a minority of the inputs. Applied to the church, it means that a few (20 percent) of church members are vital while many (80 percent) are trivial. Church members either belong to the vital few (20 percent) or the trivial many (80 percent). In other words, 80 percent of the output of the church comes from 20 percent of the members.
Maybe some of the 80 percent idle in the church are shying away from service because they fear the church will take too much of their time or they are not Kingdom-minded. This scenario must change. Pastors should be mindful not to keep their workers, especially volunteers, too busy to the detriment of their families, businesses, academics, careers, personal development programmes, etc. I have heard that complaint a lot – we are too busy in the church that is why…
There have been cases where workers – paid and volunteers – resigned in frustration because they claimed the church work was having a negative impact on them. The more they were busy with church activities, the more they were dying spiritually! There are many who have not resigned, but are just doing the work grudgingly – they are disgruntled. That is not right – God’s work must be done cheerfully; it is not slave labour. God loves a cheerful giver of money, time or other things (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is better not to serve at all than to serve grudgingly. There is no reward for that. God rewards faithful workers amazingly. We must serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2a), not with grumblings.
It is very important for pastors or Church leaders to be sensitive to the fact that church life is not the only department in their members’ lives so they should understand the need for church workers to maintain balance. It is not the devil or persecution if a church worker is sacked in his place of work for neglecting his work or for declining productivity because of his commitments in the church. That itself is not a good testimony of his Christianity. He must give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God! I agree with Daniel Webster (1782-1852) that “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.” Good Christians will invariably be good citizens. A good Christian should have the reputation of being a good staff, if not the best, in his office.
Yes, Kingdom work calls for sacrifice, but a church worker should create time for his spouse and children. If they ask for his attention at home, he should not be quick to accuse them of being used by the devil to hinder him or her from serving God. Almost always, that is not true. The work of God must be done, but other equally important departments must not suffer. Balance is the watchword.
The church must build the home and not tear it down. The church must contribute to the career advancement, academic progression, etc. of its members and should not become the reason for anyone’s failure. Availability for church work does not mean a man or woman must become irresponsible at home, in his paid employment, in school, etc. The church leadership must consistently emphasize this. Zeal without knowledge is dangerous; it will not profit believers. A Christian should serve his employer well and deserve his salary. Ephesians 6:7 says, “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (New Living Translation).
9. Teachability. An effective church worker must have a willingness to learn by listening, observing, and reading. Paul told the Philippians, “Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-beings) will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 The Amplified Bible). Nobody knows everything; everybody should continue to learn. When a worker does not know and he knows he does not know, and he is ready to learn and makes effort to learn, he will improve himself.
Unfortunately, some people are unteachable – they do not know and do not respond to teaching. Any effort to teach and make them improve is a waste. Such people keep on doing the same wrong thing over and over again. They are self-willed and uncooperative. They do things their own way. They do not make corrections. Such workers will not help the church. Paul told Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 New King James Version). That means Timothy must be teachable and the faithful men he was to commit to what he had learnt must also be teachable.
It is one thing to have a good teacher, but another thing to be teachable. The teacher’s work will be a waste if the student is not ready to learn. And nobody will improve in his work who is not ready to learn by listening, observing and reading, and practising what is learnt. Every church worker should seek to improve on his competencies by learning. The church should regularly organize training for her different categories of workers or send them for relevant training based on perceived needs in order to improve their competencies such as training in decoration, music, or protocol. A church worker can equally sponsor his own training in specific areas to improve his effectiveness in the Kingdom service.
10. Relational skills. The ability to work with people is vital to success in any human endeavour. Nobody is an island to himself, so an effective worker must cultivate the ability to get along with people. Competence is not enough; team spirit is essential. An excellent worker who lacks human relations and does not work peaceably with the rest is not an asset because a tree does not make a forest – no single worker can do it all. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 New King James Version).
If a Christian is going to be an effective church worker, he must walk in love toward others. “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Rom 12:9 New Living Translation). An effective worker must learn how to work harmoniously with others, be a good listener, be hospitable, be courteous, show gratitude, and give credit to others. “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8 New King James Version). Relational skills are important and can be learnt.
