Consider for a moment your effectiveness as a minister. Are you someone who desires to be proficient in leading students to develop a more vibrant faith life? I bet you are. I bet that as someone who is called by God to lead students in discipleship, you take your calling seriously. You want to be good at what you do. So, let’s ask a question:
As it pertains to our ability to effectively minister to youth, what is the most ministry-inhibiting roadblock we face?
It’s not inexperience.
It’s not poor leadership from our executive staff.
It’s not budgetary concerns.
And it’s not lack of formal education.
I believe the roadblock that has the most potential to derail and destroy your ministry effectiveness can be found in one very simple word:
Having spent the last 14 years or so supporting youth workers through various parachurch youth ministry organizations, I believe that sin keeps more people from reaching their ministry potential than any other obstacle. And I’m not really talking about what I will call “general sin.”
We are sinful people. This is no shock to anyone reading this. As long as we are on this earth, we will contend with sin. We will have bad attitudes. We will act selfishly. We will fall short. I’m not really talking about our general sin nature.
When I say that the most ministry-limiting roadblock we face is sin, I am talking about specific sin in our lives. I am talking about that one personal sin-habit that you have. I am talking about that one sin that you have struggled with for years. The one you keep hidden. The one that has almost become a normal part of your life.
Your personal, habitual sin is keeping you from being a more effective, more powerful spiritual leader.
Have you ever seen an athlete training by running with a parachute attached to them to increase resistance? This is a picture of your sin-habit weighing down your ministry effectiveness. You’re trying to run, but your sin-habit has a parachute effect on you, slowing you down, minimizing your ability to move forward.
How do our personal sin-habits serve as roadblocks to our ministry effectiveness?
It Robs Your Joy
The guilt and shame and self-abuse associated with carrying the burden of unrepentant sin has the affect of stealing your joy for ministry. The God-given joy you experience from fulfilling your purpose is robbed by the sin-habit you carry with you.
It Stunts Your Growth
If you are growing spiritually, you are a more dynamic leader. You teach better. You model better. Your personal sin-habit can dramatically affect your spiritual growth. Which in turn affects your ministry effectiveness.
It Deprives You of Opportunity
Scripture is clear: God gives more opportunity to those who prove faithful with the opportunity they are given. What opportunities has God not opened up to you because of the sin you have been ignoring in your life?
It Jeopardizes Your Ministry
For many, their unaddressed sin is a ticking time bomb. Whether sexual immorality, anger issues, greed, dishonesty or any one of a dozen other sins, your ministry could be in jeopardy because you have failed to address sin in your life.
So, when we consider the effects our sin-habits can have on our ministry, the question we must ask is how we can begin to address the unaddressed sin that plagues us?
- First, we must repent. ALL sin is active rebellion against God. The first step in dealing with our sin-habits is repenting of the sin before God. Repentance means turning away from your sin. Go before God, ask forgiveness, then turn your back on your sin-habit.
- Seek support from trusted brothers or sisters in Christ. For many, the reason a particular sin has become a sin-habit is because it has happened in the dark for many years. Exposing the sin to the light of Christian community robs Satan of one of his most powerful tools. Seek help in dealing with a sin-habit.
- Turn your weakness into a strength. Do you struggle with angry actions and thoughts? Go to God’s Word and search for every passage of Scripture that addresses anger. (Do the same for whatever sin-habit affects you.) Then, make it your job to know these passages. Study them. Pray through them. Own them! Give the Holy Spirit the ammunition to convict you with when you struggle.
- Pursue holiness. Our sin is nothing more than the symptom of a deeper illness, not the illness itself. Your unaddressed greed, or anger, or lusting, is the symptom of a heart that is not pursuing Christ-likeness. Seek holiness! Desire to be pure. Bend your will toward God’s, trusting in Him to help make you like Him. When we are striving to be righteous and holy, our sinful desires will be subjected to the pursuit of Christ-likeness in our lives.
However you choose to address your personal sin-habit, the most important thing is to take action. Doing nothing will only further hinder your ministry potential.
And the stakes are too high for inaction.