December 11, 2005

The Ministry of Everyday

The Question:

A while back, I had lunch with the some friends from class at a restaurant. While at lunch, I discussed historical and religious topics with one of the students, a history/religion major. After we were fairly deep into the conversation, he stopped and gave me a puzzled look. "Are you a religion major?" he asked. Here I would like to pause time and consider something. You see, nearly everywhere I go, and with nearly everyone I talk to, there is this assumption that I will be going into some form of official ministry as a pastor, youth minister, or missionary. Why? It seems to be that they believe this for the basic reason that I speak with a certain degree of authority and knowledge of spiritual things and of Scripture. Now, I am not a Biblical scholar by any means so I put forth to you this question: Why is it that when we encounter someone of some Biblical knowledge and grounding, we automatically assume them to be either heading in the direction of the Ministry, or already there?

Is it only those in ministry that need be grounded and knowledgeable of the Word? If that is true, and we know from Scripture that it is not, then there would be no cause for alarm. However, since it is not true, then I question you, why does this perception persist? Are the lay people in the Church so ignorant of the Word of God that only those in positions of ministry are publicly knowledgeable of it? If this is true then we as a church have bought into a very bold faced and dangerous lie straight from the pit of hell.

The Paternal Commission of Ministry:

In Matthew chapter 28, verses 19 and 20, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us, all of us, these parting words, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Notice that it did not say, “Those who I have called to be ministers…” it was directed at all of us and it applies to all of us. We are commissioned by our Father to spread the good tidings to all the world, starting first in our every day life, and then moving out in concentric circles of influence until we have spread the light to every corner of this dark world.

When I graduated high school, my father and I had a conversation in which he told me, “Andrew, I hope that you have a greater impact on your environment than either of your brothers did when they went off to college.” Now, my father was not belittling the impact that my elder brothers had, what he was saying was that he hoped that with each new person that went out, an even greater impact for Christ and His Kingdom would be made. This is the hope of our ministry that each person would make a greater impact than the one who went before until the whole world has heard the great news of our Savior’s great love. That commission that my father gave me inspired me throughout my life and continues to inspire me today.

The Ministry of Every Day:

When asked one day by a co-worker what the secret to making every day Christianity every day easy was, I simply replied, “Doing it every day.” There is a ministry that every Christian can have, and does have every day whether they realize it or not, and it is called “The Ministry of Every Day.” Every day we go out into the world and live. We go to work, we go shopping, we go bowling and to the movies, we go to sporting events, we go to the park, we go out to eat; every day, we live in the world. And how we live is our ministry, our witness. The world is watching, and listening, and yearning for something of value and something with meaning. They are watching you. They are watching me. They are looking for something different, something real. Are you showing it to them? Everyday? Do you take the time to pray before meals even when eating in public, or on your lunch break in the lounge at work? I remember one day I was at work, and there was a worker there who was living in open and blatant sin. He commented to someone in my presence one day that I set myself apart from the rest of society in his book the first day I met him. He knew there was something different about me, something real. How? By praying before I ate on my lunch break. Such a simple and slight thing, yet it made a big difference in his perception of me. Every day, each and every one of us interact with hundreds of people on a regular basis, are you living out the Gospel of Christ in such a way that no one can deny the power thereof? If not, then there is the first step to mastering the Ministry of Every Day.

Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel every day, and if necessary use words.” Sometimes it is necessary to use words. Are you taking the time to tell people about Jesus and the roll He plays in your life as the windows present themselves? If not, then you are missing a vital part of our Divine Commission. As you live out your life every day for Christ, then He sends you windows where you can share his Love. Sometimes they are little things like simply telling someone that God loves them, and other times they are big, rare opportunities delivered on a silver platter and a neon sign saying, “Witness to me.”

