(I wrote the following before becoming a Lead Pastor. As a U.S. Missionary now, I have a great desire to encourage and serve pastors and ministry leaders, not only through Mission America Placement Service (U.S. MAPS), but through practical helps. Maybe this piece will bring clarity if you need it.)
My Principles for Life and Ministry
Rev. Marcus Johnson
I am a devoted follower of Christ first. Everything I am and do flows from that relationship. My priority is to keep Christ before all things and people. I will do that by such disciplines as praying, fasting, studying the Word, giving of tithes and offerings, evaluating my priorities, filling my mind and life with godliness, and guarding my heart. I desire to be an “example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity,” just as 1 Timothy 4:12 admonishes.
I am a devoted husband. I love and cherish my wife. Next to Christ, I need her more than anything or anyone else. Her support in the ministry as well as her own involvement is absolutely necessary.
I am a devoted father. My children are God’s gift to me and one of my greatest responsibilities. I desire to “manage my family well.”(1 Tim.3:4)
God’s people would do well to pray for me and my family on a regular basis.
My family is my greatest joy, yet also requires constant help and strength from the Lord.
I am a devoted pastor. The church will benefit the most when these priorities are kept. After I have guarded my first three priorities, God, wife, and children, I belong to the church. I am committed to it completely. Studying the Word and praying in order to equip God’s people through preaching, teaching, discipleship, and leadership are of primary importance to me. Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 9:22 about becoming all things to all people so that by all means he might save some. Realistically, no one can meet everyone’s needs or expectations, but this “whatever-it-takes” attitude is necessary for the Pastorate.
Dependent on the Authority of the Word
Paul commanded Timothy to “preach the word.”(2 Tim. 4:2) Without the Word of God I have very little to say, but with it I have everything I need pertaining to life and godliness. My sermons are full of scripture because I am to preach the Word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Bible offers the gift of salvation to any who believe.
The Bible is also our instruction manual. It offers wisdom in the most important areas of life. We go to it to know what God expects out of us. The flesh, the world, and even church culture tries to influence our decisions and impose its expectations on us, but many times we would benefit from quickly returning to God’s Word and asking, “What does God expect?”
Human strength cannot accomplish God’s work, so with the words spoken to Zechariah (4:6) I say it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”
Jesus entered his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1,18)
The church was empowered by the Holy Spirit at its inception. (Acts 1:8, 2:4)
If the Holy Spirit was needed by Jesus and the first church why would anyone think He would be any less needed today?
The baptism in the Holy Spirit should be a requirement for any leader in an Assemblies of God church. (Acts 6:1-5, full of Spirit to wait tables.)
Spiritual gifts should be in operation in an Assemblies of God church. (1 Cor.12, Romans 12:3-6)
As pastor I will welcome the moving of the Holy Spirit in worship. I believe there are times when God is moving on people in such a way that it is necessary to lay aside or postpone our agenda and allow God to minister. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” 2 Corinthians says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” I also believe God’s Word must go forth. Regarding the lost hearing the good news, Paul proclaims in Romans 10:13-15, “how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” The balance of the matter is that whatever is done must be done for the strengthening of the church and in an orderly manner.(1 Cor. 14:26,40)
Able to teach is a biblical qualification for pastors. I believe it is necessary to maintain a teachable attitude as well. I thank God for His Word and for the Holy Spirit who teaches us concerning His Word, but there are a great many situations that require knowledge that is not laid out in scripture. Just as Solomon asked for wisdom, I will continually do the same and I believe God will give it.
The Word never changes, but our methods of conveying the Word may need to change somewhat in order to stay relevant. I believe in using every God-honoring means, method, and resource to equip God’s people for life and ministry.
Being teachable means we ask the tough questions such as, “How effective is this at conveying God’s truth?”
I believe I am a student of life. I marvel at all of God’s creation and enjoy the handiwork of those He created. I can learn from everything. I have had formal education but my greatest education comes from simply experiencing and appreciating life; my life and the lives of others.
Jesus said to “go and make disciples of all nations.”(Matt 28:19) He also said He would equip us with the Holy Spirit to do just that. It is exciting to share in Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost. Evangelism should just come naturally, but realistically it doesn’t always happen that way so thank God for the local church. As a church we not only individually witness and minister, but can combine our efforts and do so through various programs and planned events. Jesus explains how important ministry to the needy is in Matthew 25:31-46. James also exhorts believers to show their faith by their deeds. I do not believe an individual believer or a church fulfills God’s purpose if they are not involved in evangelism and outside ministry.
Relationships are God’s greatest concern. The two greatest commands in scripture are to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.(Mark 12:28-33) God designed us to need each other. At creation God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”(Gen 2:18) The author of Ecclesiastes recognized, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”(Eccl. 4:9, 10) The commands to love God and to love each other cannot be separated. “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”(1 John 4:20b)
Relationships are what build a bridge to the truth. That is why we are to be “speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)” to each other. This does not always come easy, but it is of utmost importance. Love without truth is vain and truth not spoken in love is often times not received. The local church must demonstrate Christ’s love in all that it is and does.
Healthy relationships produce accountability. God’s love does not give a license to sin or excuse sin in the local church. God’s people have a responsibility to “turn a sinner from the error of their way.”(James 5:20)
Relationships within the local church are invaluable. We get to worship together and work together. Simply put, we share life together. If one suffers, everyone else suffers; if one rejoices, everyone else rejoices. Everyone should contribute so that everyone will benefit.
The Greek word from which we get the word pastor means shepherd. What good is a shepherd without some sheep? So you see, we were designed to need each other. As a pastor I will be honored to share in meeting some of those needs.