The Key To Ministry Effectiveness

Text: Psalm 133

I recently received a copy of one of my favorite magazines in the mail. When it arrives in our mailbox, I often put life on hold for several minutes to scan the magazine’s content. I noticed in the most recent addition that a lot of conferences for pastors and lay leaders were being advertised. Almost all of those ads were promising the participants greater ministry effectiveness. But then I noticed that something was obviously missing. Psalm 133 talks about the missing element.

This week’s psalm of ascent is “short and sweet,” as we say. But don’t let its brevity fool you. It would be wise to notice the terms and structure that David employs in this psalm.  Read the psalm carefully, because the structure has a cumulative effect.

  • Notice that verses 1 and 3 serve as bookends for the psalm. In verse 1 the word “good” was a synonym for “blessing.” In this case it was the blessing of Jewish brothers living in unity in the land given to them by God. In verse 3 the “blessing” was something commanded by the LORD. So the bookends are referring to the blessings of God. But how does one receive these blessings? Keep reading...
  • Notice that after introducing brotherly unity in verse 1, the psalmist goes on to describe this unity with two vivid metaphor. The first is found in verse 2 where David makes reference to the “precious oil on the head.” The verse refers to this oil as the oil of consecration that was poured over Israel’s priests at the time of their ordination to service. This oil was so special that the priests used it exclusively. Jewish pilgrims singing this psalm on their way to Jerusalem would be reminding one another that they too were all priests before God (cf. EX 19:6).  Israel was to be a kingdom of priests. That was their calling!
  • The second metaphor is found in verse 3a, where David makes reference to the “dew of Hermon.” Mount Hermon had snow caps almost all year round. Its moisture probably didn’t come all the way south to Jerusalem, but it watered the lowlands nearby. It brought prosperity to the fields, thus making some Israelites prosperous for yet another season. But every Jew knew that this prosperity wasn’t a natural phenomenon alone. It was God’s blessing given for the obedience of His people (cf. DEUT 28:1-6). Psalm 133 reminded every Jewish Christian that obedience produced blessing!
  • Finally, notice the last two words of verse 3, “life forevermore.” You might be inclined to think of “eternal life” when you read those words. Yes, it is true that Christ-followers have already inherited eternal life through the finished work of Jesus. But this phrase is most likely referring to “long life!" It is a reference to a life lived effectively before God, doing His will in every way. 

OK, but what’s the point? If Israel was to have “life forevermore,” that is life-long ministry effectiveness, they had to be unified. And the same is true for the members of the Body of Christ, the Church.

Long-term ministry effectiveness is a by-product of living in spiritual unity. 

When we talk about “unity” we are not talking about rallying around a political candidate. And it certainly is not uniting around a specific kind of music or worship format. “Spiritual unity” refers to the union we have with Christ and with other believers. “Spiritual unity” is when Christians join together in declaring that Jesus is Lord, and that we are His people.

How do we practice spiritual unity?

Here are four action steps that may be helpful.

  1. WALK IN THE SPIRIT. Every Christian needs to “walk in the Spirit” (cf. ROM 8:4). This will be a choice we make, whereby we choose to let the Spirit guide our lives through His Word and His daily promptings. We walk with the Spirit instead of trying to control the circumstances around us.
  2. ACKNOWLEDGE GIFTS. Every believer needs to realize that there is diversity in the Church. We all need one another. We all have different gifts and skills. One is not necessarily more important than another. We need one another, and we need to respect one another (cf. 1 COR 12:12-14). 
  3. FORGIVE. Our sinful propensities make us susceptible to pride and hurt. A bitter, vengeful attitude will destroy our ministry effectiveness very quickly. Therefore, we need to choose to forgive people, so that our ministries might have a long-term, positive impact.
  4. SERVE OTHERS. Every believer will want to be open to serving others in the name of Jesus. As we walk by faith, the Spirit will show us needs that others have, needs that we will most likely be prepared to meet.  

I am at a point in my life where I realize I have fewer years to serve King Jesus than ever before. I want to be effective. I want my ministry to have long-term, positive influence. I trust you want the same. If so, make it a priority to live in unity with your Christian brothers and sisters everywhere!

Unity is an absolute essential for long-term ministry effectiveness.

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