11. Positive attitudes. Negative attitudes breed more negative attitudes. Negative attitudes are contagious; they are like communicable diseases. A worker with negative attitudes can influence others. Such negative attitudes not good for a worker, especially workers in the church, include insubordination, gossip, grumbling, pessimism, strife, competition, self-centredness, envy, lateness, etc. These negative attitudes are unbecoming of a child of God and will pollute the spiritual atmosphere of a church. Anywhere any negative attitude is noticed, it must be pointed out and corrected otherwise it will spread and others will catch the virus!
Diotrephes was a bad example of a church worker. He had a negative attitude, which Paul pointed out. Paul said, “I sent a brief letter to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, does not acknowledge our authority. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the wicked things he is saying about us. He not only refuses to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church” (3 John 9-10 New Living Translation).
A Christian worker should, among other positive attitudes, have regard for the anointing, complement others rather than compete with them and be obedient, optimistic, punctual, selfless, and cheerful.
12. Right motives. Why does a church member want to be a worker? Is it for selfish interest or to advance the Kingdom of God? The issue of motive in service is very important. People have different motives for wanting to serve. Not all have the right motives. And it is usually not easy to know people’s motives except with the help of the Holy Spirit. Shakespeare says there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. Those with the wrong motive will hardly say it. Paul said, “Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives” (Philippians 1:15 New Living Translation).
Some want to serve to show off, to be relevant, to gain power, and to position themselves close to the leadership. Others want to serve for monetary gain, for fame, and for other vain reasons. Only God can reveal the motives of people. Proverbs 20:27 says, “The LORD’s searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive” (New Living Translation).
After Simon the sorcerer saw that the Holy Spirit was given after Peter had laid hands upon people’s heads, he offered money to buy this power so that anyone he also laid his hands on would receive the Holy Spirit. Just imagine! However, the Bible says Peter replied, “May your money perish with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right before God. Turn from your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitterness and held captive by sin” (Acts 8:20-23 New Living Translation).
This incident revealed the state of the heart of Simon because, before this time, it was said that he had embraced the new faith. Acts 8:13 says, “Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the great miracles and signs Philip performed” (New Living Translation). Was it that he had pretended to be saved? Or was genuinely saved, but he was trying to go back to his past? He was previously a sorcerer.
Peter gave us an insight into Simon’s problem. He said he was full of bitterness and held captive by sin. Who told this sorcerer that the power of God was for sale? Of course, Simon pleaded that Peter would pray for him that the terrible things he had said would not happen to him. There is no record that Peter prayed for him. And there are still some relations of Simon in the church today! These are people who want to buy their way through. They have ulterior motives for wanting to serve. Some of them are like Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab – they have no stake or claim in Zion (Nehemiah 2:19-20).
The prospective worker must examine his motive and be sure that he is not being motivated by the wrong reasons. Even after being appointed, he must continuously ensure that his motive remains right, not corrupted. The leader must also ensure that he prays, as I have said before, so that God will disallow those with wrong and evil motives from joining the Kingdom workforce.
13. Servant-heart. A church worker that will be effective must have a servant’s heart. The only vacancy in the Kingdom of God is for labourers; there is no room for executives! Everybody is a labourer from the General Overseer, General Superintendent, or President to the least worker! “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:37-38 New King James Version). The church of God needs workers for soul winning and workers in every department of the church, and usually, the reality is that existing workers are overworked because the labourers are inadequate.
While we keep praying for the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers, especially for the harvest of souls, it is important to know that only workers with a servant’s heart will be effective. Those with a high mindset will not. Being a church worker is not for show; it is for service. God’s servant, D.L Moody, has been quoted as saying, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.”
Workers with a servant’s heart do not consider any task below them; no work is demeaning. They want to serve because they love Jesus and not necessarily to receive impartation or anointing from the pastor, but such workers are the people God really anoints.
Workers with a servant’s heart do not engage in self-promotion – calling attention to themselves. They do not consider their position or offices in the world (outside the church), as they serve in the house of God. This is the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 New King James Version).
