It is important to consider the way Jesus recruited, trained and empowered His disciples for ministry. Anderson (1979) tells us, “There is only one ministry – it is the ministry of Christ. All other ministry is rooted in this ministry . . .” (p. 137). Ministry does not end with the ascension of Christ because Jesus prayed, “As thou sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18). Our success in ministry is dependent upon heeding to His words, “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
Recruitment for Ministry
Spirituality and educational qualifications are major determining factors in recruiting personnel for ministry today. Jesus used a different measure. To the lowly fishermen He commanded, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). He has the ability to mould people and to help them reach their potential. White (1940) puts it this way, “God takes men as they are, with the human elements in their character, and trains them for His service . . . They are not chosen because they are perfect” (p. 294).
Jeremiah clarifies it further, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5). The text implies that God has a purpose for every human being that He creates. However, His purpose comes to play only if people choose to follow His will.
When He called the twelve they were unlearned but He worked with them until they were qualified. White (1940) continues, “All the disciples had serious faults when Jesus called them to His service . . . They continued to the end . . . to learn the lessons of His life. By beholding Christ, they became transformed in character.” (pp. 295-296).
Training for Ministry
The most powerful textbook that Jesus used in training His disciples was His own life. After training them He gave them a “graduation speech” at the last supper table. He said to them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). Jesus ‘walked the talk’ (Templar, 2003).
Empowering for Ministry
Empower Through Education
Empower Through the Holy Spirit
Empower Through Self-worth
Hoehl (2008) makes the following observation, “Jesus empowered His disciples in John 21:1-25 by building their confidence and enhancing their sense of self-efficacy.” Three times He asked Peter whether he loved Him and three times He “empowers Peter by reinstating him after his denial of Jesus. As Peter affirms his love for Him, Jesus assigns him greater responsibility in advancing God’s kingdom on earth” (p.15). He continues to say that this “demonstrates Jesus’ desire to give His disciples opportunities to be successful and build their ministerial confidence and self-efficacy” (p. 15).
Jesus went against the tradition of the day when He as a religious teacher chose Matthew a publican to be among the 12. Matthew’s self-worth was restored by the words of Jesus, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt 9:13). Hoehl (2008) advises, “Contemporary leaders can benefit from Jesus’ example of developing His disciples’ sense of confidence and self-efficacy” (p. 15)
Empower Through Equipping
Before Jesus left His disciples He promised, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12). He gave them a feel of what they were capable of doing when empowered by the Holy Spirit. He called the 12 together and gave them authority to preach and to, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Matt 10:7-8).
Empower Through Prayer
Jesus empowered His disciples by giving them the gift of prayer. His ministry on earth was driven by prayer. He started and ended it with prayer (Matt. 4, John 17). It was His custom to go out “Very early in the morning . . . to a solitary place where He prayed.” (Mark 1:35) for Himself, for His disciples and for the church (John 17).
Jesus and the Family
Jesus had strong family ties. He spent about 30 years confined to a family and three years in His public ministry as if to underline how much value He places in family life. He taught His disciples to address God as “Our Father in Heaven” (Matt 6:9). After He ascended to Heaven the disciples came together to pray along with His mother, and brothers (Acts 1:14). James His brother became the leader of the early church (Acts 15:13). Paul identifies Him as our brother (Heb 2:17) whom we can approach with confidence (Heb 4:16). In Rev 1:5 Jesus calls Himself “the firstborn from the dead.” He goes on to encourage His followers to be faithful and to look forward to a crown of life” (Rev2:10).
Paminus Machamire is a Seventh-day Adventist Pastor who currently serves as a Vice President of the Southern Africa -Indian Ocean Division
This article is excerpted from A Project Proposal Presented in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirement for the Degree Doctor of Ministry by Paminus Machamire June, 2010
White, E. G. The desire of ages. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1940.
Templar, R. The rules of work. London: Pearson Education, 2003.
Hoehl, S. (2008). Empowering by Jesus: A Research Proposal for an Exploration of Jesus’ Empowerment