Over the past few months, I’ve had many conversations with friends about ministry and what it truly is. The word itself is pretty broad but in the church world, we use it to mean “the office, duties, or functions of a minister.“ (Merriam-Webster) Webster continues to say that ministry is also “the body of ministers governing a nation or state from which a smaller cabinet is sometimes selected.”
Either way, “ministry” denotes a position of authority where what you’re doing “speaks over” those around you. And, people generally listen to what you have to say. They may not agree (as in governing a state or nation) but what’s being said through that “ministry” carries a certain weight behind it.
I truly believe we’re moving away from the four walls of the church and taking “ministry” to a whole new level. I’ve only been in a position of authority in a church once in my life, for only a year. Up to that point, I’d cleaned toilets, was a member of the worship team, helped with the banking things, and even had a small stint with running sound. When I moved to a new area, one of the first things I did was go find a church. This seemed to be the expected thing to do. And, you tithed to the church you attended. In a perfect world, I did all the “right” things according to what was expected of me as a Christian. I was happy to do it and generally enjoyed my years being a part of churches. I’m the odd duck in that even when things got mighty stinky, I seemed to stay out of the stench. My last escapade in a church? I was pretty much forced out because I didn’t bow down to the new minister, believing his teachings were the only ones I should adhere to. Red flag!
Because I’ve never been involved in “ministry” as defined by the church, maybe my views towards how it should look are different. I’ve been a career woman, focusing on using my job(s) as my place of ministry. Many a night as a house director in a sorority, I’d come out of my apartment at midnight to find a beautiful young woman drunker than a skunk falling all over herself, gleefully laughing while saying to me, “Hello Ms. Del! I’m not drunk… I’m just having fun!” I’d usually laugh while checking with her buddies to make sure she was OK. Judging her actions with a look of disdain, a snide remark, or any other other negative gesture or comment would not have scored me points.
Then, there’s the many students who’ve come to their lessons, bursting into tears as they put their instrument together. Well, I guess I wasn’t supposed to hear scales that day! My “ministry” during those times involved truly listening to what was being said through those tears. Although my brain was thinking “You have performance finals next week so we need to get through your music,” my heart was saying “Listen and be compassionate. This student needs what you have so he/she CAN be ready for performance finals.”
In both these work situations, I never mentioned God or threw scriptures at people. What I did do was be myself. Somehow, I thought that’s what “ministry” was all about. No one told me that; it’s just something I did. I grew up thinking that we demonstrated the love of God through our actions and our words. I didn’t like people judging me so I tried not to judge them. And, I made friends with some interesting people. Out of those friendships, trust was built and “ministry” occurred organically.
No, I don’t have a position of authority in a church. No, I don’t consider myself in ministry. No, I don’t want to be in ministry. Yes, I want to be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there. Yes, I want to allow the life and glory of God that’s within me pour out to those around me so they, too, are infused with the very being of God. But, I can’t do that unless I’m on that journey myself… the journey into sonship with my Beloved.
I was at a conference when one of the speakers prophesied over me, “You prophesy over people every day!” With a confused look, I asked “How is that?” His response floored me… “When you speak into people’s lives, you’re not aware that your words come from the heart of Father. You are both a mother and father to many and you’ve not even realized it!” Whoa Nellie! What? (enter confused look on my face….) With a chuckle, his response was “You speak into people’s lives every day simply be being who you are and showing them God’s love through your actions.”
Time out here! This means that our actions are important? Back actions up with words, and you have a mighty powerful package! The number two often represents a type of agreement. So, it would only make sense that actions and words that are “in agreement” would be powerful. This is why people who say one thing and do something else come across as being wishy-washy. Our first order of “ministry” should be making sure our words and actions at home, at work, with our family, with our friends, and with our Father in heaven are in agreement. Once that happens, then any formal form of being “in ministry” (as a vocation) has much more “umph” behind it. Oh yeah, throw a little weight behind that and see what happens! The power of agreement is an amazing thing that propels us into the next level of maturity. Without it, we go around the mulberry bush a few times (sing along now…).