I remember once I was talking to a worker at my job and I mentioned to her that once a long time ago, I had a problem with anger. I was like a man with a tiger caged inside. She found this hard to believe and asked me what happened, so I replied that God dealt with me, and he did not just tame the tiger, he took the Tiger out back and shot him. My temper was gone. A customer overheard us talking about God and came over saying, “I want in on this conversation.” I groaned inward, not wanting an argument. “What did you disagree with?” I asked. “Nothing,” she replied, “I don’t know anything about God, I was hoping that you could tell me.” My jaw hit the floor and I stuttered, I did not know what to say. I shortly regained my composer, and for forty-five minutes I shared the Gospel with this lady, courtesy of my employer who was paying me to “help the customer.” This would not have happened if I had not made my testimony and my relationship with Christ part of my every day life. What about you? My constant prayer to God is that His character will so shine through me that those who interact with me will be able to see it and say, “God still walks among men, for He walks with this man.”

The SHAPE of Ministry:

Rick Warren, Saddleback Church Orange County California, speaks about the SHAPE of ministry in his sermon on 40 days of purpose. There is a shape to everybody’s ministry. That shape is defined by 5 characteristics:
• Spiritual gifts
• Heart (What do I love to do?)
• Abilities
• Personality
• Experience
I learned from Henry Blackaby that I should not try to prepare a ministry for myself and expect God to get involved in it but instead get involved in a ministry that God has already prepared for me. Once I recognized that as a commissioned ambassador of the kingdom I was called to minister if not to be a minister, it then became apparent that I was called to a specific ministry, and that I was uniquely prepared for that specific ministry. This realization began a thorough process of both searching and submitting myself to God in order to be used for His ministry, and the Ministry of Every Day developed naturally out of my every day life. I determined what my spiritual gift was; I determined where my heart was; I determined what my abilities were; I determined what my personality was; and I drew from my experience in church, in school, in work, and in play and from all that, my ministry began to take shape.

The Every Day Power:

Remember how this whole talk got started? With people asking me “the question.” It was because I knew the Word. I am not a minister, but I am called to minister. But I ask you, how can I minister if I do not know the Word? When we live the “Ministry of Every Day” we have to exhibit Every Day Power. We develop this power by walking every day with Christ, and letting Him change us into His image. That cannot happen if we do not “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) There seems to be a mentality among the Church in both the lay people and the leaders that the lay people are not interested or capable of going deeper in their study of the Word. When my father commissioned me to make an impact in my world, I gave it serious thought and consideration. That was a tall order! How would I go about doing that? I began praying and studying, and watching, and over time God began to show me that the secret to power was sincerity. When we were sincere in our walk and our talk, then people could tell and it impacted them. So then I began asking, “What is the secret to sincerity?” I found my answer from A.W. Tozer who lived by this one theme, a thesis if you would, “To know God as He desired to be known by us.” Is that not our purpose? As we study, and we walk, and we live in the presence of God, He changes us. That transformed being then exhibits true sincerity and power because the change happened from the inside out and now we shine the light of God. But you have to spend time, time and hard work. Relationships are not easy; ask any couple, they will tell you. It takes time. Husbands have to become students of their wives, and wives students of their husbands. In order to find sincerity and the Every Day Power, we have to stay focused on the person of Jesus Christ every day. Not the concept, or the idea but the person. And that requires a degree of discipleship that goes deeper than what is currently deemed “acceptable.”

A Thesis for Ministry:

A.W. Tozer lived by his thesis, everything he did revolved around accomplishing this central theme. That concept inspired me, it energized me and I adopted it. I decided to create a thesis to drive my life and help me to stay focused as I lived out the shape of my ministry every day. I started with the commission that my father gave me, to make an impact on my world, and I developed it into the phrase that encapsulates my purpose for living.

“To make a positive impact everywhere I go, and on every one I meet for Christ and His Kingdom.”

What are you living for? What drives your life and encapsulates your purpose for living?

Posted by GodzScout at December 11, 2005 10:45 PM