The Best Way to Have a Ministry That Pleases God by Rick Warren
Some Bible verses are so clear that their simple truth is undeniable, such as Hebrews 11:6 which says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (NLT)
In case you missed the deep, hidden meaning of the phrase “it is impossible to please God without faith” let me state it clearly. It is impossible to please God without faith. In other words, God has spelled out for us the kind of life that He finds pleasing. It’s not a life of achievement or good works or religiosity. It’s a life of faith. And if our primary motivation for ministry is pleasing God, then we need a ministry of faith.
The fact is, ministry is too unpredictable to be motivated by security. It’s too unprofitable to be motivated by money. It’s too demanding to be motivated by pleasure, and it’s too criticized to be motivated by fame. Our ministry should be motivated by the pleasure of God, and God is pleased when we have a ministry powered by faith.
Thankfully, the Scriptures clarify what faith looks like in ministry through at least six principles.
1. Faith is believing when I don’t see it.
Faith is essentially seeing the future in the present. Not much changes in our world until someone sees a different picture than everyone else. Every great achievement in the history of human civilization was once impossible, or understood to be impossible, until someone attempted it. So dream some great dreams for God and set some big goals.
2. Faith is obeying when I don’t understand it.
Has God ever told you to throw out a sermon you spent many hours preparing? Has He led you to witness to someone when you didn’t have the time? Or has He ever asked you to leave a comfortable church position for an unknown situation? Then you know what it’s like to try to obey God when you don’t understand Him or what He’s up to. It’s impossible to minister in faith without taking any risks.
3. Faith is giving when I don’t have it.
Giving and faith go hand in hand. It’s possible to give without growing in your faith, but it’s impossible to grow in your faith without giving sacrificially. It’s simply God’s means of growing us. There is a direct relationship between how I use my money and the spiritual power that I enjoy. When I loosen my grip and give resources away while trusting God to provide, He blesses my life.
4. Faith is persisting when I don’t feel like it.
In the early days of planting Saddleback, there were just a few of us who needed to do everything. As a Pastor, I was involved in everything that was happening. I not only preached the sermons, I also carried equipment and plants in and out and set up multiple buildings for multiple services. There were certainly times when the work became exhausting, but we persisted by faith, believing it would lead to seeing lives changed. And that’s just what happened.
5. Faith is thanking God before I receive it.
When Joshua led the people of Israel into their battle against Jericho, they marched around the city for seven consecutive days, and I would imagine that those were long days. But every day, they thanked God in advance for the victory they were going to enjoy. When we do this in ministry, it’s pleasing to God.
6. Faith is trusting God if I don’t get it.
God always hears and answers our prayers, but He doesn’t always answer the way we’d like. Ministering, even by faith, doesn’t exempt you from some of the circumstances that God will providentially allow in your life that are uncomfortable. In fact, it’s when we don’t see our circumstances changing the way we would want them to that our faith really grows. Anyone can trust God when things are going well, but real faith develops in the valleys of ministry.
You may be at a place in ministry right now where you’ve worked, you’ve obeyed, you’ve prayed and served and preached your heart out, but things aren’t going in the direction you’ve been hoping for. Remember that God is far more concerned about your character and whom you are becoming than He is about the numerical results you experience. He’s the Judge and He always judges faithfully. He is pleased with your believing, your obeying, your giving, your persistence, your thankfulness, and your trust regardless of the results you experience.