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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: Ministry is Not Just for the Paid Professionals

on September 26, 2013

Paul Tripp’s last message at the Revive Conference, “What does it look like to be a woman who helps women” (you can listen to it here), was another winner. His text was Colossians 3:12-17. This text is on my chalkboard in my dining room. It is one of my favorite passages. It is also an extremely convicting passage!

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I kind of wondered where he was going to go with this text, because there is so much that could be said!  As he talked through the text, I began to see. . .

He reminded us of the first part of the chapter which states that every Christian’s life has been “hidden with Christ” (v 3). We, then, put off sinful behavior and put on Christ-like behavior. Why do we call compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, love, thankfulness, peace, etc Christ-like? Because Christ was those things. Because when Christians put on Christ, they put on Colossians 3:12-17 behavior!

And this, Paul said, is the Savior’s plan for normal Christianity. Grace-living, he called it.

Okay, we’re good so far. . .  But then he nailed it when he started talking about the Church with phrases like “God’s total involvement paradigm” and “organic ministry community.”

What was his point? His point was that ministry is not to just be done by your pastor.  Ministry, making God’s invisible grace visible to others, is to be done by every believer. All the time. Every believer is called to the ministry.

 But too often we, as Paul pointed out, live our lives like we actually own them. I gave my offering this week, accompanied the church choir, worked my slot in the nursery, brought donuts to Bible study, and attended prayer meeting. I did my ministry for the week. Now, it’s the pastor’s job (this is why we pay him, right?) to prepare all the messages, organize all the outreach, do all the counseling, pray for everyone, teach & admonish everyone in the church, and be completely compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forbearing, forgiving, loving, peaceful and thankful all the time.

Wrong.

Every believer must give himself to the ministry as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. We don’t get to pick and choose when and how we want to serve and show God’s grace to others.  We can’t let fear (that we won’t measure up to what we teach) or amnesia (forgetting who we are in Christ) hinder us from ministering all the time.

“The Gospel is not an aspect of theology; it is your life,” Paul said, reminding us of Col 3:16-“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Everyone is a teacher and a counselor. When people present a problem to you or ask you a question (about anything!), you either minister the Gospel or you give anti-Gospel advice. People don’t need to know what you think about anything. They need to hear the truth.

Every believer is an ambassador of Christ, not an owner of his life. We need to live like it. We need to be willing to complicate our lives, get up early, stay up late, give up our money and time. We need to get up when we fail and are broken and watch what Jesus will do (rough quote from Paul).

Are you an ambassador or an owner? Is your life ministry or do you leave that for your pastor? Think of what an encouragement you could be to your pastor if you whole-heartedly gave yourself to ministering in your church, in your home, in every aspect of life. Think of the impact you could have on others as you let others see Christ in and through you!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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One response to “Thursday Thoughts: Ministry is Not Just for the Paid Professionals

  1. Linda Huffstutler says:

    I wholeheartedly agree! The expectations for the pastor and pastor’s wife are the same for each member. Each one must fulfill their own ministry with the gifts God has given them. Each one must give an account…each one. May we found faithful.

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