Any discussion of ministry inspires a certain amount of passion in the church. Differing perspectives become readily apparent regarding the definition of ministry, its nature and sphere of responsibilities and its structure. The question of expectations also engenders substantial debate. That ministry remains a lively topic of conversation and an important concern within the church is confirmed by the fact that it has been chosen as the topic of our Leadership Conference this year and that you are participating in this Conference. I have been invited to address the theme of excellence in ministry in light of Martin Luther's theological and practical insights, and I very much appreciate the invitation and the opportunity to do so. The Reformer is not only one of the most creative and influential theologians in the history of the church, he pursued his own ministry for more than four decades, most of that time as an ordained clergyperson. During these years he formulated his doctrine of ministry and reflected creatively and honestly on his own ministry, on that of his colleagues and opponents and on the ministry of all of God's people. His theological perspectives, experientially informed proposals and practical example have impacted the doctrine and practice of ministry within the Lutheran community since the Reformation. Indeed, many of his ideas have also been affirmed and implemented within other ecclesiastical traditions. Hence, this exploration of Luther's perspective is warranted, for the Reformer continues to provide the church with theologically astute and creative insights.