EPHESIANS 4:11-14 CSB
And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
SO... WHAT IS MINISTRY?
So many opinions.
So many objections.
So much criticism.
So much cynicism.
In times like these, many people are questioning what ministry really is. Still others, have the term “ministry” all boxed up and defined as what they see it as being. But… what does the Lord call ministry? Is it only this way or that; or is God’s idea of ministry simply to be a faithful, loyal servant who does His will so that others can benefit from the messages or services rendered?
Whether large or small, professional or amateur, community or private – all ministry has value because this world is full of hurting and confused people with diverse backgrounds and innumerable needs. All communication or acts of service that are meant to help someone rise to the next level (whether it be in their thinking or in their everyday life) is part of the great commission.
The purpose of this article is to take a deeper look into the thoughts, intents, and godly mandates of those who, perhaps, seem radical in the eyes of onlookers who don’t understand the full magnitude or multifaceted ways of ministry. I’ve always said, “ministry is messy.” That’s why so many try to package it so nice and neat on Sunday mornings.
The sad truth is that most of humanity has hidden struggles, pain or dysfunctions that can only be healed through uncomfortable conversations, deep-seated worship, deliverance, or extreme proclamations. Putting tight restrictions on certain administrations of ministry or gifts of the Spirit can not only keep the Holy Spirit of God from changing someone’s eternal destination, but it can also hinder healing, wisdom, reconciliation and so much more.
Love is manifested in many ways. Sometimes, love is gentle. Other times, love is abrupt – kind of like rescuing someone who is drowning, in such case there is no time for worrying about what they’ll think about your opinion, your swimsuit or your hair color. The need is to save someone’s life and nothing else matters at that moment in time. I like to think of my ministry as all of the above. Sometimes gentle. Other times, abrupt. Always seeking God for direction and wisdom concerning the mission of the moment. Because when it all boils down, ministry is not about me or my reputation or my organization – MINISTRY IS ABOUT HIM; and He cares for all people! (Jude 1:23)
It’s no secret that most people float downstream, enjoying the pleasure of mindlessness as they avoid controversial matters of life. The called, chosen and faithful are not satisfied – they are compelled to go the other way. When the Lord calls, it is usually against mainstream and may seem radical to those who aren’t acquainted with rowing upstream. Likewise, a divine calling is unique to the recipient and, quite often, a heavy burden. God-sized assignments are typically bigger than anyone would dare to ask for on their own. In fact, over and over in scripture we see God giving assignments to common people who, perhaps, seem unqualified, feel unworthy or who are so confounded by the task that they may even run from it.
I dare say that those in ministry are challenged everyday as to whether they will say, or do precisely what God told them to (verses saying or doing a watered-down version of what they heard Him say). God’s assignments take faith. He is a supernatural God who asks us to participate in His supernatural Kingdom. So, when the world (and perhaps even the church) is comfortable in their business-as-usual activities or thought processes and a messenger from God shares what he or she heard the Lord say, the messenger is often met with resistance instead of applause.
We are living in times of great confusion, unprecedented deception, and rampant discord. Matthew 24:4 states that in the last days we need to be sure we are not deceived. Unfortunately, people have taken that verse to mean what they want it to mean. Rather than diligently seeking truth in a room full of lies, so many rely on the old manna of truth that is not fresh from the throne of God in this dispensation of time. God is always talking. He is always giving us a new perspective so that we can navigate unchartered waters. Truly, we are living in days of unknown certainty concerning day-to-day living, political matters and moral standards. Up is said to be down. Down is supposed to be up. It seems the world has gone mad.
I’m not saying that the gospel or the great commission has changed. What I am saying is that the gospel and the great commission now have a new facet of darkness to penetrate. Well, it’s not really new, but to us it may seem new now that the veil has been removed. It’s no secret that since 2020 evil has been unveiled for all to clearly see. There is no avoiding the elephants in the room any longer. Everyone sees them. It’s time for ministers, ministries, and churches to address these issues with the uncomfortable truth that the Holy Spirit says to say, rather than a watered-down version that protects our reputations and our careers. The Bible clearly says in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 that all our works will be burned up if we miss the mark. Jesus is the mark and Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life. This means that everything from Jesus revolves around TRUTH. We cannot miss the mark of TRUTH, or else we only give a partial, watered-down version of the gospel.
So… WHAT IS MINISTRY?
Ministry is diverse, yet singular. Ministry is the good news of TRUTH that so rocks the boat of mainstream, it is falsely classified as bad news. Ministry is a love that is so passionate it often feels like a flood of water or a burning fire – until the recipient understands how this water and fire cleansed their soul (Song of Solomon 8:6-8). Ministry is reaching into the places no one else wants to go – whether a location, a place of the soul, a place of truth that goes against the norms, or a place of worship. Ministry can be gentle or abrupt. Ministry can be popular or ridiculed (Jesus was both). Ministry can be radical or simple. Ministry can be either a stumbling block or a steppingstone. But… a God-Mandated Ministry always brings about change. The intent is always to help others see the big picture, rise to the next level, overcome the past, escape dysfunctions, heal (body, soul, spirit), rescue from harm, stop the wages of a sinful lifestyle and ultimately usher in peace for eternal life.
1 CORINTHIANS 12:1-11 (CSB) explains it this way:
Now concerning (diversity of) spiritual gifts: brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you used to be enticed and led astray by mute idols. Therefore, I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Now THERE ARE DIFFERENT GIFTS, BUT THE SAME SPIRIT.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT MINISTRIES, BUT THE SAME LORD.
And THERE ARE DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES, BUT THE SAME GOD WORKS ALL OF THEM IN EACH PERSON.
A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person FOR THE COMMON GOOD:
*to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit,
*to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit,
*to another, faith by the same Spirit,
*to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
*to another, the performing of miracles,
*to another, prophecy,
*to another, distinguishing between spirits,
*to another, different kinds of tongues,
*to another, interpretation of tongues.
One and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills.
In conclusion, I've been called to speak TRUTH as the Lord reveals it to me. This truth covers all aspects of life and does not exclude a certain component just because it is not popular or because it's uncomfortable. Honestly, it is a heavy mantle that in my earlier years I wished would go away. In times past, I've been guilty of watering-it-down and even running away from it. But the fact of the matter is that this is the gift God has given me. You can call it a prophetic gift if you like. I like to think of myself as operating in the nine gifts of the Spirit as the Lord allows.
I think if we were all honest with ourselves, we all have a mandate to speak TRUTH as the Lord reveals it to us. We just need to be sure that the truth we speak is indeed from God and He has prompted us to speak it at that given moment in time. There is only one truth, so to say this is my truth is not a message from God. Finding God’s truth takes a lot of prayer, study time, research, meditation and LISTENING. God’s truth is precious. It is not common. It is powerful. It changes lives!
In addition, we all have a mandate to bring goodness into others’ lives through acts of service and love. Everyone needs love. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. God is Love!
So, let’s all spend more time loving one another, respecting one another, building one another up, warning one another of danger, having meaningful conversations with one another and listening to one another.
We are all in this together.
Life is complicated.
Ministry is Messy!
But… GOD IS GOOD!
1 Timothy 1:12-17 CSB
I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry— even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.