Some Obvious Marks of a Grace-Oriented Minister (Charles Swindoll)
Characteristics of those who are truly ministers of grace:
Generosity with personal possessions (Acts 4:32-35). This abundance of grace prompted an outpouring of generosity. And the result? “There was not a needy person among them”! An atmosphere of grace is characterized by an absence of selfishness.
Encouragement in unusual settings (Acts 11:19-23). Grace is what keeps a person flexible and willing to adapt. One of the adaptations the Jerusalem church had to undergo was taking the gospel beyond strictly Jewish racial boundaries to reach the Gentiles. Instead of an all-Jewish congregation, Barnabas saw a church filled with Gentiles praising the Savior. He saw grace at work, and he applauded it. And he modelled grace in his response of adapting and giving encouragement in what was for him an unusual situation.
A life that’s lived beyond the letter of the law (2 Cor. 3:5-6). A grace awakened minister doesn’t bash believers with the Bible or wag dogmatic finger at the people in the pews. The minister of grace is one living under the freedom of the new covenant – not under the constraints of the old. The ministry of grace, according to Paul, doesn’t depend upon our own adequacy, but upon authenticity. It emphasizes personal relationships and exhibits the importance of a servant mentality. It’s important to be committed to the truth of God’s Word, but that must be balanced with grace toward people. Our goal is not to be faster than a computerized concordance; our goal is to be like Jesus, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, 17).
Liberty for creative expression (2 Cor. 3:17). In your ministry do you really allow freedom for creative expression? Do you restrict various forms of expression in worship, or is your love stronger than liturgy?
The ability to release from past failures (1 Tim. 1:12-14). Violence and blasphemy checkered Paul’s past, but grace was available in such abundance that though his sins were as scarlet, they became white as snow (Isa. 1:18). Consequently, when Paul talks about his past, he isn’t airing dirty laundry; he’s hanging out white linen for everyone to see the cleansing power of God’s grace. The same is true for us. No matter whether our past is stained with sexual sin, darkened by divorce, or discoloured from addictions, the detergent of grace is tougher than any stain that soils our lives.
Marching Orders to All Ministers of Grace
Shortly before he died, Paul, the apostle of grace, urged Timothy, “My son, be strong in the grace is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Model it. Teach it. Demonstrate it.
If we are to build the church that will withstand the heat in this life and the refining fire of judgment in the next, it can’t be built by our own might and power. If it is, it will ultimately collapse under its own weight. If it is to stand the test of time and eternity, it must be built – from the foundation to steeple – on truth and grace.
Lifted from The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll, pp. 100-103