The Latin phrase, “Usus magister est optimus” is most frequently interpreted to mean “practice makes perfect.” This saying has been widely used, and most frequently applied, in areas of competition. The fact is, if you are a serious contender in any arena of competition then you do not merely ‘practice’, you ‘train’. Those who are serious about what they are doing will usually enroll in institutions that specialize in the areas they are interested in. With the aid of the experienced, and skilled instruction received, individuals are able to rise to greater levels of mastery than would have been achieved otherwise. While I appreciate the phrase, I feel as if it is slightly misleading due to the fact that we will never reach perfection in and of ourselves. I may not be able to be ‘perfect’, but I know that I can be my ‘optimus’ or best.
Have you ever been lost? Not the type of lost where you slightly have an idea of where you are, but the lost where you feel completely hopeless? Now, add to that feeling a thousand voices yelling at you, telling you the wrong directions to go. That is the kind of lost that young people in our world are today. They desperately look for the one voice that carries with it the answers they are searching for.
Unfortunately, those right answers are not coming from the government, Hollywood, sports heroes, or, all too often, their own homes. John 10:10 states, "The thief cometh not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." We've all seen the wave of destruction caused by things such as divorce, or addiction, tear a family apart, leaving the children to gather up the pieces. Almost two-thirds of youth in many churches across America have been abused physically, emotionally, or sexually. On top of this, there are the daily pressures we have all felt to fit into the world’s image, to do what the world does, and be accepted. That is where you and I come in: the youth workers.
So, why do we do what we do? Why even try with the odds stacked so highly against us? The answer is simple, because we love them. We don't do it for recognition or a fancy title; we do it because we know the agony of watching a life being destroyed by the enemy. We work with youth because we genuinely love them and want to see the good that God has planned for them come to fruition in their lives. We are the one voice out of thousands that speak truth into the lives of the lost. Not all of them will make it, and we know that. But, something inside of us forces us to try anyway. Some do make it,. sSome succeed,. sSome move past the inherited chaos their families left them to deal with, and do well in life. I'll never forget a time in my life, as a teenager, that I began to drift from the Church. What brought me back was the love I felt from my leaders, even when I wasn't doing right. Look at a missionary map. How many of those couples wouldn’t be pictured there today if somebody didn't show them love? How many pastors, assistants, evangelists, Sunday School teachers, and other ministers would not be where they are today without the help of a youth worker?
Rev. Mark Bradshaw
Assistant Pastor/Youth Pastor
Goldthwaite Center of Evangelism
In July of 1999, I found myself sitting across from my first Pastor and boss, launching into my first full-time Music Ministry assignment. The meeting lasted about an hour. He began by stating how thrilled they all were that my wife and I had decided to make this our church home. He proceeded to hand me the keys to the church, show me where my office was located, point out thermostat locations, and inform me what hospitals they use (just in case I needed to fill in for a hospital visit). “Oh, and by the way,” he interjected, “do you know how to drive a Kubota tractor?” “No sir,” I reluctantly replied. “It’s easy,” he reassuringly said handing me the keys. We then walked outside where I was shown the field and long ditch line that I would become very familiar with over the next 5 years. In my mind I was thinking, “Am I the music director here?”
I learned a valuable lesson. Ministry in itself is all about serving others. The first four letters of ministry is M-I-N-I. Let me stop here and say, if you are all about position, fame, and wealth; ministry is not for you. I heard someone say of ministry once, “The pay stinks but the benefits are out of this world.” I went into that meeting thinking I only needed to wear one hat, the musician’s hat, but I quickly understood; I’m going need to get a giant hat rack.
Music ministry is more than just playing and leading worship on Sundays and Wednesdays. That’s the easy part. An effective Music Minister is constantly developing other people. This could be through individual or group lessons, part leaders, music staff, creative thinking teams, worship leaders, directing, instructional classes, mentoring, etc. A great leader in music ministry is not afraid to allow others to excel. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. He never intended on being just a one-man show. His plan was to pick 12 men with different personalities and abilities to fulfill the great commission. He even sent them out on their own to heal and teach others what they had learned from Him. I’m very sure that they were not as eloquent in their speaking as Jesus was, but He allowed them to learn from their mistakes and grow as leaders. Isn’t it amazing that He chose ordinary people to be His disciples?
There are five requirements which must be met before we can effectively serve others.
1. Make a Decision
In Exodus 32:26, Moses stood at the gate of the camp and simply said, “Who’s on the Lord’s side?” The Levites were the only people who came forward. They made a decision to abandon who they were and go forward. Moses knew from that moment that they would be the ones he could use and trust. Moses didn’t ask, “Who wants to be over the tent of meeting or who wants to be over the music?” They had no idea they would be would be given charge of those things, among many others. They simply just made a decision.
2. Kill what is Dear to You
The Lord told Moses to instruct the Levites to kill the firstborn from the other tribes. They had to kill close friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, in ministry, you will have
to cut off relationships. There may be a hobby, or something that you enjoy, that will have to be removed. The Bible says in I Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Paul instructed that we ourselves must die daily.
