Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about ministry.
I think of it more often than I used to, since I have children . How can a failing human like me, be the kind of example that my children need?
What do my children see in my life, that would make them want to turn to Jesus? I pray that they see love , and caring, and honesty. I want them to see maturity. God forbid they see the inconsistencies that I can see in myself…
But wait. If they see only the perfect, and not the real, will they really be encouraged? Or will they feel they could never measure up, and turn away, hopeless.
Should they see that I have to go running back to Jesus over and over, asking him to remove the bitterness and resentment from the offenses of years ago? If I cover up my failures, they might think I’ve got it all together. But if I’m open, and share my struggles, and testify that Jesus is sanctifying me, won’t that be more encouraging?
I think of ministry, in regard to my friends who aren’t Jesus-followers. Just like my children, they won’t be inspired to follow Jesus, if I portray an unrealistic perfection.
They may judge me if I let them see the real me… the friend who’s better at talking than listening…the wife who sometimes has no patience with her husband in the craziness of farm life. The mom who sometimes snaps at her babies for being babies, and then cries because they are growing up so fast. The mom who “doesn’t have time to build block houses,” and then spends 45 minutes on Pinterest, trying to decide what to make for dinner or how to organize the toy room…
If I dare to show them the real me, yes, they might judge, and say that I’m inconsistent, immature, imperfect… Guess what? They wouldn’t be wrong. Would that be so bad?
If people can realize that as a Christian, I’m still 100% human, and if they can observe that- through Jesus- I’m making progress, won’t that be more inviting to them, than some false impression of saintly perfection?
With an upcoming ordination in our local circle of fellowship, it seems like a heaviness is on our hearts. A seriousness, a concern for the future of the congregation, a deep soul searching within the hearts of each individual, and just more interest in the things of God.
When we get together with our friends, conversation more quickly turns from the casual chit chat, “How is your garden? Isn’t the rain a blessing?” -to deeper questions- “Who will it be? How will the church change due to their influence? How will we support them?”
As I think of the qualifications in the Bible for ministers, I think they are mostly qualifications for Christians. If I look at my life and think I would make a horrible ministers wife, then doesn’t that kind of say I’m really bad at being a human? Just saying.
I wonder too, if we allow enough room for humanity, when we consider candidates for nomination. One might look at a brother and say: “He’d be great, but oh dear… his wife. I wouldn’t want her to be trusted with all the ins and outs and information of the church.”
Really? What about Jesus’ power to change people? Don’t you think anyone would be taking a long look at their life if their husband were nominated? Is there one of us who wouldn’t have things we need to work on? Because qualifications for a ministers wife… they should apply to any Christian woman.
God has the power to take anyone, refine them, and make them shine for Him. A man may have great spiritual insight, but lack the gift of public speaking. I don’t think that is a disqualification. God can work wonders with anyone!
Moses wasn’t a gifted speaker, but God used him mightily. Jeremiah, when he was called, said “Ah, Lord God, behold, I can not speak.” And God replied, “Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth… whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” And speak he did! (52 whole chapters later, we have one of my favorite books of the Bible.)
What is the meaning of ministry? Here are some meanings of ministry, as it is referenced in the Bible.
(1) discipleship in general. Following Jesus and showing love to others. (John 12:26, John 13:35)
(2) service rendered to the church because of the gifts bestowed, and hence, all kinds of service.
We all have gifts. Not all the same gifts, but each is individually given his/her unique gifts and talents.
(3) specifically the “ministry of the Word” and most frequently the “apostleship” (Ephesians 14:11-12)
(4) such services as feeding the poor or providing for their needs.
We are all called to show compassion on those with needs around us.
So, who is called to ministry? As I see it, it’s you and me, and everyone else who is a Christian. Of course I don’t see myself on a podium, preaching God’s word, but I can minister in so many other ways.
One that I have been thinking on recently, is ministering to our “ministry.” They pour so much time and effort and love into their congregation, and what do they get in return? (I know, some of you are already doing this, but the rest of us need to jump on board and support them.)
If they pour and pour, out of their generous hearts, and into us, but no one is pouring into them, they can become burned out, or “dried up.” But if we support them in prayer, reach out to them personally, thank them for giving up their own lives to serve the body, how much lighter will their load be?
Perhaps if we’d all consider that we too are called to minister, our “ministry” won’t have such a heavy load.
I don’t know who the new minister will be, but I hope we will not expect more perfection from him (or his wife) than we are able to exemplify in our own lives. I hope that I will be able to be an encourager, and not a critic. That I can build deeper convictions in my own life, instead of inspecting theirs, and applying double standards.
One of my favorite quotes says “You can never inspire someone else to a deeper level of Godliness than you possess.” I don’t know who said this, but it seems profound to me.
My wish is that I myself might never stop growing in Godliness, and that as I grow, I may be more and more equipped to encourage others.
Happy weekend. Thank your minister, hug his wife, and be blessed. 🙂