Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.
If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.
1) Vow to maintain integrity.
“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.
Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth, even when it’s tough. All leadership is built on trust. And trust comes from having the reputation for living out what you believe and for telling the truth. As a pastor and leader, people must trust you.
Will you make a commitment to lead with integrity? Will you be honest about both your strengths and weaknesses? Will you commit to living your sermons out every week? Will you tell the truth to those you lead even when it’s tough?
2) Vow to forgive those who hurt you.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up” (Hebrews 12:14-15).
Leaders forgive those who hurt them. You will be hurt in ministry. It’s going to happen. It’s a given. You will be hurt both intentionally and unintentionally. You will be hurt by those who recognize what they’re doing and those who don’t. You cannot be in ministry without being hurt. If you call the shots, you’re going to take the shots.
But you’ve got to be willing to forgive those who try to take you down. If you allow bitterness to build, it will choke your heart for God and your love for people until your heart just shrivels.
Will you forgive when every bone in your body wants to retaliate?
3) Vow to relax and trust God.
“Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter into God’s rest” (Hebrews 4:11).
If you’re going to be in ministry, you’ve got to learn to relax. You need to be concerned about the people around you, but at the same time, you’re not God. You can’t bear everybody’s burden all the time.
How do you release those burdens? First, you’ve got to pray. Ultimately, God is the one responsible for your flock. He’s the one responsible for the growth of your ministry. Share your burdens with him in prayer.