Yesterdays post talked about how important it is that we persevere with things that are hard. Things that hurt. Things that knock us off our feet. I mentioned things like marriage, parenting, illness and life in general. All of these things take huge commitment if we ever hope to be happy and fulfilled. Sometimes the things that take the most work, are the things that bring the most happiness.
On that note, what about ministry?
When I first quit my executive job to serve in ministry, most people thought I was taking the easy road. Most people thought….how could working in ministry even remotely compare to the stress, chaos, rewards and gains of the corporate world? How could serving a God you couldnt see, possibly be as rewarding as serving a high powered man (or woman) in a suit?
Oh how little they knew about ministry! And come to think of it, how little I knew about ministry at the time. How uneducated and unaware I was, of the sacrifices that would be required of me; of the surrender that would be expected of me; of the transparency that would be demanded of me; and of the battle that would be waged against me.
People who say ministry is easy, must have never served in ministry, because ministry is hard work. When I say ministry, I dont just mean public speaking, published writing, or becoming a pastor. I mean being a leader in whatever way God has called you to do – whether it be feeding the poor, helping post-abortive women find forgiveness in Christ, raising children who love the Lord, being a good provider for your family, being the spiritual leader of your home, giving Gods love and grace to your spouse, serving on a committee at church, being a womens ministry leader, helping a neighbor, or witnessing to people in your office.
The definition of ministry is: “something that serves as an agency, instrument, or means.” Ministry is simply helping people, in Gods name. Sharing love and grace, in Gods name. Impacting the kingdom of Christ, in Gods name. Being devoted to being the best husband or wife you can be, in Gods name. Being the best mom or dad you can be, in Gods name. Being loving and kind and compassionate, even if is it not your inherent nature, in Gods name.
It means willingly allowing God to change us, so we can help others change.
Ministry means being an instrument for God, an authorized agency to do His work, a means for Him to speak to peoples hearts, through us.
Ministry is a call to unequalled privilege and unequalled blessing. However, it can also be a call to unequalled discouragement and fear, as Satan wages war against those who are a threat. Think about this – why would the devil waste time trying to trip people up who are already living in a pit of despair, far from God? He will use his time wisely, and cause Gods people to stumble -those who are committed enough to persevere in Christ.
Not to scare you at all, but I am a full fledged believer now in spiritual warfare. Maybe that sounds like silly-overly-religious-holy-roller-ghostly-talk to you, but as for me, I believe it.
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We are not at war with the world, but with the one who desires to bring the world down to his level. When we take that first step to serving God with our whole hearts, the devil takes notice. That is why God’s Word instructs us to put on His full armor. We might be able to protect ourselves from an attack by another person, but an attack by the devil can only be fought off through prayer, fasting, trust, and an unshakable devotion to Christ.
Every year prior to She Speaks, I see the war gaining momentum. All aresenals on go, and targets in place. Everyone on our speaker team, myself included, seems to get hit with new problems in the spring and summer months prior to the conference. Not that problems dont occur throughout our life all the time, but you can see the warfare happening when you witness it in full force against a team of people eagerly awaiting to be used as vessels by God. So many issues, for so many people, all around the same time of year, and year after year – that is not a coincidence. It is war.
The same story can be told about the attendees of She Speaks year. Their emails flood in every year with an outpouring of requests for prayer over difficult issues in their life, some that may even prevent them from attending the conference.
Coincidence? Absolutely not. Spiritual warfare? Most definitely.
If ministry were easy, everybody would do it. So lets face it – it is not easy. Serving God is not always an easy street, lined with ever-fragrant flowers, birds chirping, butterflies swarming, and sunshine glowing. It is a not a career choice that we make after a lot of positive research backs up our suspicions of imminent success. It is not a carefree life, free from stress, tears, worries or problems. But is anything in life that way?
Sometimes, ministry can be a hard road. Something that one has to pour their whole heart into, even when their heart is breaking. Something that one has to commit to doing, even if it means being transparent with others, or sharing a past mistake that they are not proud of. Something that may require financial sacrifice, and a willingness to change a habit of spending. Something that may solicit ridicule, but requires perseverance nonetheless. Something that calls us so far out of our comfort zone that we feel as if we are hanging off of a steep cliff, with only one tiny, flimsy branch keeping us from falling to a canyon of fear.
However, despite the hard things, ministry is a call to amazing unequalled privilege. It is a call to unfounded and unequalled blessing. It is a call to develop a relationship with a God so mighty, that He doesnt need us to impact His kingdom, but gives us the opportunity to do so because of His ever lasting love for us.
Ministry is fun, and exciting; rewarding and amazing; miraculous and fulfilling….. but not always easy. If it were, everybody would do it.
Many people trust God, but not enough to step out of their comfort zones.
Many people know Gods Word, but dont have it tucked away in their heart.
Many people love God, but not all love Him enough to do what He calls them to do.
So if God has called you to do something for Him, dont expect it to be easy. If it were easy, it would not be a call, but simply a task. But rest in confidence, believing that when times get tough, you will have a God so strong to hold you up; a God so smart to guide you; a God so all-knowing to teach you; and a God so powerful to control your future…. that you will soon begin to stand on His strength, instead of your own. You will become more aware of when you are being pulled into war, and sense the immediate need to put on the armor that God has prepared for you.
Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Many are called, but few are chosen. We are told this truth in Matthew 22:14. This does not mean that God picks over all the people, and chooses who He deems worthy, because no one is worthy. Instead, this verse means that those who are chosen, are the ones who step forward, out of their comfort zone, to fight the good fight. The “chosen ones” are simply the ones that say “yes” to God, even when everything in their entire being screams no.
If it were easy, everybody would do it. What is God calling you to do today?