Do you ever feel you can’t see the wood for the trees? I know that is a cliche – but, in ministry the day can never end (there isn’t a straightforward ‘in’ and ‘out’ tray), you can’t look at people’s lives or mission in a community where so few know Jesus and simply say ‘finished’.
However, we are also not effective with a scatter gun approach – doing so much that each bit of what we do appears to make no difference – instead of taking stock sometimes, we try and start more stuff or just ‘do’ more . . . Doing more is always the enemy of doing the best!
So, rushing back to scripture I read this again,
It was for freedom that Christ has set us free
Freedom! Why then does ministry sometimes not feel like that!! Well, I think our desperate need to be appreciated and our guilt at not being busy enough with ministry work is like taking on a fresh yoke of slavery – we have been delivered, but we have put on ourselves a yoke of expectations, a yoke of fear, a yoke of (put your own particular thing here). Too much really can be too much – and, we are not called to it!
If you listened to the great commission from Jesus it is not a ‘death by PowerPoint’ presentation of loads and loads of tasks – the disciples do have a task ahead of them (it’s big!) but it is also really, really, CLEAR.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Yes, ok, it’s a big mission – but how many things are on the job description? I can only count three:
1. Go and make disciples.
2. Baptise those new believers.
3. Teach them to obey Jesus teaching.
And, the BONUS – which isn’t a task, but what is also included in the mission they have been given:
4. Jesus will be with you.
This is such crystal clear focus from Jesus as he lays out what needs to be done, it is not ambiguous, it is not for a trial period or probation of 6 months and then a confirmed contract, it is incredibly focused!
How focused is our ministry job description? How clear is it? Does what we ‘do’ in ministry terms every REALLY deviate from the great commission – or is it simply we have so added stuff to what ministry is, that it has become obscured, we have lost focus?
F.O.C.U.S – let’s do that then!
F.O. “Full On”. Firstly, we have to acknowledge that ministry is full on, but – as we have identified, even with a MASSIVE job (um, go and REACH the WORLD) there are still only a few things that should be a priority. Three if you look above. And three is a good number. Think about what you do in ministry, think about when you feel most FREE to be who God called you to be – what areas of ministry do you find it easy to be FULL ON in? Which things do you do that you don’t need to work up a passion for – you are in ministry because of these things. Right, now write down just three of them. There things. No more. Three!
C.U. “Called Up”. You can look at this in two ways, we are ‘called up’ in the sense that we have joined something incredible, ‘called up’ could also be invited – we get to participate in all that God is doing (let’s not kid ourselves this being ‘called up’ is about what we can do). Look at who God called up in scripture! Amazing ‘got it all sorted people’? Or, people like you and me. Keep your ‘call’ central in who you are and what you do. It goes with the ‘up’ though, look up . . . A great verse to remember:
I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?Psalm 121:1
When the psalmist wrote this, imagine the hills covered in idols – ‘over’ the people, dominating the landscape – so when the psalmist looks, he isn’t thinking of the angel armies coming riding over the hills – the help isn’t coming from the hills. Look higher! When we look up, we need to know that the God of heaven and earth – Has us, he who called us in the first place, in ministry terms if you doubt the ‘call up’ read this:
The one who calls you is faithful. He will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:24
‘He will do it’ the verses before this one unpack it – sanctify us. Perfect us. We cannot – in the pursuit of ministry perfection, look to our ministry achievements as some kind of ‘badge’ the focus in this verse (while it is about us) is about what God will DO – not what we will do – yes we are called, but HE is faithful and HE will do it. This has to underpin our understanding of ministry.
S. “Service”. Giving ourselves to others, how do we go about this in the three priorities we have identified? We serve – preferring others, giving and ministering with a ‘less is more’ approach – less work and tasks and things, so there can be more of a focus and more poured in to a few things that will stand the test of time, be sustained, bear fruit – and, ultimately these ministry areas of work should be sustained with less of us! Service is about building others up – the ‘Ministry of Food’ book from Jamie Oliver did this – get a copy and read his ‘vision’ at the front of the book, now think about ministry – what would the church look like if EVERY person was equipped to do three things really well, and then they equipped three other people to do the same, and so on? How long would it take for the whole Church to be in ministry – serving others, living for others.
Everyone FREE to FOCUS on three things they can do to be salt and light in the world, live out the gospel in the workplace, share Jesus with their neighbours . . . .
1 – get focused on your three things.
2 – do them well in the power of the Spirit, knowing it is God who enables and equips you.
3 – pass it on.