Monday, October 7, 2019

When Ministry is Dangerous

"Ministry" can be an ambiguous, dangerous word when it describes who I am more than how, or what, I do. As an identity, it compartmentalizes and encapsulates parts of our lives, presuming to represent the whole.

"What is your ministry?"
"How is your ministry?"
"How do you do ministry?"
"What does your ministry look like?"

You hear these questions at the coffee shop, in the church lobby, over the phone, in emails, and at conferences. The questions--and answers--define what you struggle with, how successful you are, how you spend your time and energy: who you are.

It is easy to throw ourselves into the lifestyle and role of "ministry" in an effort to answer questions well, represent ourselves (and God) well, and live a life blessed by God. If we're not successful, we seek to fix what's wrong, worried that we look bad and we've made God look bad--right? (Not right--but right?) If we're not careful, we find ourselves serving "the ministry." How do we know? It drives our thoughts, decisions, sleep (or lack thereof), diet, family time, priorities,  hobbies, relationships, and schedule. Ministry is a dangerous god. Mimicking God's creation and chosen order, it quietly slithers in, sharing intimate space in our thoughts, directing our life.

What if, instead of "ministry," we thought about, spoke and asked about the Lord Jesus? How much more valuable to include others: those who have a job title and those who don't; those who are paid in a ministry position and those who aren't; those who are extrinsically successful and those who aren't.

"How is your walk with the Lord?"
"How has the Lord been using you in His service? Blessing you? Challenging you from His Word?"
"What is the most rewarding part of your relationship with the Lord right now?"
"How has God been convicting you? How is He working in your life?"
"How can I pray with/for you right now?"

It may or may not have anything to do with others and their perception, but it will refocus us on God instead of ourselves. Talking about "ministry" keeps the spotlight off my heart.

What if we were brave enough, courageous enough, to say, "This isn't 'ministry,' this is 'life.' And as He allows, I will fill every last corner of it--every relationship, activity, hour, and accolade--to the edges with a desire to please, honor, and multiply His grace."

"...sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence...." (1 Peter 3:15)

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