Ministry In The New Year Revolves Around One Word: MANNERS
One thing I love about living in the South is that most people still have manners! Since moving here a few years ago, I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Yes sir", "How can I help you sweetie?", "Do you need anything?", and "Let me get that for you!". The stereotype that people in the South have manners is true, at least for most of them. The kindness of the South surprised me because people do not typically act that friendly from where I moved from out West. There was nice people, but there seemed to be more people that were downright rude. They would close the door on you, even if you were right behind them, cut you off on the road, leave trash on the ground right in front of you, and the list goes on. The atmosphere out in the West is vastly different than what I have experienced in the South. I honestly believe people lost the motivation to care about the people around them, so they gave up, and that is what caused them to act that way. Whatever you think the reason is, there is a noticeable difference in a person's manners based off of where they are from and where they live now. Say what you want, but it's just a fact!
The word of the year when it comes to a successful ministry and life that makes a difference for Christ is manners. Before you jump to conclusions, allow me to clarify what I mean. If you look at Christ's ministry in the New Testament, you will see that He treated everyone with respect, but at the same time, He wasn't shy about "turning over a table or two". He would sit down at a table with sinners and treat them with dignity. He would kneel down at a well and love on the most unlovable women. He held the lepers, He ate with the sinners, and He befriended the outcasts. He gave an example of how to have manners. Yet, we see at times, that He was willing to give people the honest truth. He called the religious leaders pretty gnarly names, flipped over tables in the temple, and chased a few of them out of the temple. When Jesus acts in this way, we question whether or not Jesus had manners and extended grace at all times. However, I believe that is the key to effective ministry in 2023: knowing when and where to apply manners. Didn't Solomon say, "There is a time and season for every activity under heaven?" in Ecclesiastes 3? Jesus embodied this idea in His earthly ministry and showed us a better way to minister to people.
My whole point in sharing this thought is to encourage you to use manners at the right time and in the right way. I have encountered too many Christians that are way too nice all the time, and this results in them getting walked all over by others. On the other hand, I have encountered Christians who are only interested in setting people straight, "flipping over tables", and making a bold stand for righteousness. They feel that they are "right in their own eyes". True partnership with the Holy Spirit doesn't mean you are too nice or too honest. Manners looks like having a balance of both aspects as a part of your lifestyle. This means learning to apply manners to those who don't deserve it while simultaneously giving the ugly and honest truth to those who deserve it. It takes discernment to know when and where to offer grace while also being courageous enough to take a strong stand for truth. My prayer for all of us is that we learn manners the way that Jesus had manners. As ministers, I pray that you know when to apply manners to help hurting people and when to courageously set them aside when the situation warrants it. With that said, will you be remembered for the balance of having manners?
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