In the gospels, John the Baptist had shown us the weight of ministerial work. In what would take a lifetime experience, looking at John’s brief ministry we can learn alot, that can help us in our own church and ministry. Here’s seven lessons we can learn from John the Baptist. For an in depth treatment of John, head over to this link.
He had one message to preach- (Matthew 3: 1,2; Mark 1:4) In our time when Christians are reaching people through blogs, Youtube videos, podcast, Zoom webinars and Facebook Live, we should make clear what is our main goal. That is, we should preach the gospel. This is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But a few years before Jesus gave this monumental task to His disciples, John was already preaching the gospel. We can be busy in every aspect of our ministry but we shouldn’t forget our message.
“John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” — Mark 1:4 (CSB)
We as believer are carrying a message. The message is not about us, our church or denomination. Nor programs, methods, traditions or music. Our sole message is Christ and Him crucified. Our message is the most important message that everyone should hear. So lets be clear and proclaim it in our ministry.
He clearly knows who he is and his role (Matthew 3: 3; Matthew 3: 11)
When ask who is he is and who gave him authority to perform him his works, he response is sure and clear:
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:
A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight!”–Matthew 3:1–3 (CSB)
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” — Matthew 3: 11 (CSB)
Not only does he know who he is and his role but he knows his only duty he needs to perform. Having no clear path to take shouldn’t be the mark of our ministry. In the midst of this multi-tasking culture, the church should not follow. John is specifically doing one thing and that counts.
Also leaders sometimes look at their ministry for identity or purpose. Sadly this is an erroneous way of knowing who they are and will leave us devastated when we go through hard times. Focusing on Christ and learning it from the Bible will not only save us from heartbreaks but gives us clarity and direction.
Fading from the spotlight for Jesus.
In the our times were celebrity pastors, and worldwide ministry abound, it’s humbling to see this voice in the wilderness to let go of his ministry over the one who need to be magnified. John the Baptist can say that its not about me, it’s about Christ. How about you, can you say the following verse and look at our ministry if the passage applies to you?
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” — John 3: 30 (CSB)
A Christian should ask these questions: Is Jesus in the spotlight rather than us?Is our title, position or achievement in our ministry hinders people to see Christ and His works? Are we willing to lose everything even the ministry itself just to magnify Christ? Are we point people to Christ and not to our leaders, authors, pastors or churches?
It’s not about the numbers or achievements. It’s all about Christ. (John 1: 35-37, John 4: 1-2)
What is the measure of success in the ministry? Is it the numbers of member or converts you garnered?Is it the number of churches you planted? Is it the achievements that you have reached for God? Thankfully that is not how God looks at success. Nor does John the Baptist:
“The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus.”–John 1: 35-37 (CSB)
“When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard he was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were),” — John 4:1–2 (CSB)
For John, what really matters in his ministry is Christ. Let God give you the increase (or decrease) but focus on how to be loyal to our King.
We are to correct people from false teachings (Matthew 3: 7-10)
False teachings are dangerous to the soul. Teachings that are clearly against the Bible will lead people to hell. One of the false teachings in that time that John the Baptist targeted is that the Jews are OK with God because they are descendants of Abraham. John rebukes them and points them to the true gospel that will save them.
“When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:7–10 (CSB)
What are the false teachings that you read over Twitter or Facebook? Do you know church leaders that leading people astray because of their message that goes contrary with the Scripture? It’s time to stand up and expose their works of darkness.
Calling out moral ills of society (Matthew 14: 3-5)
Likewise, as we correct false teachings that are rampant today, we are to stand for the principles of the Bible regarding morality. We should fearlessly tell our society that they are on the path of destruction. Are you willing to rise up against social ills of the day?
“For Herod had arrested John, chained him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, since John had been telling him, “It’s not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to kill John, he feared the crowd since they regarded John as a prophet.” –Matthew 14:3–5 (CSB)
Doubt is real! (Matthew 11: 2-6)- In one of the darkest time of John the Baptist, he sent his disciple to Christ asking if He indeed the Messiah. In the ministry we can find our dark moments. We as Christians are not immune to it. There will be trials and temptations. In the midst of the gloomy days we walk, we try to make sense of what is happening. We have lots of questions not just on ourselves but also our ministry. This is what John is facing as he was in prison and waiting his impending end. Are you going through tough times? Does anxiety and stress overwhelms you? Look at what John did as doubt covers his time in prison:
“Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”–Matthew 11:2–6 (CSB)
We shouldn’t minimized what we experience in those times of darkness. It wont do us good if we dismiss and sweep it under the rug. However in the other hand, we shouldn’t let it overwhelm us that it stops us from our tracks. Answers can be found by seeking fellowship with our fellow Christians. Ultimately, we can find an enduring peace for our soul as we go to Christ.