3. Be Thoroughly Cleansed
After the Levites made a decision, and killed what was dear to them, Moses instructed them to go through a cleansing process. He wanted them set apart from the other tribes. Let me stop here and say, the world and the church were always meant to be separated. I believe in separation, not isolation. Thank God that we look different! We are officially set aside, thoroughly washed, and anointed for service.
4. Carry the Burden
Before the Levites were to minister in the temple, they had to setup the tent, and properly arrange the furniture. God gave specific instructions on how he wanted things placed, and Moses appointed certain qualified people, who were skilled in those areas, to carry out the plan. I was surprised to learn that I would have to learn to wear the sound technician’s hat and the counselor’s hat as a Minister of Music. When God calls you into ministry, and you develop a burden for it, you perform what is requested of you without questioning and with a right spirit. You carry the burden. God’s plan for the Ark of the Covenant (presence of God) was to be carried on the shoulders when it was moved. Uzzah and Ahio got it wrong in two ways. First, it should have never been placed on a cart. As worship leaders we are to always feel the weight of responsibility on our shoulders to usher the presence of God into our services. Secondly, Uzzah committed a deadly error when he reached out and touched the Ark. Worship is always a positive experience. The presence of God should never be pushed into a service. I know it’s out of context, but it’s true in this setting, God said “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me.” Carry the burden wrapped in prayer and covered by the spirit of God. Anything carried onto that platform that is of our flesh contaminates the entire service.
5. Have the Ability to Minister
God will never call you into something that you don’t have the ability to follow through with. As a young boy, I was always the kid that was the shyest in the class, never wanted to be called upon to talk or give a speech, and doubted myself when it came to making decisions. I was a follower. But at the age of 17, God had other plans when I was called into ministry. I have had to overcome my fear of getting up in front of a crowd and the worry about what someone might think of my leadership. I know it’s an old cliché, but God does not call the equipped, he equips the called. I am a testimony to this!
You may feel the calling of God on your life, but not feel like you have what it takes. Remember, God uses ordinary people.
Grab your hats, confirm your call, and hang on for a great adventure! Who knows…you might just have to learn how to drive a Kubota tractor along the way.
Bro. Tim Hall
Dean of Music
Texas Bible College
I am excited to be communicating with those who will be future leaders in ministry. Texas Bible College was where I had my first opportunity to serve in leadership. My experiences as student body president, and as editor of the school newspaper, provided invaluable preparation for other roles of leadership that I would serve in over the subsequent years.
To be in ministry is to be in leadership; the two are inseparable. Just to name a few ways that ministry is about leadership:
While the Scriptures are replete with examples of leaders, there is no greater example of effective leadership than Jesus Christ. In three years, he took twelve ordinary men and replicated himself in them. He prepared them to lead the effort to turn their world upside down.
Some leadership concepts have application in both the secular and spiritual realms. That being said, those who will serve in ministry must have an understanding that goes beyond mere secular leadership concepts. The pinnacle of our leadership pyramid is not a mere man, but God himself. We must always remember that his ways are higher than our ways, and the way of faith often does not follow secular principles. This is not a detriment. When you consider the Gifts of the Spirit that he gives - many times specifically to leaders - you can see that we have a real advantage. We are informed, empowered, and inspired in a supernatural manner. Such divine assistance offers a decided advantage over mere human wisdom.
We should not just recognize the advantage that his Spirit gives us – but we must also recognize the obligation to follow the Spirit even when it seems to fly in the face of conventional leadership concepts. In the secular arena, the norm is to map out a planned path to a successful career. To be successful spiritual leaders, we must remember we are not our own. We are bought with a price. We are subject to his direction, and his plan, for our life.
As this blog is directed toward those who are attending Bible College, or those who are considering doing so, I want to talk to you about where you should be focused in relation to the development of your leadership potential.
Each step successfully achieved in your leadership development becomes the foundation of success at the next level. In brief: You start out leading yourself, then you lead others, and ultimately you lead the institution. You literally end up “owning” the mission and purpose of the institution (the “institution” might be a local church, a particular ministry, or the church organization).
As a young person starting in ministry your focus should be on the development of personal leadership or the leading of yourself. Until you learn to lead yourself, you have no right, nor the moral authority to lead others. Those who are destined for leadership success should be intensely focused on mastering skills relative to leading themselves.
At the personal level of leadership you should be focused on excelling at:
It is in accomplishing these core abilities that you develop the foundation of your ability to successfully lead others. You will notice that all of these skills to be mastered at the personal level are not just grasping the theory of leadership. You must demonstrate your mastery in a practical way by actually “doing” these things. Your time in Bible College will have an intense focus on learning doctrine, as it should. It also presents a tremendous opportunity for you to learn and personally demonstrate leadership concepts you will need to possess to be a successful spiritual leader.
Successfully leading yourself calls for the development of character. The possession of character is a make-it or break-it aspect of the leadership paradigm. This is especially true in ministry. Talent is not enough.
Personal leadership is primary and basic. It is not flashy, but without it your future leadership success will be limited. Get it right. First.
-Rev. Kevin L. Prince
Texas District Superintendent
TBC Alumnus (Class of 1983)