Sometimes ministry becomes such a part of our lives that we aren’t sure where we end and our ministry begins. That’s a terrific feeling when ministry is going well, but can be devastating when it’s not. Regardless of the season you’re in, it is critical for you to remember that you are more than your ministry.
To help you think through this, let me suggest three ways this is true.
1. You are more than your ministry calling
It is not uncommon for Christians to wrestle for quite some time over whether God has indeed called them into full-time ministry. This is wise and should not be taken lightly. Even once someone is serving in their ministry, they should continue to discern their giftings and aspirations as they continue to verify their call to ministry. With so much of our lives being involved with and impacted by this calling, it can be easy for our identity to become too heavily intertwined with the call.
This is unhealthy for three reasons:
- A call to ministry can be misunderstood.
- A call to ministry could possibly change throughout its duration.
- A call to ministry could even come to its appointed time for completion.
If we believe our identity is found in the calling, we are going to be left confused, aimless and discouraged when that calling changes or has completed its season.
The Bible is clear, however, that when we rightly understand our identity to be found in Christ, and our calling to Him alone, it is not subject to change, and we are able to live out that identity through any situation.
Before you were called to a ministry, you were called to be a disciple of Christ. If God has called to plant a church, it is vital to remember that you are not primarily a “church planter.” Instead, you are a disciple of Christ who has been called to plant a church. Regardless of the outcome of the church, you are still a disciple of Christ. This is true of any ministry, vocation or undertaking.
This truth allowed the apostle Paul to maintain his joy and confidence whether he was preaching in a synagogue, making tents or chained to a prison wall. He knew that although his situations may fluctuate, his identity was firm in Christ from the first moment He was joined to Christ through faith.
Regardless of the state of your ministry calling, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” and since you are more than your ministry calling, “when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3-4).
Long after your ministry is completed, your calling to follow Christ will remain.
2. You are more than your ministry labor
I remember what it was like to be part of a football team. I was expected to be at every practice, every game and every team meeting. However, that wasn’t all. I also was expected to put in time individually in the gym, learn plays and eat healthy. To not give 100% in any of these areas was seen as a lack of commitment to the team. In other words, I was expected to show my commitment to the team by doing more.
So often, we treat our ministry as our way to show commitment to God and His “team.” Generally, this comes from worthy motives. We want to give ourselves completely to God and the natural tendency is to seek to do this by doing more “ministry.” The danger in this is that we may be giving ourselves to our ministry, rather than to God.
Perhaps you have preached a sermon on Mary’s wisdom to sit at Jesus’ feet compared to Martha’s anxiety over her to-do list. Have you forgotten to preach this to yourself? It is good to sit at the feet of Jesus. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Rest in Him. Enjoy the company of those He has put around you. In other words, worship Him in ways other than busyness.
You are more than your ministry labor and you must remember that when the Father looks at you, He doesn’t see an employee; He sees His child.
3. You are more than your ministry results
We are, no doubt, a results-driven society. Fear often abounds in corporate jobs full of production quotas and performance evaluations. Aside from that, we are constantly told that if you worked harder, you could drive a nicer car or have a nicer home.
Sadly, we often allow this same mindset to beat us down in our ministry. We may preach the gospel faithfully Sunday after Sunday and see very few new believers to baptize. Attendance is low at prayer meetings. Tithing is down. It doesn’t look like you will ever have your own building. If ministry were a results-driven industry, you would have a real reason to hang your head in shame. But ministry is not a results-driven industry; it’s an endeavor driven by faithful obedience!
According to the Bible, you cannot make one hair on your head white or black (Matt. 5:36). You can’t force the Spirit to convert someone’s heart (John 3:8). You cannot cause spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:7). And God does not expect you to do any of these things. God expects you to steward your gifts and resources wisely for His glory and His kingdom. As we see in the parable of the talents, the servants who were rewarded were addressed as “good and faithful,” not “statistically productive servants” (Matt. 25:21,23).
The same is true with you and your ministry. Trust that God will do more through your faithfulness than you could ever do for Him in your own strength. As a faithful servant of Christ, you are more than your ministry results.
Published September 12, 2022