By Louis Smith
Today's Scripture: Philippians 1:1–26
Central Thought: Effective ministry requires a love for people.
'I love the ministry,” the pastor confided to a friend. 'It's the people I can't stand!”
All of us involved in ministry have probably chuckled at that old story and even added a silent 'amen” under our breaths. People can really take the joy out of ministry. But then, aren't people what ministry is all about?
How can we develop a love for the people to whom we minister? We need to find the answer to that question because effective ministry requires loving the people ministry aims to reach. In his opening to Philippians—one of the most personal of Paul's epistles—Paul talks candidly about his feelings toward the people at the church in Philippi. His words give us some clues about developing a loving attitude for the people to whom we minister.
'I have you in my memory” (Philippians 1:3). Paul thankfully recalled the people at Philippi—not that every memory was a good one. There's a good lesson here about loving people: let go of the negative memories; instead, hold on to the positive ones.
'I have you in my prayers” (Philippians 1:4). Someone has said that it's hard to remain angry with someone you're praying for. Try it. It's a loving act on your part, and it can vastly improve the way you look at folks to whom you minister.
'I have you in my heart” (Philippians 1:7, NIV). Paul's feelings about these people were genuine. He truly loved them. Once we create a pattern of positive memories and thoughts about people, and we couple that with intercessory prayer for them, it's not long until we find them thoroughly lodged in our hearts. In that atmosphere it's not hard to say, 'I love the ministry, and that includes the people to whom I minister.”
Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to love everyone You have placed in my sphere of ministry.
Today's Bible Reading: Isaiah 57:14-59:21; Philippians 1:1-26; Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 24:9-10