Is Ministry Getting in the Way of your Calling.
The sun rises. The alarm clock goes off. Have to get the family up. Everyone has to get showered and dressed. Breakfast has to be served so the kids aren’t starving by the time church is over. You can’t eat yourself so you grab a yogurt or piece of fruit to eat on the way to church. “Are you ready yet?”, is the typical refrain coming from one spouse to the other because we have to get to church on time, you are serving in ministry today.
Get the kids all bundled up, warm up the car, get everyone in the car to then go barreling down the highway to make it to church on time. Does this sound like a typical Sunday morning in your house because that’s how it is in mine.
Huffing and rushing to get to church especially on the Sunday’s when it is time for ministry. You have to sing or usher or teach Sunday school or whatever the service may be. However, I have a question I want to ask you about ministry. Why are you serving in the ministry that you are currently serving in? (Take a pause after reading this question and think about the answer you come up with. Once you have an answer continue reading)
I want to be clear that I am in no way knocking or discouraging anyone from serving in ministry in fact I would encourage it. More specifically I want you to look at what you are doing and ask yourself why are you doing it? Here is my definition of ministry:
Offering service to the body of Christ and to the world, often through the local church, using the gifts God has given you and operating within the calling God has for you.
Here is what I believe is the definition of ministry in many churches:
Offering service to the body of Christ and to the world, often through the local church, sometimes using the gifts God has given you and operating in the place of the church that has the greatest need.
I hope you can see the subtle differences.
I want to present to you a simple hypothesis that many people are serving in ministries not because they are called to it or gifted for it but simply because they are filling a need. The church needs an usher, I know how to ush, so I will be an usher. Hey they have a choir, I like to sing I think I will join the choir. I like kids maybe I will teach Sunday school. While there is nothing wrong with filling a need in church if you have the ability to meet the need, I want you to go a step further in your thinking.
I want to challenge you to rethink this process because sometimes your choice of ministry and where you choose to exercise ministry can get in the way of what God has called you to do. Why does this happen?
1 – You don’t know – You have no clear direction or evidence in your heart what your gifts are or what God wants you to do. When you are in this place you may just look and see where the church has need and help out there.
2 – You can’t say NO – You may or may not have clear direction of what God wants you to do but as long as someone asks you are going to do it. This is even truer if the person is the pastor or a respected leader in the church. Hey can you help us over here? Your response, OK. You don’t know how to say no so you agree to do things whether they are in your gifting or calling or not.
3 – You are in your comfort zone – You have been doing this ministry for so long you either don’t want to do anything else or you never stop to ask if there is something else God wants you to do. Many times when asked why are you still serving in this ministry, you use responses like “God hasn’t told me to leave yet.” My simple question is when was the last time you sincerely asked.
4 – You get type cast – If you sing, teach, play an instrument, dance, administrate, usher, clean or whatever you do then people think that is all you are supposed to do. Not recognizing that sometimes God is stirring you to do something else or that you were serving in that capacity to fulfill a need not to fulfill your calling.
The challenge of ministry in church is that it never stops and there will always be needs. There will always be a ministry that has a need. There is always another service, another rehearsal, another meeting, another something and when you couple this with the myriad of responsibilities you have outside of church it is easy to get stuck on this hamster wheel that never has an end to it. In other words, you never have time to discover what God is calling you to do because you are too busy serving in ministry.
As you move forward in your journey with the Lord I want to encourage you to do 3 simple things each year in regards to any ministry you are serving in.
1 – Rest –Make sure you are taking time off from serving every year to rest. Yes that means taking a break from your ministry. Stop running and take a vacation if you will. You take vacations from work you need to do the same from ministry. Doing more and serving more doesn’t mean you are going to get better results in fact the opposite is true. Your body, mind and spirit need rest.
2 – Review – During your period of rest ask God if this is what you still want me to be doing or is there something else you want me to do. You can only ask this question when you are in a period of rest because the voices of the needs of the ministry are too loud to get an answer to this question while you are serving.
3 – Renew – Renew your mind. Renew your spirit. Renew your commitment to whatever direction God is leading you.
After you have done these three things if you feel that God is leading you in a different direction then it is time to leave that particular ministry and follow what God is calling you to do. As hard as it may be, try to avoid falling into the trap that says if I leave and stop doing this who is going to do it. That is not your concern. If God is leading you out, He will lead someone else in.
It is more important to follow God’s call and plan for your life than to hold on to your ministry responsibilities. Don’t make the mistake and confuse the ministry you are serving in with your calling. Sometimes this is a match but sometimes it’s not. I encourage you to take the time to find out what God is calling you to do and not allow ministry to get in the way. You may discover you are exactly where you need to be or you may discover it’s time to do something else.
Once you are sure you are in the place God wants you to be your service will be much more effective because it now lines up with the purpose and call that God has for you. Not only will you be better off for it but the church and everyone you touch through your ministry will be better off for it as well.