By Philip Harrelson
One of the great needs in the life of every minister is a clear and well-defined plan for personal growth. For personal growth to take place, one must invest time, money, discipline, and effort. Many secular professions emphasize continuing education units for those engaged in the specified field of service. The boards that approve, certify, or license these professionals have determined that continuing education keeps minds sharp while advancing that profession. If we were to be scheduled for a major surgical procedure in the next few weeks, knowing the physician and the surgical team had continued to attend seminars, medical conferences, and mandatory in-services to sharpen their skills would boost our confidence. A minister should have the same discipline about his or her own personal calling and ministry as do these professionals.
The great challenge for the minister, especially if he or she has settled into a particular place for a long period of time, is how to accomplish growth. Secular leadership seminars, business/management books, and personal coaching can help to attain a higher level of administrative skills. While these resources can be helpful with goal setting, short-term and long-term planning, and brushing up on administrative skills, they can never fulfill the great need of personal spiritual growth in the life of a minister.Writing under the unction of the Holy Spirit, he knew that if he could take care of the issues in the hearts of Timothy and Titus, advancement and apostolic progress of the church would take care of itself. Click To Tweet
One of the greatest discoveries a minister can make is an administrative manual from the first century. Paul wrote three letters to two young men he was mentoring. Paul’s apostolic authority and advice pours out of these epistles. While I and II Timothy along with Titus are commonly referred to as the Pastoral Epistles, his advice serves well to address the entire five-fold apostolic ministry and is not limited to just pastoral ministry. Instead of it dealing so much with the outward trappings that the western church calls success, Paul was more concerned with the condition of the soul of these men rather than the size of the churches. Writing under the unction of the Holy Spirit, he knew that if he could take care of the issues in the hearts of Timothy and Titus, advancement and apostolic progress of the church would take care of itself.
Personal Growth: Pursue Biblical Character Traits
What if personal growth took on an entirely spiritual focus? What if a minister spent a year with an effort at disciplined prayer and fasting and ministry of the Word? What if the goal sheets that were turned in each week were designed so that a minister was pursuing the character traits that Paul listed in I Timothy 2? What if it involved setting matters straight in the church as Paul instructed Titus to do? What if it gave itself to the training and sending out of men and women from the local church to evangelize our world? What if it meant that our ministry was populating our endorsed colleges and seminary? What if personal growth meant that young men and young women were serving in the Associates in Missions program? The answers to these questions are at the core of a minister’s personal growth.
(Part II of this article will be posted next week.)
A version of this content originally appeared in Forward.
Resources and Links for Personal Growth
For personal growth resources, consider books by Eugene Wilson.