Excellence In Ministry

Featuring Heath Jarvis Posted on May 4, 2009

When I was in high school I was very involved in music.  I played in our school's Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band and sang in the Symphonic Choir.  I took private lessons.  I gave private lessons.  I played in our church, and traveled to other churches and played.  I played in a high school honors band and spent a summer touring with a Christian tour group.  I played secular jazz gigs, attended workshops, seminars and clinics.  Are you getting the picture?  Music consumed me.

At that time, I knew I wanted to make music my career.  I told God, "I'll do anything you want, Lord.  But I won't go to Bible College, and I won't be a church music director."  As you may have already guessed, I've done both.  But the reason I didn't want to be a church music director, originally, was because with all of the musical things I had done, church music seemed to have the least amount of excellence.  And I wanted to do something great for God.  Later, God birthed in me a desire to bring that same excellence to His church!

Having said all that, let me say that excellence in ministry should be one of our primary goals, both in ourselves and in the churches we minister to.  We need to communicate the importance of ministerial excellence as a tool for effective ministry.

I've heard people say, "It doesn't matter how talented or gifted a person is as long as they're anointed.  After all, it's the Anointing that destroys the yoke and lifts the burden, not someone's talent."  I agree that it is the Anointing that will set people free.  But I believe that excellence will help the Anointing get its job done.  Let me explain why.

Jesus was the most anointed person to walk the face of the Earth.  He walked in perfect unity with God, never straying from Him.  He said (paraphrased), "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father.  Because everything He tells me to do, I do."  Jesus walked in the Anointing without measure, all the while remaining sinless.  Yet even He could do no great thing in His home town of Nazareth because of the people's unbelief.  They did not see Him as the Son of God, but as a simple carpenter's son...a boy they watched grow up...perhaps a boy that some of them babysat...perhaps someone that fixed their roof once.  Whatever the case, they viewed Him as just another ordinary person.  His ineffectiveness in Nazareth wasn't Jesus' fault, He was perfect!  It was just that the people couldn't receive from Him because of how they viewed Him.

It doesn't matter how much of an Anointing you walk in if people can't receive the Anointing that you have.  Even Jesus could do no great work in Nazareth.  Excellence is something that will enable the Anointing that you have to be received by others.  When people see that you care enough about what you do to do it to the very best of your ability, they will more readily receive from you.

One interesting thing about excellence and its relationship to the Anointing is how the world views both.  The world doesn't understand the Anointing.  They may sense it, but they don't understand what it is.  But they do understand excellence.  They can tell when something has been done in a spirit and attitude of excellence.  This is another reason that I say that the Anointing, in and of itself, is not enough for effective ministry.  It must be accompanied by excellence to fulfill its potential.

Having stated my thoughts on excellence and the Anointing, let me define these two terms so that we are all on the same page:

•    Anointing - The Power of God that is infused into the Believer to carry out the work of the ministry.  It is the yoke-destroying, burden-lifting Power of the Holy Spirit that God wants us to walk in.  There are different types of Anointings for different needs.  There are also varying degrees of these Anointings that Believers can walk in.  But ultimately, it is the Power of God at work in us that enables us to carry out His work in the earth.  

•    Excellence - Doing everything you can to ensure that every aspect of your ministry is able to be easily received by the people you are ministering to.  Excellence requires us to give our best to God and His people.  To carry out His work to the best of our ability, all the while asking for His ability to be at work in us.  Excellence allows the Anointing that is on your ministry to flow to the people you minister to because they more readily receive it.  It is then (when they receive it) that we will see their yokes destroyed and their burdens lifted, thus giving God the glory because of His Power to save, deliver, and heal.

When you think about it, excellence just boils down to one thing...attention to detail.  When you are doing everything you can do to make sure every aspect of your ministry is able to be well received, it really means that you just took the time and effort to work out the little bugs.  In most ministries (not all) the big bugs are pretty much non-existent.  But it's when we tackle the seemingly "insignificant" things that people take notice.

How is your praise and worship team dressed?  Are all the men's ties on straight?  Are their shoes shined?  Is there a run in one of your singers' hose?  If your church uses overheads for displaying song lyrics, are all of the words spelled correctly?  Are all of the words in your church bulletin spelled correctly?  Is the grammar correct?  If your Pastor prays for people after he preaches, does he put in a breath mint before praying for them?  After all, preaching (and singing) can give you bad breath.  Is there anything about your ministry that can allow distraction?  If there is, take care of it!  That's what excellence is all about...having enough attention to detail to take care of the "little" things that can become a distraction to people.

Excellence in ministry is important because most people are petty (please don't write me any nasty letters because of that comment).  I've heard of people leaving churches because they didn't like the color of the wallpaper in the bathroom, or because the platform was decorated with plastic flowers instead of real ones.  The littlest things can keep people from entering into worship.  It's usually the stupid, petty things that people leave churches over.  The problem is that most of the time we're willing to let them go, saying that if people want to leave over something that petty, we're better off without them.  What God wants is for us to meet them where they are at, just like He met us where we were at when He saved us.

Pay attention to the "little" things in your ministry.  You can bet that other people are.  After all, God's Word tells us to be all things to all people.  Your attention to detail will make your ministry more readily received by your congregation.  Instill this need for excellence in your team.  Excellence is contagious.  I can guarantee it will spread to the other areas of ministry in your church.  Our churches should be setting standards of excellence for the world to follow, not the other way around.