One thing that people say about me sometimes is that I’m a wise and skilled person. I’ve sought out wisdom, picked up abilities, and honed my crafts. I do well in seminary, get good grades, and people consider me a very able person. There’s no question that abilities and wisdom can be helpful in ministry.

But the Bible urges us to have a different perspective on such things. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.   -1 Corinthians 1:20-24

He urges us to consider all worldly wisdom as foolish, compared to God’s wisdom. He goes even further:

1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.  –1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul says that he refrained from learning how to speak well, purposely shied away from picking up skills, in order to make sure that his message can be attributed to God. He made his priority to know Jesus Christ, especially in his crucifixion, the most important event in history. It is God’s power that makes ministry effective–this comes from knowing Him, not from picking up abilities.

Will I be known as someone who is a skilled minister, or someone who knows and loves Jesus? I am challenged to pursue the latter. That’s what will make ministry powerful. That’s the kind of testimony I want to have.