Setting an example for his disciples to follow, Jesus taught them servant leadership. He washed their feet, including the feet of Judas though he knew he was going to betray him. “He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you’” (John 13:12-15 New King James Version).
The road to greatness in the Kingdom of God is not aggressive competition. It is selfless service. Jesus says, “And whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28 New Living Translation).
That is why while advising the elders (pastors) in 1 Peter 5, Peter made it clear that their work of watching over God’s people is something they must do willingly as service to God who will reward them. Their service to the people is service to God. “As a fellow elder, this is my appeal to you: Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example. And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor” (1 Peter 5:1-4 New Living Translation).
God will reward every service that comes willingly from the heart, and that’s how a church worker should work. A pastor may commend and appreciate a worker, but it is only God that can reward him ultimately. Even if a pastor does not commend and appreciate his workers – though he should – the workers should not because of that be discouraged. They should continue to work diligently knowing that they are not serving man but God, the Great Rewarder. “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Ephesians 6:7 New Living Translation). Jesus says, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work” (Revelation 22:12 New King James Version).
14. Ability to endure hardship. The ability to endure hardship is one of the virtues that a church worker must possess and cultivate. Many times, serving in the house of God requires sacrificing your convenience to do the will of God because doing the will of God is superior to enjoying your comfort. Jesus says, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 New King James Version). An effective church worker must learn to say, “Nevertheless not my comfort, but Your will be done.” Unfortunately, not all church workers say that. Some are ready to work as long as their convenience or comfort is not tampered with. The effectiveness of such workers will be limited. I am not saying a church worker must go all out to hurt himself before he can be effective or so that he will be effective. No.
I am saying that in the course of the work, hardship may come, and a worker should not back out because of this. An effective church worker will endure hardship. He will sacrifice his comfort, if need be, to do the work of God. Paul says, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3 New King James Version). In verse 12, he says, “If we endure hardship, we will reign with him” (New Living Translation).
It takes endurance or perseverance for intercessors to stay in prayer till the Holy Spirit releases them (Ephesians 6:18). It takes perseverance for choir members or a church orchestra to continue to practise longer than the normal time just to get the music right. It takes endurance for those controlling traffic to be on their feet in the sun and in the rain for hours directing traffic to and from church services or programmes. It takes perseverance for ushers to be on their feet the greater part of the service, especially during special programmes. It is perseverance that makes workers go the extra mile to achieve results. Without perseverance, workers will give up once they are being overstretched.
No wonder perseverance is one of the things the Bible says believers must add to their faith (2 Peter 1:6). James 5:11 says, “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (New King James Version). Job endured his trials and God restored his fortune giving him twice as much as before. He blessed the second half of his life more than the beginning – his story changed (Job 42:12-13). Whoever endures to the end shall be saved (Matt 10:22b, 24:13; Mark 13:13b).
15. Listening to instructions. Paying attention to instructions helps to avoid the “I thought you said” syndrome, which causes unnecessary errors that could sometimes be costly. Some people have zeal but do not pay attention to instructions. They end up zealously doing the wrong things! Carrying out an assignment passionately in the wrong way doesn’t make it right all the same.
The phrase “pay attention” is used severally in the New Living Translation of the Bible. Proverbs 4:1-2 says, “My children, listen to me. Listen to your father’s instruction. Pay attention and grow wise” (New Living Translation). Verse 20 says, “Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully” (New Living Translation). And in Proverbs 7:24, the Bible says, “Listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words” (New Living Translation). You will find similar statements like that.
A worker that will be effective in the Kingdom of God must listen to instructions so that he would do exactly what is expected of him and not what he thought was said. Remember that being effective means being successful in producing a desired or intended result, not just any result. “So be sure to pay attention to what you hear. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they think they have will be taken away from them” (Luke 8:18 New Living Translation). Mark 4:24-25 says the same thing. “Those who listen to instruction will prosper…” (Proverbs 16:20 New Living Translation).
