As I sat to begin my quiet time with God, four words entered my mind. I believe that these words were from His Holy Spirit and were given to me as instruction for where he is leading me, but I also believe they are words for all who would look to serve Him, especially in ministry or leadership. The four words that God gave me are listen, learn, love, and lead. When these words first came into my thoughts, the first thing I noticed was that they all begin with the letter 'L.' "Cool!" I thought. "God likes alliteration!" But as these words moved from my mind to my heart, I began to understand that God was telling me what I need to do if I am going to serve him in ministry.
Listen. The first thing that I need to do is to listen for God's voice. I spend a lot of time talking to God, but do I take enough time to be silent and listen so that He can speak to me? In all honesty, my answer would have to be "not always." In the gospel accounts, Jesus says several times, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8, 14:35) God gave me physical ears to hear with. He also gave me spiritual ears, and I need to use them in order to discern what He is trying to say to me. That means I need to be quiet and listen. As it says in His Word, I need to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
Learn. The second thing I need to do is to learn. In order to serve Him well, I need to follow His ways. How can I do that? By studying His Word, by immersing myself in it. I can also learn by connecting with or reading the thoughts of others who follow His ways. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus tells me I should take His yoke upon me and learn from Him. When I am yoked with Him, I have no choice but to follow in His ways. His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:9) and I need to learn from Him and trust in Him. When I do that, rather than leaning on my own understanding, He will show me the way in which I need to go (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Love. If I am to serve Him in ministry and in leading others, I need to love. God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 says that we should all love one another, for love is from God. If I am His, if I truly know God, then I must love others. If I don't, I cannot truly say that I love God. When I truly love the people whom God places in my life to minister to, then God abides in me. And when He abides in me, then His love is perfected in me (1 John 4:12). If I am to serve Him, if I am to represent Him to others, then others need to see Him in me. They need to see that I am a follower of Christ (John 13:35).
Lead. When I listen, learn, and love, I will be equipped to serve God in the way He chooses for me. I will be able to lead like Jesus. Jesus was the greatest example of a leader ever known on earth. And not just a leader, but a servant leader. Jesus said that anyone who chooses to serve Him must follow Him (John 12:26). So, if I am to serve Him by leading His people, then I must follow His example as a servant leader. Jesus demonstrated that on the night before He died for us. As He shared the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus began to wash their feet. When He had finished, He said, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." (John 13:14-15, ESV). To lead as Jesus led means to be a servant leader.
Listen, learn, love, and lead. As I continue to serve God and lead others, I pray that these words will always be in my heart. And, if you are serving in ministry or feel a calling to it, I pray that they will inspire you, as well.