Shaping Ourselves For Ministry

Are you SHAPEd for ministry?

Adapted from an article by Rick Warren (Author of “Purpose Driven Life” and “Purpose Driven Church”)

S.H.A.P.E. is an acronym Rick Warren developed years ago to explain the five elements that determine what a person’s ministry should be. Every believer is uniquely shaped for a particular ministry.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS: The Bible clearly teaches that God gives every believer certain spiritual gifts to be used in ministry (1 Cor. 12, Rom. 8, Eph. 4). However, spiritual gifts are only one part of the picture. Spiritual gifts are often overemphasized to the neglect of other equally important factors. Natural abilities that you were born with also came from God. So do your experiences and inborn personality traits. These factors were also planned by your Creator. Spiritual gifts reveal part of God’s will for your ministry, but not all of it.

HEART: The Bible uses the term “heart” to represent the center of your motivation, desires, interests, and inclinations. Your heart determines why you say the things you do (Matt. 12:34), why you feel the way you do (Ps. 34:7), and why you act the way you do (Pr. 4:23).

Another word for heart is “passion.” There are certain subjects that you feel passionate about and others that you couldn’t care less about. Some things turn you on while other things turn you off. That is an expression of your heart. God had a purpose in giving you your inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat reveals a very important key to understanding His intentions for your life. Don’t ignore your natural interests. People rarely excel at tasks they don’t enjoy doing. High achievers enjoy what they do.

ABILITIES: These are the natural talents that you were born with. Some people have a natural ability with words. It is as if they were born talking. Other people have natural athletic abilities. They excel in physical coordination. Exodus 31:3 gives an example of how God gives people “skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts…” in order to accomplish his purposes. In this case, it was artistic ability to be used in building the Tabernacle. It’s interesting to note that musical talent is not listed as a “spiritual gift,” but it certainly is a natural ability that God uses in worship.

PERSONALITY: It’s obvious that God has not used a set mould to create people. He loves variety—-just look around! God made introverts and extroverts. He made people who love routine and those who love variety. He made some people “thinkers” and others “feelers.” Some people work best when given an individual assignment while others work better with a team. We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and give it flavor. Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities. For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and the other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways. 

EXPERIENCES: God never wastes an experience. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. Let us consider five areas of experience that will influence the kind of ministry people are best shaped for: (1) Educational experiences: What were your favorite subjects in school? (2) Vocational experiences: What jobs have you enjoyed and achieved results while doing? (3) Spiritual experiences: What have been the meaningful or decisive times with God in your life? (4) Ministry experiences: How have you served God in the past? (5) Painful experiences: What are the problems, hurts, and trials that you’ve learned from? 

Your SHAPE was sovereignly determined by God for His purpose, so you shouldn’t resent it or reject it. Romans 9:20-21 (New International Version) But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20-21 (The Message) “Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?”

Instead of trying to reshape ourselves to be like someone else, we should celebrate the SHAPE God has given to each of us.

Have you determined your own SHAPE? That’s essential for you to know as you minister to your congregation.

We at Menorah Leadership Ministries believe that a clear understanding of the various elements of our SHAPE, are very important for us in our ministry. We also believe that the moment we decided to follow Jesus, we have been chosen by Him to influence the lives of others, and thus we are automatically called for Leadership. We will try to understand this by the Menorah Framework of Leadership Development (FOLD) 

John C Maxwell, the noted Church leader, author and Leadership Guru, states in the introduction to the Maxwell Leadership Bible that one of the simplest, but most profound definitions of Leadership that he has come across is “Leadership is influence”. I could not agree with him more. You look at any leaders, you will ultimately realise that they influence the lives of their “followers” in many ways, some of them good, some of them bad.

Why do we need to influence others?

Fruits of Labour

As a Church, Christian Organisation , or as individual followers of Christ, we are called to produce results. We are here to do His business and Glorify His Kingdom, and that happens when we bear fruits for the kingdom. 

Jesus told us :

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8

and

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. John 15:16

Paul makes his mission clear

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Philippians 1:22

A Tree is known by the fruit it bears. Same holds good for a Christian .

As leaders and ministers our results are basically measured by our ability to influence the lives of others. We cannot bear fruit for Him unless we are able to influence the lives of those around us. Once we influence the lives of others we become leaders.

Our ability to influence others depend a lot on the way people feel to be around us ( in our company) 

As leaders, or as ministers the results that we can produce are largely dependent on the way people feel to be around us. We cannot influence people if we do not care for others. And we are called to influence people not for our glory, but for the Glory of God. 2 Corinthians 8:21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. 1Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Our Behaviours have a great impact on the way people feel to be in our company. In Leadership Language, we call these behaviours, Leadership Styles.

2 Samuel 15:6 tells us that Absolam won the hearts of Israelites by his behavior. Modern Management research shows that the way the employees feel to work in an organisation is greatly impacted by the way the Leaders of the organisation behave in specific situations. Same is the case in Christian organisations and Churches. The way the Leaders in these organisations/Churches behave, will impact how the people feel to be in that church or in the organisation.

What makes us behave in a particular way? This is a function of Who/What we are , and the situations in which God places us.

The way we behave (Our Leadership Styles) are greatly impacted by who we are as individuals. Our Individuality is a complex mix of our Personality, the Basic Skills and abilities that we have and the Leadership Characteristics that we are endowed with.

God Equipped each one of us with characteristics and capabilities as required to perform His work. We already talked about the SHAPE. These could be at the basic level for everyone, and at advanced level for Leaders .We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Romans 12:6

Basic Skills and characteristics are required for every Christian worker.

Servant Leadership Characteristics differentiate Outstanding Christian Leaders from Ordinary ones.

Apart from the capabilities and Leadership Characteristics, Our Personality plays a big role in how we behave in different situations.

But for us Christians, all these are derived out of our Christian Identity, who we are in Christ.

So the FOLD simply put, is this. Who we are, makes us behave in a particular way in a particular situation. The way we behave, impacts the way people feel to be around us, and the way people feel to be around us, impacts amount of influence we can have on others and thereby impacts the results or fruits that we can produce for the Kingdom. Does it all connect up now? In the Menorah Leadership Ministries, we help Christian Professionals, Christian workers and Christian Organisations understand these principles and apply them at work, immaterial of whether we work in a Christian organisation or a secular organisation.

 

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