Many Christians today are under the impression that in order to be truly effective or useful for the Lord, they need a better education or more credentials or a flashy program to implement or follow. Some perpetually seem to feel that God can only use them if they were to live somewhere else or if their circumstances were different. They often think this is true because so many of the voices clamoring for their attention are in the “religion business” and are desperately seeking to urge discontent or insecure Christians to buy their books, implement their programs, or associate with their church or ministry in order to become the “radical” or “extraordinary” Christian God wants them to be. Consider five things you do not need to be an effective minister of Jesus Christ:

1. You don’t need a fancy title. Being a pastor, seminary professor, or Sunday school teacher does not make you any more usable or effective in the Christian life than those who do not serve in these capacities. The titles that accompany such positions are simply an acknowledgement of one particular way in which God has gifted a person. Most of the godly and faithful men and women chronicled in the Scriptures were not recognized with “titles”—they were merely men and women who endeavored to be faithful to God and looked for opportunities to live out their faith. Regardless of your career or ministry path, you have been gifted by God for service in His church, and He simply wants you to serve Him and minister to others.

2. You don’t need a degree or diploma. A Bible college or seminary degree can certainly be an important part of one’s ministry path, but the piece of paper issued by an educational institution or the letters that follow a name do not give anybody the “upper hand” on faithfulness to God or effective service for Him. God’s Word is written to all people of all educational backgrounds. His clear instructions can be understood and obeyed just as well by a five-year-old child as by a man or woman with a Ph.D. What matters to God is faithfulness, not formal education; obedience, not specialized certification. Be faithful in reading and studying God’s Word and seeking to grow closer to the Lord each day through a better knowledge of Him and His will.

3. You don’t need a program. “If you simply buy this book, attend this seminar, watch this video, or join this ministry, you will gain the keys to unlocking the secrets of living a powerful, effective, victorious Christian life.” Sound familiar? Sadly, this is the message heard throughout Christendom today. Thousands of religious leaders are hoping you will follow them or subscribe to their program in order to truly be the kind of Christian God wants you to be. Yet, again, God simply wants you to be a testimony and ambassador of Christ wherever He has placed you in this life. You need a relationship with Christ. You need to study His Word in order to interpret it properly and apply it accurately to your life and the world around you. You need the body of Christ, the church. You need to yield to the Holy Spirit. It’s really that simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. Don’t blindly follow the “big name” or even the “little name” religious leaders who want you to associate with their programs or subscribe to their “label.” Be who God wants you to be, not who other men or women want you to be.

4. You don’t need to earn your righteousness. Legalism is still a big problem in the professing church today, just as it was in the first century. Too many Christians feel as though they were saved by grace but must continue to earn God’s favor and gain His acceptance by fulfilling a checklist of dos-and-don’ts. Holiness is a vitally important part of the Christian walk, but holiness begins in the heart. We don’t become holy by “doing” the right things; we become holy by “being” a person who is set apart to Christ. This means our priorities will conform to God’s priorities; our attitude will be marked by the “fruit of the Spirit”; our “walk” will be a reflection of our inner man—our heart. We do not earn God’s favor by keeping the traditions of men. Rather, because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we aim to abide in Christ and allow our conduct to reflect our heart.

5. You don’t need to do the extraordinary. Many who grew up in Christian homes and churches have heard or read the stories of the extraordinary feats of missionaries and evangelists of days gone by. Of course, God can certainly do amazing things with men and women who are intent on walking with Him and striving to be faithful to Him. Yet the Bible is replete with examples of average people who simply served God in the seemingly mundane duties of everyday life. God’s Word also provides ample instruction concerning how to serve and honor the Lord in the daily duties of church, home, and work life. Just one simple act can have a profound impact on the life of another person—whether sharing the gospel or exhibiting godly character in a world where civility seems to have become extinct. Seek to glorify the Lord in all aspects of daily life, even if they seem merely routine and ordinary.

Do not be deceived into thinking you do not have what it takes to be an effective minister of Jesus Christ. Every believer is gifted for service in the body of Christ (1 Pet. 4:10), and every believer can be faithful to God and impact others by abiding in Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit in one’s daily walk with the Lord.

— Matt Costella

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