Thursday, January 15, 2009

Having a ministry mindset

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
I am happy to say that my life feels pretty good about now. That didn't just happen. I had to let some things go -- more like -- I had to stop doing things my way and without direction. By the end of last year, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with life but most of the burden was self-imposed because I didn't want to say "no" to anything. By my not saying "no," I found myself in ministry but not in a ministry mindset. The ministry efforts became a "have to" not a "want" or "need to." What I lacked was spending time with the Father and asking for His guidance. After all, who has time with all the things that had to be done??? While I was on vacation for the Christmas holidays. I had time to reflect and to breathe without having some looming deadline on my calendar. This was a perfect time for the Lord to get my attention and let me know that most of the chaos in my life was self-inflicted and had I consulted Him, I would be less stressed and therefore more effective in His ministry. It was not about me or even what others thought of me and my level of service - it was about Him. God does not have us in ministry to appease others. There will be times that people will not agree with us or even like us. OUCH!!! That's hard to hear for a people-pleaser like myself. But, hey -- it's the truth. The Bible is full of folks that bucked convention and were contrary to the teachings and expectations of the day. Even Jesus was expected to "be" and to "do." Remember the story of Lazarus -- his sisters Mary and Martha sent for Jesus and said they needed Him to come NOW because their brother was very ill. Jesus did not "jump," yet He waited a couple of days and by then Lazarus succumbed to death. The story goes, Jesus finally did make the trip to the family and when He arrived, the sisters questioned Him and told Him He should have been there! Well, it all worked out in the end and Lazarus was raised from the dead and God was ultimately glorified. Had Jesus arrived and healed Lazarus as the Mary and Martha hoped, God would have received the glory but raising someone from the dead packs a more powerful punch. (Wouldn't you say??) (John 11) Ministry is not about doing the most to reach the masses. It is about doing what God calls us to do and reaching those He intends. That may mean just reaching out to your neighbor with a plate of cookies and conversation or He could call you to speak in a packed sanctuary. Whatever the ministry you're in -- believe me -- we are all called to minister. I have to remind myself that saying "no" is sometimes part of His plan. More times than not, if I don't consult with Him and do things my way -- there is some fruit but not the bounty there would have been if He was involved. After all, it's His ministry - shouldn't I let Him call the shots? Dear Lord -- Please forgive me for the times I have become overzealous and somewhat legalistic about ministry. Thank You for helping me see that Your time is not always my time. I praise You that You have called me and other believers to be ministers right in our own homes. Thank You for showing me Your favor and allowing me to be shown the error of my ways. IN the precious name of Jesus - AMEN Application:
  • Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the many responsibilities on your plate?
  • Have you prayed about each of these to determine if they are God's will for you at this time in your life?
  • Do you find joy or do you go through the motions of getting things done?
  • Make a list of all the "things" or responsibilities in your life and pray over each one individually. Ask the Lord to show you how to be more effective in each area and to see if this is how He would have you serve His kingdom.

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