Called to a life of ministry?
Lately, I've been praying a lot about ministry - it's a topic that's always been quite foreign to me, but lately I've felt a need to dedicate my life to ministry. Yet, I wasn't sure what that meant exactly. Growing up, the word ministry brought to mind missionaries and church leaders - of people like Mother Teresa, Billy Graham or the people I know who are always going on one missionary trip after another. But, since the Bible tells us that we're all called to a life of ministry in Christ, I know that it extends beyond just missionary or church work.
And that always brings me to the same question, over and over again:
What is my ministry?
I believe that every single Christian and God-loving person is called to a life of ministry - a special one customized to each of our own strengths, weaknesses and destinies. This means that our talents and spiritual gifts are directly tied to our ministry.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He will. - 1 Corinthians 4-11
This is a long passage, but it brings the point home: we all have a gift of ministry distributed individually to each one of us by God himself. It's instilled in us since birth and is developed through our lives in the education we receive, the family we're raised in, the community that surrounds and all of our lives circumstances.
Before Jesus left this earth, He commanded us to do the following:
And He said to them: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will be no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and will recover." Mark 16:15-18
This is a life of ministry - doing as Jesus did when He was on earth - serving, teaching, praying, healing, testifying and living by faith. And that can be done in thousands of ways. Yes, I can be a missionary in Africa, a youth leader or volunteer at my local soup kitchen every day. But, sometimes God challenges us to think outside of these go-to ministries and to allow His will to open the opportunities for you to testify of His love and serve others.
In the end though, a ministry is not a job, volunteer obligation or a do-on-occassion kind of thing - it's a way of life. It's something we have to do every single day in our jobs, at home, at church, in our communities and maybe even across the world.
I've prayed about going on a missionary trip. I've even looked into moving abroad to serve, but at this point in my life, I've come to realize that this is not where God wants me. Each time I come back to three things (all of which have their own separate posts in my draft folder for a future date):
A life of service - focusing less on me and more on the needs of the people in my life and my community by taking the time to listen, pray, give, support and encourage them in whatever they are going through in their lives. It might be taking some time to help a non-profit make a budget or even something as simple as praying for someone I know is struggling physically, emotionally or financially. I have to learn to be faithful, caring and loving in the little things. And someday, God may entrust me with a bigger ministry.
Witness & testify - 2 Timothy 4:5 says, "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. " Do the work of an evangelist stuck out to me, because that's something I lack in my life right now - being bold in sharing what God has done for me to the people I meet and interact every day. I shy away from pushing my religion or beliefs on someone else, but I really shouldn't. I need to allow my actions AND words show God's love and grace - that is the biggest testimony of all. I don't want to reach the end of my life and learn that I was put in a certain situation to testify to someone and because of my fears and insecurities I failed and that person was never saved.
Law school - The explanation of how God called me to go to law school would take an entire separate post and someday I'll share that journey with you. But today, I'll leave it at this: Most days, I'm terrified about going to law school and I have no idea what God has in store for me that requires a legal education. But, over the last two years He's guided me through the entire law school admissions process with one miracle after another and He's worked on my heart through sermons, prayer and my Bible studies. He's urged me to speak on the behalf of those who can't, to help the poor and fight the good fight by bringing me time and time again to verses like these - when I read these words, the Spirit in me stirs and I am humbled to tears. I'm not quite sure what they mean yet in my life, but God knows and He's preparing me for something special - it might happen in a few days, a few years or even in a few decades, but I trust that I am exactly where I need to be today.
"The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away." Isaiah 50:4
"Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9
So that's my tale of discovering the meaning of being called to a life of ministry.
What does ministry mean to you? What do you feel God is calling you to do today?