I recently heard a presentation where the speaker made a statement that really struck me:
“The ‘what’ and ‘how’ (of ministry) are not as important as the ‘who’ and the ‘why.’”
Too often, pastors and ministry leaders get caught up in the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of ministry. After all, there’s always something else for us to do:
- There’s always another sermon to prepare.
- There’s always another ministry visit to make.
- There’s always another couple to counsel.
- There’s always another meeting to attend.
- There’s always another goal to attain.
- There’s always another fire to put out.
- There’s always another lost person to reach.
- There’s always another event to plan.
- There’s always another leader to develop.
- There’s always another vacancy to fill.
- There’s always another benevolence need to meet.
- There’s always another prayer request to pray for.
- There’s always another mission trip to coordinate.
- There’s always another commitment to keep.
- There’s always another book to read.
- There’s always another problem to solve.
There’s always something else to do. It’s no wonder that pastors and ministry leaders sometimes lose sight of why we’re ministering and whom we’re doing it for.
Trust me; I’m a task-oriented guy, and I love the feeling I get whenever I check items off my To Do List. But I also know what it’s like to get caught up in the tasks of ministry and lose sight of who and why I serve in the first place.
That’s why I needed this reminder. Perhaps you do too.
If you are currently serving as a pastor or ministry leader, I hope you’ll take some time today to stop and reflect on the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of your ministry. Who are you serving? Why are you serving?
These sound like simple, straightforward questions. And they are. But just because they’re simple doesn’t mean the reminder isn’t needed. The fact that the answers to these questions are assumed is precisely why we’re so prone to forget them.
The “Who” of Ministry
First and foremost, we serve the Lord Jesus Christ. We owe everything to the One who knew no sin yet became sin for us. To the One who purchased us by His own blood. To the One who redeemed us, adopted us into God’s family, and called us to serve as ministry leaders. Our primary aim is to bring glory to Him.
Second, we also serve the Bride and Body of Christ. Those who are imperfect (just like us) but have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (just like us). Those with whom we will spend eternity praising the Lord. Those who serve the Lord in different ways from us – but still serve the Lord nonetheless. We are called to equip the saints for the work of ministry.
Third, we serve those who do not yet know Christ. Those who are still dead in their trespasses and sins. Those who are still God’s enemies. Those who will spend eternity suffering God’s wrath unless they repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We are ambassadors for Christ, and we must represent Him well to a lost and dying world that desperately needs the salvation that only He provides.
Finally, we serve our families. No one sacrifices more in the name of “doing ministry” than the pastor’s wife and children. I’ve heard it said many times that a church can find another pastor, but your family can’t find another husband and father. Yes, sometimes you may be called away from a family activity due to an urgent ministry matter, but too often, we sacrifice family time on the altar of ministry. Paul asked, “If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5) In other words, if you don’t serve your family well, you won’t serve your church well either.
The “Why” of Ministry
The “why” of ministry is the gospel – the good news that Jesus Christ (and Jesus Christ alone) can save us from our sins and reconcile us to God the Father. We proclaim this gospel to those who are lost and need to be saved.
But we also proclaim this gospel to those who are saved. Once we embrace the gospel, we’re called to live it out. Although we are not saved by good works, we are saved for good works. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the One who purchased us by His blood and has called us to do those good works in His Name until He returns or calls us home.
So, the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of ministry are important. We are, after all, God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. But we cannot separate those good works from the Person (Jesus) and the purpose (the gospel) behind those good works. If we do so, we become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal, and our works mean nothing.
If you serve as a pastor or ministry leader, I know you know these things. I know these things too. But I’m prone to forget them, and I need to be reminded from time to time. Perhaps you do too!
Photo by Rahul Shah: bit.ly/3IKDxmR