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Practice What You Preach

This article was originally published for Support Raising Solutions by DeNail Sparks.

I was riding with my local campus minister and good friend “Mark” as he raced through traffic to beat the clock and pay his debts “just in time.” It was during this particular excursion that Mark inquired about my plausible future as a full-time minister.

To the best of my ability as a student, I had carefully counted the cost of becoming a missionary and didn’t mind some of the more challenging aspects of ministry. It seemed par for the course to be ridiculed as a Christian or stood up now and then for Bible study or an evangelistic event. Even as a person of color, the pain of being castigated for not focusing on my own community wasn’t enough to deter me from honestly considering life as a full-time campus minister. However, when it came to the idea of building of my own financial partnership team, I had second and third thoughts.

So, when at a stoplight, Mark urged me to consider full-time ministry, before the light turned green my answer was an easy “No.” Why? Because the same precious people who excellently preached the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to me, served as poor examples of His provision through ministry partnership development (MPD).

The thought of living the way some of my missionary friends lived elicited flaming objections from my soul. The call to full-time ministry simply wasn’t enough for me to choose MPD; I needed people around me who “walked the walk not just talked the talk” of God’s provision.

Today, as a full-time, fully funded minister, practicing what I preach is indispensable because I don’t want anybody to hesitate or question their ability to obey God because of my example.

Practicing what I preach is challenging at times because some days I don’t feel like practicing or preaching anything! But when I think of what it means to those around me and those yet to come, I change my attitude, get up and get moving.

Four Thoughts about Practicing What You Preach in MPD:

Practicing what you preach produces freedom.

What would happen if your personal example (attitude, actions and what you say about MPD in your ministry) was held up as the golden standard to live by? Would the way you model MPD attract or repel? My prayer is that your standard would free the individuals around you to say “yes” to full-time ministry through MPD.

Practice what you preach by facing your “mirrors.”

“Most people judge others by their actions and themselves by their intentions.” –Dr. Edwin Louis Cole

My most precious friends and confidants are “mirrors” to me because I find it difficult to set a good example all by myself. My “mirrors” show me what I really look like, they identify my blind spots and refuse to let me just “pass by.” My mirrors look at my numbers, challenge my bad habits and lovingly correct me from time to time. Is there someone in your ministry life who can reflect you to you and help align your actions with your intentions?

Practicing what you preach means that you’re a “work in progress.”

MPD is not simply a training, class or a season; it’s a lifestyle. So no matter where you are in your MPD journey, you can get better! It’s okay to be a work in progress! The MPD lifestyle doesn’t just happen, it’s intentional. Keep learning, keep engaging the Lord and keep practicing because your success in MPD will have benefits and rewards far beyond your personal ministry.

Practice what you preach because the future is watching.

“My children may not always follow my instructions, but they never fail to imitate my example.” – Anonymous parent

Those considering full-time support raising ministry just want to know if MPD can really be done. Though many haven’t come forward or identified themselves yet, the next generation of ministers are keeping a close eye on our attitude, actions and what we say about MPD. I’m motivated to practice what I preach by the fact that how I live speaks louder than what I say.

Let’s face it, for better or worse, we’re all setting an example of some kind. Through consistent application, trial, error and trial again, we get better every day! As you engage new thinking, habits and attitudes; may the future ministers around you say “yes” to all God has for them as they follow your example.


This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions.  Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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