People Aren’t the Problem



“The ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people!” This is a sentiment that is occasionally thought or said (usually in a half-joking manner) by some people in the ministry.
Though it may be said tongue-in-cheek, it expresses a real barrier to effective ministry. The ministry is people – we don’t minster to building, cities, or places; we minister to people.


If we don’t have a heart for people, time for people, or love for people, we will never be able to do real ministry. Ministry that only uses people is not real ministry. We should not use people to building our ministry, we should use “the ministry” to build people.


I was confronted with this reality many years ago. I wanted to ask a young man to help me with our church’s website. When I spoke with his father about it, he asked me, “Why do you want him do it? Do you have a plan for how this will help my son or are you just going to use my son to get some work done?”


That was a convicting question – one that I am not sure I had a good answer for! Frankly, at that time, I was just thinking that I needed to get people involved in the ministry (which is true), but my motivation was not what it should have been. I was thinking more in terms of how my load could be lightened, how this would help the church to grow, etc. I was not really thinking of the young man’s potential, growth, and development.


So what does this mean for us as we minister and for young people who want to get involved in the ministry? Here are few suggestions that might help you:


  • Develop your walk with God. The more you love God, the more you will love people. The Bible is quite clear that genuine love for God will be expressed in loving others. As you get in God’s Word every day and spend time in prayer, God will show you the pride and selfishness in your own heart that keeps you from loving and serving others.
  • Learn to value people. Get ahold of the truth that people and their souls are the eternal things you deal with all day. Long after this earth and all it contains has passed away, people will remain in heaven or hell for all eternity. To invest in the life of a person is to invest in eternity.
  • Learn to love people. Love is far more practical than the media or our culture would like us to believe. Love is more than and emotion or a feeling. Love is more of a verb than a noun. God of course models the right kind of love when He manifested His love to us through Christ’s death on the cross. So to love people, we must act. We must think loving thoughts, do loving, selfless things, give sacrificially, and invest deeply. Amazingly, the more we act loving, the more emotions will follow.
  • Learn to listen and spend time with people. It has been said that love is spelled T-I-M-E. You can’t love those that you don’t want to spent time with or want to listen to. Before people are willing to let you teach them, disciple them, or train them, they want to know that you genuinely care about them and have their best interests at stake. They become more aware of this as you are willing to give them time and to listen to them.
  • Work on your currently relationships. If you can’t get along with people now, how will you get along with people who you try to minister to in the future. If people don’t like you now or want to be around you now, then chances are that they won’t want to come to your church, listen to you preach, or let you help them grow spiritually. You will only be more tomorrow of what you are today, so work on your relationships and people skills today.
I hope this helps you as you think about future ministry. I hoped that you will learn to like, love, and enjoy being with people. I hope you will learn to value people and thinking now about how you can use them to accomplish your goals but about how you can help them be a success to carry out God’s will and plan for their lives.


So often, we blame all the problems on other people, when often the real problem is us. We have the wrong attitude towards others. We see them as problems, as hindrances, as obstacles, or as people to be used. Those are all wrong attitudes – and if we have these wrong attitudes, then people are not the problem – we are!
About the author

Travis has been a church planter to the United Kingdom since 2002 and also serves as the Europe Field Director for Vision Baptist Missions.
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