<<area of service, assignment>>
As believers our highest ministry is to the Lord, loving Him with every part of our being (Mk 12:30; Rom 1:1, 12:1,2). Serving God is outworked to our fellow humans, (both those inside or presently outside the Kingdom), through loving, caring, proclaiming, releasing, healing – doing the things that Jesus did. This brings glory to God and is genuine worship (Mt 25:35-45; Mk 12:31; Lk 4:18,19; Act 10:38; 1 Cor 10:31). Our ministry should be an overflow of our hearts, not something we put on – for example, a worship leader should be a worshipper in everyday life, not just leading a performance inside the church setting. Some consider ministry is directed more to believers, while mission is to those outside the church, making converts and discipling, both locally and overseas. Whatever our understanding we need to be actively doing what is at hand to advance His Kingdom rule (Eccl 9:10). Many people are involved in serving in the relative safety of the church but comparatively few are intentionally reaching out with the gospel to those outside Christ.
True ministry is people focused and motivated by love – Matthew 9:35,36
When serving in any ministry bear these questions in mind, what is the motivation, what affect is it having on me personally, will it make a difference for the Kingdom?
Jesus’ ministry – our model
Jesus ministry was characterised by a servant heart and steadfastly adhering to the path marked out for Him by God, this included teaching, preaching, healing and deliverance before dying for us and He said we should follow His example of attending to the needs of others (Mt 4:23,24; Mk 10:45; Lk 9:51; Jn 13:4-17). Giving humble and loving service shows the reality of our faith in actions, not just words to both Christians and non-Christians (Gal 6:10; Jas 2:15-17).
The way in which the Spirit manifests through us to build up the Church is what we call a ministry gift; it should come out of, and be sustained by our ongoing relationship with God but not replace it as a higher priority for then because of pride this will result in our downfall (Ex 20:3-6; 2 Chron 25:19; Prov 18:12; Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:4-30). All ministry should glorify Christ, and not the person through which He is impacting humanity for He will not share His rightful glory with anyone else – it is not by our effort but by the Spirit that true and lasting spiritual fruit results (Jdg 7:2; Isa 42:8; Zech 4:6; Jn 15:4,8,16; 1 Cor 3:5-8). Consider yourself just a servant doing what has been asked of you by the Master, who chooses to work through ‘vessels’ made available for Him – the results are only because of who we are in Christ and the relationship to Him (Lk 10:19,20, 17:10; 2 Cor 4:7). His criterion is a willingness by the person to be available to Him rather than relying on natural ability (1 Cor 1:26-31). Mary, the mother of Jesus said, “I am the Lord's servant, be it unto me as you have said” (Lk 1:38). He will do extraordinary things through people humbly committed to Him. While the Bible mentions some of the higher profile ones (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher), we are all to dispay the fruit of the Sprit and show the grace of God in our interaction with others, encouraging them in their spiritual walk (Eph 4:11-13; Heb 3:13).
There needs to a continual reliance on the Holy Spirit for direction, enabling and anointing so what is done is according to His will and not just a formality or ritual based on what others do (Mt 7:15-23).
Discovering your ministry
Each Christian has the same general call or ministry: to live uprightly before God and others by denying the fleshly lifestyle while sharing Jesus. We have been saved to serve, co-partnering with Jesus (working with, not for Him) to bless humanity, being channels through which He works what He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10, 4:12). What abilities has God endowed us with so we can do ‘God’s work, God’s way, in God’s power with God’s results’?
As we conscientiously endeavour to walk in His ways He will increasingly reveal the unique ministry He has for us, utilizing our spiritual gifts, passions, desires, natural abilities, our individual personalities and life experiences. Ask questions such as, what do I see as a real need? What segment of society or population am I drawn towards? What do I want to change, shape and leave better than I found it? The area we have received the most help and freedom in, is possibly the area we will be most likely to minister in.
Complete the work the Lord has given you – Colossians 4:17
unfolding directions. You will need His help to overcome the chains of fear, past mistakes and the disparaging views of others, plus the determination to persist. Don’t let anything or anyone cheat you out of His unique, individually designed ministry. Establish clear boundaries and accountability (adhering to Godly principles of conduct and allowing others to speak into your life) to protect against Satan’s attacks to destroy your ministry.
Team ministries and practices
While we are to be faithful in our ministry, no one person or ministry group should think they can do it all but they should rejoice that God’s Kingdom is being established through others too (Jn 3:26-30, 4:38; 1 Cor 3:9; Phil 4:3).
Ideally there should be a corporate team ministry, recognizing the dynamics of increased effectiveness with a bigger group, with “one putting 1,000 to flight, two putting 10,000 to flight” as the whole body of Christ functions properly, united in the one great calling and exercising a multitude of expressions and different approaches in fulfilling Christ’s commission to preach the gospel and make disciples (Lev 26:7,8; Deut 32:30; Mt 28:19,20; 1 Cor 3:6, 12:14-31; Eph 4:15,16). Don’t be jealous of another’s ministry – we don’t know the personal sacrifice or effort that it has required. Paul outlined some of the hardships he had experienced, so embrace the difficulties and setbacks as part of His refining process (2 Cor 6:4-10, 7:5-7, 11:23-29). Paul said I press into all that which Christ took hold of me for (Act 9:15; Phil 3:7-14). This was an all-consuming motivation that enabled him to lay aside all that would hinder running the race marked out for him (Heb 12:1).
Within any group of people there will not be agreement on everypoint. It is refreshing to recognise the diverse views of others as this brings a more complete and wholesome balance, however there should be total unity on the essentials of the gospel (1 Cor 1:10; 1 Tim 6:3-5).
Preparation is a vital part to any worthwhile ministry. Prior preparation prevents poor performance. Consider training possibilities or a mentoring relationship. Practically, ‘a man’s gift makes room for him’ (Prov 18:16). Do the ground work to achieve an opening; this ranges from networking to get contacts, volunteering and going beyond what is expected (Mt 5:41).
Pray before you act – both in the big picture, when defining your ministry, and also in the small, daily opportunities to serve. Christian ministry is to be empowered and focused in prayer, coming from an ever-deepening awareness of Jesus Christ and putting Him first regardless of the cost.
We all need to be held accountable, practicing what we preach, so we pass the test and are not cast away, with all our dealings with others above reproach so they can’t say anything bad about us (Mt 23:3; 1 Cor 9:27; Tit 2:7,8; 1 Pet 3:16). Establish and maintain robust boundaries to enable you to always live with integrity, honesty and stability so Satan can't get a foothold into your life to discredit God and you (Jn 10:10; Eph 4:27; 1 Pet 5:8). Once you and your ministry is tarnished it is a long restoration process involving diligent church discipline to regain some measure of the former status.
We are saved for something, not just from something
open more doors for service. As we become ministers to God, we can become effective ministers for God.
God is be our priority in life, followed by our responsibility to those of our own home, so do not neglect your wife and dependent children in the pursuit of your ministry, however seemingly important or successful it may seem to be (Mt 15:5,6; 1 Tim 5:4).
See also: accountability, balance, boundaries, call/calling, gifting, good works, handout/hand-up, minister, mission, missionary, pastor/minister, responsible/responsibility, restitution/restore, service, spiritual gifts, viewpoint.