Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A New Definition of Ministry

I used to want to be "in ministry". As a kid I thought it would be nice to be a pastor's wife; my grandpa was a Southern Baptist minister and liked the idea of carrying that on, even if I wasn't Baptist! Early in our relationship, Tim and I thought we'd be youth pastors. Time and circumstances eventually changed our minds.

Now my idea of being in ministry has changed. What used to be a title and a job description has become everyday life, reaching out to those around me with the love of Christ. Pastors and those in "official" ministry positions have important and valued places, but sometimes the tough work is best accomplished at the kitchen table- whether you're a pastor, a pastor's wife or a homemaker. As a minister in the field, I have fewer meetings to take up my true ministry time and less planning to do. I'm not concerned with budgets or memberships, sermon preparation or appropriate Sunday attire. What does concern me is the young single mother that God put on my heart at Ian's school. I've started chatting with her, giving her rides when I can and praying for her.

My time in Germany was my personal wilderness experience and now I find myself in a new world and with new ideas of what I'm here for. In the short months since I've begun to see my whole life as fully God's and my daily breath to be used for His glory, it amazes me who I've come in contact with. Lonely new immigrants, single moms, women in difficult marriages, women with emotional issues, women who have lost a mom/dad in the time I've known them. These are all opportunities to share Christ, to be the hands of Jesus in a real way.

We all tend to say we want to do whatever He asks-- but do we mean it? Do you really believe that God has engineered your circumstances to allow you to love someone in a unique way? Look again at your neighbors, your coworkers, the people you go to church with, the cashier at the grocery store; are they your ministry? Does the love of Christ shine through you in a way that blesses them? Have you delved into their lives and seen their needs, how they hurt? Isn't our God big enough for them? Doesn't He live in you? Do you believe God, that he is all they need

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can’t understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you. Never put yourself in front of your circumstances and say, "I’m going to be my own providence here; I will watch this closely, or protect myself from that." All your circumstances are in the hand of God, and therefore you don’t ever have to think they are unnatural or unique. Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.

Am I making the Holy Spirit’s work difficult by being vague and unsure, or by trying to do His work for Him? I must do the human side of intercession— utilizing the circumstances in which I find myself and the people who surround me. I must keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit. Then as I lift different ones to God through prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them.

Your intercessions can never be mine, and my intercessions can never be yours, ". . . but the Spirit Himself makes intercession" in each of our lives (Romans 8:26). And without that intercession, the lives of others would be left in poverty and in ruin.

~Oswald Chambers

After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, "God has called me for this and for that," you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.

I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, "Lord, this causes me such heartache." To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy "world within the world," and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being "frost-bitten."

~Oswald Chambers


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  1. Good word girl! I always enjoy your insights. They are encouraging. Keep it rolling off the press! Mom

  2. great thoughts reese. coming from a "pk" -- your words are sooo true.


  3. Great post, Reese! As a pk and also being in ministry with my husband, I wish more people saw ministry this way.

  4. Another great thought! I learned this lesson after graduating from Bible college. While "waiting" to enter full-time ministry, I was privileged to start and lead a ministry team that grew to 70+ teenagers and over 20 adult sponsors. It was then that God taught me that ministry is something that most often happens outside the church, by those who do not have a title or an office.

    However, I am learning this lesson all over again now that I am a stay-at-home mom...I guess that's the process of discipleship--letting God use us no matter what our circumstances.