Ministry is often glamorized from the outside looking in, and with good reason. Ministry is amazing on many fronts.
So it’s a natural temptation as a young person attending seminary, learning about so many wonderful principles, to imagine how your future ministry will thrive. How easy it is when you have a secular job to think “ministry” would be so less frustrating and difficult than your current place of employment. You just wish you could be serving people all day, having people come to you for help, helping them with the love of Christ, and being warmly loved in return for your hard work? Ministry would be amazing!
While I am not here to bash a vision like this or shame anyone with ideas like this, I think it’s also safe to say those who have been in any type of Christian ministry for an extended period of time know things are not so sterile and orderly. There’s so much pain and pleasure mixed together in real ministry.
What does the Bible say about false prophets and teachers? Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-16, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.”
Whenever Jesus tells us to “beware,” he means this in the most literal sense. As Christians we must be on guard, for wolves dress in sheep clothing, trying to masquerade as innocent pastors but in reality are dangerous false prophets and teachers. Wolves are cunning, they prey on sheep rather than on other wolves, and therefore Christians must know how to detect a dangerous leader, for they will not be obvious, especially if you are an accepting person.
1 John 4:1-3 tells us that anyone who does not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God is a false prophet. This sign of a false prophet is the most obvious. But again, as Jesus warned us, false prophets are crafty and they won’t always reveal themselves this easily. This is why 1 John 4:1 tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
So here are 16 signs of a false prophet and teacher.
When you are a Christian who works in a secular work place, you have a real challenge in front of you. Even if you work in a Christian environment like a church or a non-profit, there will always be people who have a way of dragging you down rather than building you up. This is why Christian boundaries at work are such an important part of a healthy life.
Boundaries usually don’t just appear magically. Like fences around our property, we have to put in the work to build them if we hope to keep the good in and the bad out. I like the analogy of fences around a yard when it comes to personal boundaries at work because usually there will be a small gate somewhere along the fence too. We need to be able to let people into our lives as well when appropriate.
If you are a Christian, there is perhaps no better missionary field for you than your secular place of work. The goal here is not to setup an impenetrable wall where no one can break through your defenses and truly get to know you. Rather, the goal is to allow people in who you are going to help rather than people who are going to hurt you. Like a gate, you need to be able to choose when and who enters into your yard.
Christian boundaries at work keep you in control of your life. So let’s look at three of the most important boundaries for Christians in the workplace.
Is greatness contagious? I think so, along with weakness. Both the splendor and sin of the human spirit are cultivated through the companions with which one invests his time. Who you spend time with is not the only variable in our development, but it is a very crucial one.
Always, when you do a little digging, you will find that those truly admirable were inspired by and (to some degree) sculpted by other great men and women surrounding them. Children whose parents are professional athletes or gifted academically seem to have a greater knack for similar accolades. Sure, one can make a case that it’s all in the genes, but surely this is not the main variable in the equation of greatness.
Small group Bible studies are not just a great idea. They are a biblical idea. From the moment the New Testament church was founded, core to its identity was small bands of Christians meeting together and studying God’s word (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 17:11, Colossians 3:16, Colossians 4:15).
Of course small group Bible studies are not as important as the actual church and what happens Sunday morning. And there are certainly other effective formats that fulfill the church’s obligation to teach its members outside of Sunday morning (classes, support groups, one-on-one discipleship, etc.). But one of the clearest signs of a healthy church is a healthy small group Bible study ministry.
I believe if you want a healthy small group ministry, it all starts with having great small group leaders. So how can you be a great small group leader? Or if you’re in church leadership and are looking for great small group leaders, what are some signs to consider?
What follows is not an exhaustive list or one ranked by importance. It is simply a list of 24 keys to being a great small group leader.
And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. – Acts 11:26
The word “Christian” is nowhere used in the Bible as anything other than a noun. However, in American culture we constantly use “Christian” as an adjective or adverb to describe things such as music, movies, books, character, charitable acts, and so many other things. The great danger in this is the temptation to replace our genuine faith in Christ with traditions steeped in culture rather than God’s everlasting truth.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29
Jesus spoke to the masses, he visited towns because that’s where the people were, and every Christian is told to make disciples of all nations. Like Jesus, to love well, we must go where the people are.
When Paul visited Athens, he spent his time in the marketplace where the Athenians “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21). By roaming the city streets, Paul gathered precious info about their pagan beliefs, thus giving himself a better opportunity to share the gospel in the most effective way possible (Acts 17:22-23).
So where are the people today? Where do they “spend their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas”? Where can we go to better understand their beliefs, culture, and current trends with the hope of giving ourselves the best opportunity to present the gospel most effectively?
And Jesus said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I have come.” Mark 1:38
In response to growing up in a dead church environment where the deeds often didn’t match the words, there is a movement in the American Church towards emphasizing social justice. If you ask most people about why they don’t like Christianity, hypocrisy is the number one answer. Nobody wants to be fake. It makes sense, then, of why Christians are seeking to live out their faith by helping the poor and less fortunate (besides the biblical command to do so).
This is right. Jesus clearly healed the sick, provided food for the hungry, and had a special affection for orphans and widows due to their helplessness. James 1:22, 27 states, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. . . . Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Jesus Actually Healed Less So He Could Preach More
With all of that said, helping people with their physical needs is not the main point of Christianity.
Does the Bible say we should not care what others think about us? No, but it does say we must seek to please God over people.
As every Christian matures, one of the things the Holy Spirit will surely convict us of is seeking the praise of man over God. In our sinful nature, we care about what others think of us for the wrong reasons.
Caring What Others Think of You Can Be Expressed Wrongly in Two Ways
When we seek the praise of people, it can be expressed in many different ways. The two ends of the spectrum are obsessive pursuit and obsessive avoidance. One person may do anything to be praised by people, while another person will do anything not to be seen by people, but both can have the same root issue – caring too much about what people think of them.