“Do you miss being in ministry?”
I’ve been asked this question a few times since leaving my position on staff at my church. It’s understandable. Since church is associated with “ministry,” and especially with being “in the ministry,” it’s not an odd question. And I’ve been on various church staffs over the past 20+ years, so it does feel odd to not be on one now.
But when I’m asked if I miss being in ministry, my answer is always “No.”
No, I don’t miss it. Sometimes I do miss being on staff…I worked with good people doing good work. But I don’t miss being in ministry.
Here’s why: I’m still in it.
My take on “ministry” is this: As Jesus-followers, we are ALL called to a life of ministry. Whether I work at a church or in a store…whether I write articles or groom dogs (*that will never happen again)…whether I work in an office building or from my sofa…WHETHER I DRAW A PAYCHECK OR NOT, I’m in ministry. And you are, too.
Loving Jesus, serving Jesus, and following Jesus means that ministry is a “life” thing. Wherever you are, that’s where your ministry is.
Have you ever wondered what your calling is? Ever wondered if you are “called into the ministry?” I believe the answer is “Yes!” If you are following Jesus, you are called into ministry. Will you become a pastor? Maybe. Will you work in a church? Possibly. But even if you don’t, you are in ministry.
In Matthew 22, a Pharisee who was particularly knowledgeable of the laws (#expert) asked Jesus which of the many commandments was the most important. (Side note: I always picture the Pharisee twisting his mustache mischieviously with a leering “I’ve Got Him Now” look on his face. Is this accurate? Doubtful.)
Jesus answers him with this in verses 37-40: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Then Jesus dropped the mic. (He did not. But if he’d had a mic, he could have dropped it.)
Jesus makes it simple. Love God and love your neighbor.
Ministry has more to do with how you’re living the life you’ve been given than it has to do with any position you hold. Your job just determines where you’ll minister.
None of this is to say that we don’t need pastors or church staff. That’s just crazy talk. Of course we need them. But, what IS crazy is expecting only pastors or church staff or people with seminary degrees to minister. Nope, nope, nope.
Know who the minister is in your neighborhood? You are. At your job? It’s you. In your house? Guess who. It’s you. Your life is your ministry. My life is my ministry.
If that sounds like a tall order, please remain calm. The One who tells us to love God and our neighbor doesn’t sit idly by while we try to with all our humanity to do our best. His Spirit dwells in us and gives us what we need to be the best ministers we can and all for his glory. Isn’t God good?! (Yes. Yes he is.)
So, let’s take a look around at our lives. Who will we minister to today?
**For more ideas about what ministry in the ordinary, everyday of life can look like, visit Shannon Martin’s website. I’m on the Launch Team for her new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places. You can get a free chapter here. Y’all…it is seriously, SO GOOD. Grab it. Read it. You’ll be blessed by it.