Last year was the first time in my life I didn’t feel like a young man: I turned 50, my youngest child finished her HSC and my graduating class from Moore Theological College celebrated 20 years from graduation with a two day reunion. The guy in the mirror tells me I’ll soon be an old man, but on the upside, with age comes experience and wisdom. Extensive experience in both Christian ministry and the raising of children. So what’s this soon to be ol’ fella, got to say about the keys to a strong family and ministry? Many shared keys or principles apply to the growing of both effective ministry teams and healthy families.

Over the coming year, I will be looking at one key principle per article.

The first key to raising both a strong family or dynamic ministry team is trust. Trust is built when you ‘walk your talk’ and do what it is you said you would do. People end up trusting you and working well with you if you walk your talk. Does a father do what he said he would do? Does a ministry leader follow through with their commitments? Keeping your word is a significant factor in building trust. Conversely, where one member of a ministry team or family regularly doesn’t keep their word you will find dysfunction, conflict, disharmony and lack of effectiveness. Their personal reputation will suffer, with it a vicious cycle of declining trust in that individual and consequently declining effectiveness in ministry centred around that same individual.

Declaring an intent builds hope; fulfilling your commitment builds trust. This is what happens when a rector tells his youth minister the youth group will have a new table tennis table by June and it arrives in mid-May; or the husband who arranges to meet his wife after work at 7.00pm for dinner and is at the restaurant at 6.58pm; or the employee who agrees to a deadline with her boss for a major report and delivers it a day early; or the son who agrees to do the dishes by 8.30pm and has them clean and dry by 8.25pm even if the score is tied in the footy game on TV; or the father who promises his daughter a trip to the zoo on Saturday and still follows through with that arrangement even though a friend called the night before to offer the father a free ticket to the cricket with a seat in a luxurious corporate box.

When you do what you say you will do, that develops trust, creates harmony, strengthens relationships, elicits joy and builds positive energy. Delivering results flowing through from stated objectives generates further trust, which builds positively back into the ministry team which contributes to future results and even more trust among the team members.

Keep your word even if it costs you in unexpected ways. Keep your word even if another course of action becomes more expedient. Keep your word even if others don’t keep theirs. Harmonious families and strong and effective ministries are made up of people who consistently walk their talk. They are trustworthy people.

What if it becomes clear you won’t be able to do what you said you would do? Sometimes circumstances totally beyond our control prevent us from delivering on our word. If that happens, communicate, and communicate swiftly. Bring others into the loop as to why the future won’t be quite what you said it would be. Do it quickly and openly. That helps others reframe their expectations and keep their confidence in you so you can be a more effective member of a ministry team or loving Christian family.

Do others in your ministry team trust you? Are you utterly dependable for others in your home? Does your “Yes” mean yes, and your “No,” no (James 5:12)?

As children of the Lord we are to be holy as he is holy. One aspect of the Lord’s holiness is that he keeps his word, every time (Joshua 21:45; 23:14, 1 Kings 8:56). That’s why we can completely trust in God. Let’s be like our Lord and be trustworthy. Let’s keep our word, for the benefit of both our families and our ministry teams.

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