Hello Church Devotion Sept. 13, 2013

“M” is for “Ministry”

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Ministry”?

Do you think of youth ministry? Women’s ministry? Men’s ministry? Children’s ministry? Or even ministry to the armed forces? Social ministry? Caring ministry? Maybe you think of campus ministry? Or Senior ministry? Or do you think of the office of public ministry? Maybe you think of Lutheran Hour Ministries? Or other agencies or ministries?

Wow, that that is just a start of the many ministries we may think of when we hear the word, “Ministry”. But, perhaps more telling, is what we mean when we use ministry in this context.

Take youth ministry… It is really ministering or serving the youth… wouldn’t you say?

“Ministry" is from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning "to serve" or douleuo, meaning "to serve as a slave." In the New Testament, ministry is seen as service to God and to other people in His name. Jesus provided the pattern for Christian ministry—He came, not to receive service, but to give it (seeMatthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17).

The Christian can minister by meeting people's needs with love and humility on Christ's behalf (see Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43;John 2:5,9; Acts 6:3; Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12). Christians are to minister to others out of their devotion to Christ and their love for others, whether the other people are believers or unbelievers. Ministry to others should be impartial and unconditional, always seeking to help others as Jesus would.

Many times, I remember former members that I've served with who exemplified the role of serving. One such lady, who was later called to Jesus' side, was Bobbie Duke. She was so good about listening to others, providing a safe place to discuss things. The teenagers flocked around her as did those in their later years. She was a worker in the kitchen and was a widow for many years. She found her role was not to be up in front, but rather was a servant who made the tea for potlucks, did the shopping for the Church, and was always available to help someone else out. She stood out not because of her asking for attention, but rather stood out because of her humility and care for others.

The ministry also has a vocational meaning as we call pastors "ministers" to full-time service. Pastors do spend their lives in the ministry, they do minister to others, and they can rightly be designated as ministers, but pastors are not the only ones who are to be involved in ministry.

From the early New Testament churches to the churches of our day, each Christian (not just pastors) should be in the ministry of helping others (see Romans 12:3-8, 10-13; 2 Timothy 2:24-26). In fact, we use the term from 1 Peter “Priesthood of all believers” as the designated name for the ministry assigned to each of us in our vocations in life.

The content of ministry seems to prioritize the ministering in spiritual things, not just practical things. Ministry should certainly place emphasis on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others so they can receive His forgiveness and gift of faith and from there go on to experience Him as Lord of their life, and go even further to know Christ as the essence of their Life (seeJohn 1:12; Colossians 2:6-7; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:8-10). Ministry can, and should, include ministering to the physical, emotional, mental, vocational, and financial needs of others. Jesus did, and so should we!

So what does this look like? It looks like people who need people to care for them. It looks like visiting those homebound members. It looks like preparing a meal for a family experiencing a bump in the road. It looks like cleaning the Church bathroom after the Rummage sale. It looks like... people who care for others and don't wait for others to do it. It looks like people who realize their unique calling and gifts from God. Does this look like you?

After all, ministry is about service. And when you are serving someone, you are not lording it over them, but rather humbly attending to their needs. Jesus came as one who could have certainly lorded it over all those He came to save. Yet, He chose to humble Himself and become a servant of all.

Being a servant, however, is not about being stupid or not using common sense! Let me cite an example: Someone comes to the Church door asking for help in getting enough gas to pick up their child. Do we hand them cash? No! We don’t hand out cash because first off that would mean that we store cash at the office which makes us more of a target. Secondly, we don’t turn them away necessarily either. We do provide a limited amount on a gift card to a local gas station or we go with the person to pump the gas. It is amazing how many times when you insist on going to the pump with them, that their need disappears. Yet, those who really need our service are getting the help we can provide.

So when you think about ministry from now on, think about people and their needs. How has God gifted you in ways to ministry and serve others? When you think about it, all of our days could be spent in ministry to others. Serving others with the love of Christ to guide our words and actions. Ah, now that sounds exciting! And it certainly is!!!!

Prayer: Lord, help me to be open for Your prompting Spirit so that I can provide a human face to Your Love. You have gifted me with so many blessings and talents, yet I am slow to recognize them. Lord, open my heart to care about others and to be ready to share Your love with them. Show me that I am to serve and minister to those around me. Empower me and grant me a gentle heart towards those in need. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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