“Bringing out the best in people is what I live for,” said Regent University’s School of Divinity (DIV) alumnus James Ward ’13.
He’s been in full-time ministry since 1998. And throughout his vast ministerial experience – leading mega-churches and church plants alike – he’s discovered the key to sharing the Gospel: mentorship.
“It’s tremendously impacted my ministry,” said Ward. “I think Christianity has become commercialized, not character-based. And becoming like the character of Christ is the heart of my ministry. It’s what I endeavor to do on a mentorship basis.”
He strives for his life and ministry to embody the calling in 1 Corinthians 11:1, in which Paul encourages the people of Corinth to be “imitators of Christ.” This, to Ward, encompasses Christ’s character. “Once we imitate the Character of Christ, we’re able to do other things,” said Ward. “That’s the heart of the Great Commission.”
This attitude about ministry, Ward explained, came from his education at Regent. Though he’d already made his mark in the world of ministry, he wanted to learn how to serve more effectively as a spiritual leader.
When he began as a student, Ward was still searching to discover who he was in ministry, his unique gifting, and what it was he was called to share with the body of Christ. But what he received at Regent was beyond what he hoped it would be.
“The quality of people, the student and the staff that I encountered – it challenged me. And I enjoyed every moment of it,” said Ward. “When you get into a graduate school and a post-graduate school, a transformation takes place. At Regent, I received my calling and I was equipped to do what I needed to do.”
Ward serves as the lead pastor of Insight Church, a nearly three-year-old church-plant in Skokie, Illinois with about 75 members.
“We put our kids in the car, we drove north [from Chicago], with no denominational support, no health insurance, and no salary and started a church by faith in an area that really needed a church at the time,” said Ward.
Ward said his church has given him the opportunity to focus on discipleship. Through his discipleship, he learned that there was one quality – victim mentality – that divides believers from becoming all that they can in the Kingdom.
“Honestly, I think that victim-mentality is evidence of character weakness,” said Ward. “When you know who you are, and when you’re confident about God’s love for you, victim mentality begins to dissipate in your life.”
Ward discusses this in his book, ZERO VICTIM: Liberate Yourself from the Mentality of Defeat. Ward explained that Christ, despite dying for humanity, never victimized himself.
“He died for other peoples’ sin, but he never griped. He never complained about it,” said Ward. “And zero-victim mentality is the mentality of Christ.”
Today, Ward uses what he’s learned about the character of Christ –what it entails, and what it doesn’t – to preach to a population he believes needs it the most.
“I think the Lord has called us to the right place at the right time,” said Ward.
Learn more about Regent University’s School of Divinity.