I used to wonder what I was supposed to do with my life. Would I produce the next great indie film like Tarantino? Would I write the next classic Christian novel like C.S. Lewis? Would I help spark the next great Reformation like Martin Luther?
How many other people have similar ambitions?
After much soul searching, I finally figured out what I can do better than anyone else in the world…
I can be a best husband to Megan, my wife, and the best father to our coming child. I can be the best SEO at my current job and the best coworker to my teammates. I can be the best second son to my parents and the best younger brother to my siblings. I can be the best friend to the person I have dinner with next week, and be the best witness for Christ to the stranger I meet tomorrow.
I can do all of these things better than anyone else, because no one else is exactly where God has placed me. I’m the only person in my current circumstances — and I perform that role better than anyone.
So rather than wishing to be someone else or longing to impact the world in another role, I’m going to be the best servant I can be right where I am and let God worry about where I’ll be tomorrow.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
– Colossians 3:23-24
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
– Ephesians 2:10
I was just contemplating the concept of busyness, when my friend shared this story with me. All of my stress is self-imposed. I willingly fill my life with events, projects, and obligations – which I would soooo like to do and put on my reputation resume. I’m addicted to work (both personal and professional), because I tend to find my significance in my accomplishments. What if I found my significance elsewhere? Like in the status I’ve been given in Christ? How much more time would I have, and how much easier would life be, if I didn’t have so much to *do*? For the next two months, I’m going to try and say “no” to every event invitation, not sign up for any new classes, not take on any new projects – and see how much happier I am. Can I really find happiness in accomplishing nothing? I’ll check back in after the election.
To Christians, ministries are like iPhones – every Christian’s gotta have one! Surely, to be truly spiritual, every Christian must have their own personal ministry that they can launch, promote and run like a small business! (Don’t forget your tax-free status!) Preferably this ministry will coincide nicely with your personal interests.
Amy would rather play music than do her homework, so she needs to form a Christian band! Jackie enjoys gorging herself on chocolates, so she needs to start a Christian chocolate lovers home group! Joe likes drinking and picking up chicks, so he needs to launch a Christian dating ministry! These are the worlds familiar to them. These are the people they’re being “called” to reach. Right?
God certainly wouldn’t punish these enthusiastic folks by calling them to give up their passions, leave their comfortable lives, or simply live a simple, obscure life. God wants us to be happy – and famous! God wants us to have successful ministries!
What are ministries? Why are we concerned with having them? Jesus and the apostles didn’t emphasize the need for every Christian to have a personal, tax-exempt ministry relevant to their culture. He gave us very simple directives… Love God, love your neighbor, preach the Gospel, and make disciples. These should be the personal “ministries” of every Christian.
Don’t know what ministry God is calling you to? You don’t need to wait on the leading of the Holy Spirit to know that God is calling you to love Him, love your neighbor, preach the Gospel, and make disciples. Jesus was clear about all of those things. He calls all Christians to do these.
I don’t know about you, but I barely have enough time to do any one of these things – much less all of them. Why would I need to spend what free time I have creating more work (read: ministry) each day?
If you and I focused on loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, we wouldn’t have time for ministry. If we loved our neighbors as ourselves, our calendars would already be full.
Who do we spend the majority of our time with? Where is the bulk of our energy spent? If the answer is the Church or other Christians, then our priorities are off.
You don’t serve Christ by separating yourselves into Christian ministries and engaging the world from the perch of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, or from within the confines of an isolated church building or home group (geographically in the community, but practically absent & non-existent). You serve Christ by serving your neighbors – both the wealthy neighbors (aka big donors!) and the “least of these” (Matt 25:40).
What is your personal ministry? Is it based around a personal interest? Is your dedication to that particular interest distracting you from fulfilling God’s command to love Him, love your neighbors, preach the Gospel, and make disciples?
If you’re more concerned with how much money your ministry raises, how many people attend your meetings, how well your marketing efforts are going, or how fulfilled your ministry makes you… maybe it’s time to ditch your ministry.
If you’ve never met your next-door neighbor, invited them over for dinner, or planned a neighborhood block party… maybe it’s time to ditch your ministry.
If you don’t spend time every single day reading the Bible and praying to God, learning more about Him, and worshiping Him… maybe it’s time to ditch your ministry.
Quit using your ministry as an excuse to disengage from the world and from God. Be ready everyday to be interrupted by an opportunity to serve or get to know your neighbors, or to go to God in prayer. Life already has too many distractions. Don’t get caught up in the logistics of “ministry.”
On Saturday, I had a bad day. I found out that my wife and I had wasted a total of about $7,000 on a “beater” car we purchased a month ago, thinking it would last us through the next two years while we sacrificed financially to get out of debt. It was a perfect situation – a decent car needing only minimal repairs for a bargain price. Then we were broadsided with a costly oil pump break that caused damage to the engine. The cost of initial repairs would be over a thousand dollars, and that wasn’t counting the engine damage. It very well could be a total loss. We’ve decided to wash our hands of the thing before we dumped any more money into it.
It would be very easy for me to fall into a small depression over this large chunk of lost money. But I’ve been constantly reminding myself that it wasn’t our money to begin with. It was God’s money. We are simply stewards of the resources He’s given us. We tried really hard to be good stewards of His money. We kept our pride in check and purchased an old, inexpensive car for my wife. We shopped around and did research online. We enlisted several people in our car search and sought godly advice. We followed the “Dave Ramsey plan” in that we bought a “beater” so we could get out of debt faster. We did everything right.
But our best-laid plans are laughable to God. Our wisdom is foolishness to Him. Our perspective is so miniscule and limited, that we can hardly expect to understand why we go through struggles. However, we trust God that He’ll work everything out for our good.
As I waivered on the fulcrum of depression, I began to contemplate the fact that, as a Christian, this is as bad as it gets. My car could break down every week, I could lose my job tomorrow, I could even be beaten and killed next month – but the struggles I face during my few years here on Earth will be as bad as it gets for me.
When I die, it gets infinitely better. Upon my death, I will enter into the presence of God. There will never be pain, sorrow, broken down cars, or financial worry for me ever again. For Christians, our “hell” is our time on Earth. This is as bad as it gets. I could lose everything, and it would be nothing compared to the eternal judgment awaiting those who have rejected Christ.
I thank God that I will never experience true Hell, because Jesus has experienced it for me. He took my place, so that I could live forever with Him.