16. High sense of responsibility. Effective Christian workers respond with their abilities. Romans 12:6-8 says, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” (New Living Translation).
Effective workers don’t run away from their duties. Paul said, “God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his message in all its fullness to you Gentiles” (Colossians 1:25 New Living Translation). And no one is in doubt that Paul was conscientious in discharging this responsibility. That is the same attitude God expects of those who will be effective church workers.
Responsible people do not withhold their abilities. They respond. They take initiative; they are proactive. They exceed expectations. They have no problem adding the responsibilities of others to their normal schedule if the occasion demands it. They do more than what is required of them. Proverbs 24:12 says, “Don’t try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God knows all hearts, and he sees you. He keeps watch over your soul, and he knows you knew! And he will judge all people according to what they have done” (New Living Translation).
17. Working in the area of grace. Effectiveness in Kingdom service is enhanced by working in one’s area of grace. Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10 New King James Version). Paul labored, but the grace of God working with him made the difference.
Nobody can match a man working in his area of grace! He does not struggle; he achieves results seamlessly. Paul said he became a minister of the gospel according to the gift of the grace of God given to him by the effective working of His power (Ephesians 3:7). What New King James Version calls “Grace of God” in Ephesians 3:7, the New Living Translation calls “God’s special favor.” The grace of God is God’s special favour. Grace is often defined as unmerited favour. In addition to that, I define it as the power of God working in a man, which causes him to do more than his natural ability.
Spiritual gifts are a function of grace; they are not earned. “Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 New Living Translation). All believers do not have the same gifts.
When a believer is working in the house of God in the area that God has given him grace or special favour to serve, he makes more impact than someone not given grace in that area though grace is also in measures – the more the grace, the greater the impact. It is good for a Christian to identify the grace that he has been given and serve God in that area. The pastor should also help people by appointing them to serve in identified areas of grace. The Kingdom of God will profit more from such correct positioning.
However, this needs to be put in the proper context so that nobody hides under this subject of grace to shy away from the assignments God has given to all believers. All Christians, for example, may not be given the kind of grace given to those called as intercessors, but all Christians are called to intercede – all have the grace to intercede. Not all Christians have the grace given to evangelists, but all Christians are given the grace to evangelize or win souls. All ministers of the Gospel have the grace to minister the Word of God, but those specifically called to teach the Word are given more grace for insightful and in-depth teaching. Even grace does not foreclose training for greater effectiveness, which I already discussed under teachability. Add to your grace training, whether formal or informal.
18. Working in the area of your talent, training, or skill. Another quality that can make a church worker effective is working in the area of his talent, training, or skill. Talent is an unusual innate ability or special ability to do something well. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (New King James Version). There are talented artists, talented musicians, etc. Such people have exceptional abilities. They are gifted in certain areas, which are useful to the church. Such talents should be harnessed by the church.
There are those who have acquired some skills through formal education or training, which can be very beneficial to the church. Such people have an advantage over those without talent, training or skill in an area, but who only have an interest.
That, however, does not always mean that people must serve in church only in their areas of talents, training, or skill. For instance, the fact that someone is professional guidance and counselor does not mean he is qualified to be a counselor in church. Secular counseling is not the same as Christian counseling.
The Bible talks about the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the LORD, which are manifestations of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2). Christian counselors need the Holy Spirit and sound knowledge of the Word of God in addition to obtaining the required certification as it is required in some countries before one can be a counselor.
In addition, that someone is a teacher in school does not necessarily qualify him to be a Sunday school teacher. A Chattered Accountant may make an eternal impact on children in the children’s church than a professional nursery/primary school teacher. Every talent, training or skill must be subordinated to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Conclusion: The workers in the church are not enough yet not all who are working are effective, not because they cannot be, but because they may not be paying the price to be effective or they are serving where they do not fit in well. After the Lord encountered Saul on the way to Damascus, he asked an important question: “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6 New King James Version). This is an important question that believers who want to be effective workers in the house of God need to ask God too. Everyone should find his area of grace and labour there. Nobody should be idle in church; everybody should be an effective worker.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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