DEFINITION: ministry /ˈmɪnɪstri’/ (n.) the spiritual work or service of a Christian
The funny thing about life is that one can never just be stagnant… either you are choosing to minister or you are choosing to not minster. Sometimes ministry opportunities fall right into your lap, designed specifically for you with a plan and a purpose. Other times, you look around and wonder what there is to do and how in the world God will use you. The bottom line is that ministry is not automatic. Ministry does not occur because you move into a new culture. Ministry does not occur because you work for a non-profit. Ministry does not magically transpire because you smile a lot. Ministry does not just happen because of where we are or what you signed up for. Ministry arises when you choose to extend your hand.
As Taylor and I talk over supper, we continue to conclude that God has revealed a choice for us to be still or to go. There is always someone to reach, always some place we can find ourselves that lends itself toward touching another human being. Maybe it means you pack your bags and see where God takes you. Or maybe not. Maybe for you ministry means noticing the student at your child’s school who never seems to have a parent come visit and inviting that child to join you at the special “guest” table in the lunchroom. Maybe it means not just waving and smiling everyday at the janitors from work, but learning about their family and getting to know them. Maybe you can remember your waitress as someone good for more than just food service. Maybe it means treating your coach or teacher or boss like they are a person that you’re happy to see. Maybe it means asking the beggar what his name is and over a strong hand shake telling him how pleased you are to meet him. Maybe, just maybe, it means noticing others around you as more than just the people you pass by each day, friendly as you may be to them. The Lord is teaching us to see all people as children of God with stories that He is writing. How easy would it be to become an integral part of that story for someone?
Write a quick encouraging note. Decide to talk to someone, even when you really just want to sit quietly in solitude (of which I am so guilty!). Jot down a reminder when you hear of important things going on in someone’s life and remember to ask them specifically how it went. Be prayerful in those few minutes we have before the day’s next event... (Instagram is more fun when you haven’t seen it in several hours anyways).
Ministry does not have to be big and designed on paper. It’s not always mapped out as we wish it would be. The greatest opportunities to minister come in remembering to notice and being willing to reach a little. It is always. Constant. A way of life rather than an event in which we participate.
Please know that these words are not written out of the desire to preach a sermon. These words come from the hard truths God has written on my heart in the three and a half months we have been in Africa. He has broken me down. He has shaken my pride, taken me from team captain to benchwarmer and forced me to evaluate the importance of my role no matter my position ....Classic sports analogy from this coach’s daughter! :).
In loneliness God has met me. In pride He has hurt me. In confusion He has answered me. In discouragement He has sent me encouragement. In lies He has spoken truth. And at the end of the day there is always joy when I choose to minister, even when especially when I have to search for the ministry. His Word will not return to us void.
On this side of the world, pray for us as we seek to minister to those beyond our hand-written contract of opportunity. Pray for Bianca and her baby Nazir, pray for Melvin, Ursula, Elverna, Kevin, Shane, Biyatsu, and for the names of many others to become significant to us as well.
We will be prayerful for you also, wherever you are, as you are choosing to minister.
Our God is good ALL the time. Share that with someone today by showing him or her how important they are to you.
"In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." John 1:4