“Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?”
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest.)
Many years ago we had friends who struggled with their son. He had a very difficult time following and obeying simple instructions. Many other friends thought that this young man was the most kind and helpful kid. When they would arrive at the house, this young man always answered the door with a polite greeting, “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. So in So. May I help you carry anything inside?” Unfortunately in seeming to be helpful this young boy was actually being disobedient and rebellious. You see, his parents had asked him time and time again not to answer the door. Many times when he had been given specific instructions to stay seated and finish his school work or even was supposed to be sitting in time out he would leave and go answer the door or go do something else. His actions seemed noble and lofty, but in reality He was being disobedient.
Sometimes we act this way too. We DO a lot of things in the name of God, but we are NOT really doing what He has asked of us! Instead of following God we do what others ask or expect of us or worse we simply feed our own ego by making ourselves look good in the eyes of others.
What makes matters worse, in ministry, people expect to see you doing lofty things that seem impressive. They ask questions like, “How many people have you led to Christ this year?” or “How many boys do you have at the orphanage?” People want to be impressed and often expect that if what you are doing is not impressive to them, then it is not worthwhile. When in fact this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When the God of Creation has asked something simple of us we can actually be walking in rebellion and encouraging pride by doing something that seems more lofty. Be cautious to follow His instructions no matter how simple they appear, in doing so we become pleasing to the Creator. (And shouldn’t that be our goal? Not to be pleasing to others, but instead, we should long to be pleasing to God.)
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 CORINTHIANS 10:31”
“Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God”
Excerpt From: “My Utmost for His Highest.” Oswald Chambers
As a missionary there are seasons that are more busy than others. Sometimes there are exhilarating moments and days of traveling, meeting new people, working long hours, solving problems, meeting needs and sharing Jesus with others. These days I “feel” like a true missionary. I “feel” like I earn my keep and am worthy of the financial support that so many sacrifice to provide for us.
Then there are other days when life is routine: days when I wash clothes, clean house, cook meals and home school my children. It is easy on these days to allow the sinful thought to enter my mind: “You’re not doing enough, you don’t work hard enough, you’re not worthy.” But in my heart of hearts I know that the seemingly shallow aspects of my life are indeed ordained by God. I know what a privilidge it is to serve my family and teach my children.
When we first became full-time missionaries I can remember feeling left out when teams would come and instead of going with them to do a “ministry” project, I “had” to stay home with the girls. It took me many years to realize the gift God had given me in allowing me the opportunity to stay with the girls. The girls were and are my ministry. In fact taking care of our girls was a very special God given ministry that no one else but me could do.
Don’t be discouraged by your apparent lack of ministry. Instead look around you and ask God to open your eyes revealing to you the ministry that is right under your nose. When He does, serve Him faithfully no matter the circumstance trusting that He has ordained even the shallow aspects of our lives desiring that we live them for His glory.
“We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a “doormat” for others—called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior.”
Excerpt From: Chambers, Oswald. “My Utmost for His Highest”
Part 4I’ve been writing lately about learning to differentiating between working for God and working with God. I have also mentioned the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say “No”. While doing so I have assumed that most people are the first to volunteer and actually have difficulty saying “No”. While this is true for most ministers, it is not true for everyone. For some, saying “No” comes easy. In fact, there are a good number of people who are so well versed in The Art of Saying “No” that, “No” is the only thing that they do say. If this is you, my friend, you must learn The Art of Saying “Yes”!
The ole adage states that 20% of the people in church/ministry do 80% of the work. If you’ve served in ministry any amount of time, you can probably attest to this being true. Just think what could be accomplished if the other 80% of God’s people learned to say “Yes”!
There is a great big world out there that is in need of someone who will answer “Yes” to God’s call. Unfortunately it is often difficult to say “yes” when saying yes means that you might have to say “no” to something else. Quite possibly you will have to give up things you enjoy doing in order to make time for something you need to do. Saying “yes” will require time, energy and most often even your finances. Saying “yes” may stretch you out of your comfort zone, and yet that might be exactly what you need to happen.
God never intended for 20% of His people to do 80% of the work. Many of God’s children have become self absorbed and rarely take time for God, let alone their fellow man. As God’s children we must learn to work with one another and with God to accomplish His ministry. Working with God requires action, and action requires learning The Art of Saying, “Yes”!
Setting boundaries is a necessary part of life and yet can be so difficult to do. For most, it is nothing more than learning to use one tiny word, the word “No”. It is amazing that many people have no idea how to say “No”! Learning how to construct boundaries by implementing this word can be liberating, especially for ministers and yet can take a bit of fortitude to put into practice.
Learning to say “No”, directly opposed the mistake of over commitment, giving vital time to bring stability in our lives. It creates essential parameters which in turn safeguard our health, marriage and family. It can also give life to true ministry: the kind where we work “with” God and not “for” God nor man. If you understand what I am saying and buy into the idea of setting boundaries in your life, you will quickly learn that not everyone appreciates them. Therefore, mustering the courage to say “No” requires effort! Because of this, setting boundaries is something that not everyone accomplishes.
Just because something is difficult, does not mean that it is not worthwhile. In fact, most things beneficial require a bit of effort on our part. So if you need to bring balance to your life or if you would like to become more effective in the ministry God has given you, I urge you to learn The Art of Saying “No”!