In a nutshell… do what we say we’re going to do… in a timely manner. If you say you’re going to write, then do it. No excuses. If you say you’re going to go help the neighbor, then follow through. If you say you’ll give your kids a specific thing, then don’t wait on it. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry… I forgot!” doesn’t cut it. If you say that you’re going to help clean the house, then not only do it but, do an amazing job! Do it better than would be expected. And, if you don’t get kudos for doing it, then don’t get offended. Who are you doing it for anyway? THIS is ministry… in my mind. When I can do these things, then I’m qualified for more outside these perimeters. I’ve just graduated from one level to the next and can be given more responsibility.
Ministry starts with me and those around me. If I can’t handle that, then I have no business being a pastor of a church, an elder, running a ministry, or being in any leadership position. Position comes with authority. If we don’t have authority over our own lives and situations around us, it’s gonna be tough to be “in” ministry. I think this is why we saw so many large ministries fall in the latter part of the twentieth century. Some of these big name ministers had some dirty little secrets that eventually caught up with them. What’s within our level or charactership is what we operate out of. Eventually our junk in the trunk gets opened up. Yep… I’ve learned this the hard way!
Hold on here! This is not to say there isn’t repentance and forgiveness for when we do stupid things. However, this isn’t an excuse to keep doing it. That’s called “hyper grace,” which in my opinion, is literally playing with the enemy. When we are truly repentant, there’s grace IN that. But, it always involves actions on our part. That may include changing thought patterns, doing something different in the natural, etc. Again, it’s putting actions and words into agreement. When you add YHVH into that mix, you now have what’s called a “bench of three.” It’s a complete form of government. The Word says that a three-stranded cord isn’t easily broken. Your words, actions, and help from YHVH create that form of government that isn’t easily broken, when bringing all three into agreement.
Let me ask again… what IS ministry? I believe that ministry starts within ourselves. We align our words and actions with the creative power of YHVH. It’s in that place we learn to rule and reign over our own lives. And, as we do that in our jobs, with our families, in our neighborhoods, on the street, in a store, or with our close friends. We then “graduate” into more authority in spheres outside our normal every day lives. If we can’t go to work joyful that we have a job and be a good worker or go the extra mile in our own family, it’s going to be hard for us to “minister” to those in other arenas. In a nutshell, our “ministry to minister” begins with us and those we are closest to.
For those people saying “I’m supposed to be in the ministry” but can’t get a job to support yourself or a family, or you hate your job, you’re not ready to have that kind of ministry. I wonder what would happen if there was a “thought paradigm shift?” I’ll use myself as an example… There was one job that I absolutely hated. People were horrible to me, despite how good of a job that I did. But, I couldn’t find another job and Papa didn’t seem to be letting me out of it. News flash! When that stuff happens, there’s usually a lesson to learn. Once I changed my attitude, things began to change. But, the change had to start within me. It wasn’t overnight either. It’s when I started looking at this job as my place of ministry, being compassionate for people who were acting like dorks, and seeing them as God saw them – but not until then, did situations around me change.
There’s an old saying… “you have to rise above the circumstances” in order to see change. Now that I understand a bit more what “rise above” truly means, when I take care of things “in the spirit” instead of in my flesh, it’s amazing how quickly stupid stuff seems to not be a problem. Sometimes, the situation doesn’t change – it’s my thoughts, words, and actions (another bench of three – or governmental authority) that paves the way for change to happen here, on the face of this earth. But, that’s ONLY AFTER I deal with it in the spirit.
Conclusion (spoken like a true academic) – Do we want to be IN ministry? If our goal is to preach to thousands, have a healing ministry, a prophetic ministry, children’s ministry, or whatever else we feel “called” to do, it has to start from within us. When we are IN Christ, we are IN ministry. When we minister IN Christ, then what’s within us floods out to those around us. It makes everything that we do function the way YHVH intended.
My prayer for you… May those reading this see the ministry that YHVH has for you and that you function in who you are meant to be. May you live out of the testimony of what’s written on the scroll of your life with the assistance of the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit! May the glory, light, and peace of the Father flow through your entire being as you function through and out of who you are in Christ.