Ministry troubles can come from a variety of sources but how we deal with them might vary depending on the cause. Ideally we should seek to prevent problems but that isn’t always possible as some issues in ministry aren’t a result of our own choices or actions, though sometimes they might be.
Causes of Ministry Problems and How to Prevent or Correct Them
Whether preventing or correcting problems, looking at the cause can help us determine how to proceed.
- Sometimes we inherit problems already in existence when we became involved.
Prevent: Obviously we can’t prevent pre-exiting problems. We can turn down the ministry opportunity because of it but sometimes we’re not aware issues exist until we get involved. Or, we can accept the challenge, under God’s leading, and with His wisdom and power rise above and perhaps even help rectify the problem.
Correct: When getting involved in a ministry with pre-existing problems, we must move cautiously and slowly. Initially we should do little other than observe and learn more about the situation. We should build relationships and meet people where they are. Then we can gradually introduce change, under God’s guidance, as we are able. Read: Eph. 4:2, 32; 1 Thess. 5:11-22; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 3:8-11; 5:5
- There may be times we’re the one who makes a mistake leading to some fallout. We may have made a wrong decision, an error in judgment, perhaps something that had a number of “good” or “acceptable” choices and we didn’t choose the best.
Prevent: Before making any decisions, we should pray first so we’re not leaning on our own understanding but rather fully trusting the Lord to guide us (Prov. 3:5-6). We can learn to be more discerning by regularly studying and aligning with God’s Word (Heb. 5:14) and following the way of love (Phil. 1:9-10).
Correct: The best thing we can do is humbly admit we made a mistake. Pride will keep us from changing course or re-building bridges in relationships that may have suffered as a result of our mistake. Read: Ps. 139:23-24; Prov. 19:20, 25
- Sadly we might act or react contrary to God and His ways due to our old sin nature.
Prevent: When we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-23).
Correct: We need to confess our sin to God and others, and make amends. We must rely on God to change us from the inside out by His grace and power. Read: 1 Jn. 1:5-10; Matt. 5:23-25; Jn. 8:10-11
- Others may sin or make mistakes, that has nothing to do with us, but causes problems in our sphere of ministry.
Prevent: Apart from denying others opportunity to be involved in the same ministry we’re in, which goes contrary to God’s ways, we have to accept the reality that we live in a fallen world, the consequences of which will even affect the Church and ministries. But, we can also do our part to spur others on the love and good deeds, seeking to build them up in their walk with God, and encouraging them to walk in the Spirit so they are more prone to align with God and His ways. And, we certainly can pray for people in our sphere of ministry … regularly, not just when they’re in crisis or problems arise.
Correct: God encourages us to talk with people privately in ways that lovingly speak truth into their lives, always enveloping any confrontation in prayer, fervently asking God to work in their hearts. Read: Eph. 4:15; Gal. 6:1-2; Heb. 10:24; James 5:13-16
Let’s remember Jesus’ words so we have a realistic view of ministry. He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” We may not always be able to prevent problems. But, we can have perspective and act and react in a Christ-like manner when we grasp hold of Jesus’ next statement. — “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) — In Him, there’s a way forward.