The Top Five Guiding Principles for Ministries

A friend of mine recently asked me, “What would you say should be the top five guiding principles for ministries?”

Here’s what I listed, slightly updated to make sense in a blog post. This is off the top of my head, so I wouldn’t say this is comprehensive, and of course every ministry also would have its own principles that express its individual uniqueness and calling. So this is a general, high-level list.

  1. Prayer and the word. Seeking to do all things in God’s power, which comes most as we trust his promises and are built up by his word, and fellowship with him in prayer. This includes asking him for the impossible and being set free from bondage to small dreams.
  2. Radical generosity. This is about others and the church first, not us! We are to be liberal and abundant in using all our resources for the good of others, even at sacrifice to ourselves.
  3. Servant leadership. This includes humble authenticity (not going after position, but becoming the lowest servant; this isn’t about our name but Jesus’ name), and along with this a leadership approach that explicitly seeks to build others up and unleash them, not control everything from the top.
  4. Love. Sort of repeating points 2 and 3, but it’s critical. Related to this is “respect for the individual.” Seeing people, especially employees, as valuable and letting that be the governing principle for how you treat everyone.
  5. Trust. We need to trust our people and be trustworthy ourselves, as trustworthiness is the foundation of trust. Trusting your people is what enables you to lead from values, not detailed rules, and lead in a way that unleashes their creativity and initiative.