Sunday, September 30, 2012

The 3Ps of Ministry

This week has been a particularly busy one. It has affected my time for reflection and writing. Thankfully, this week I have a friend who will be a guest preacher, so that frees me to do other ministry work. For me, writing is very much a part of my gifting and ministry work. I try to write as much as I can, but as we all know, time and environment is important. That is why I rely a lot on books. I let the Bible direct my thoughts too. Today, my anchor verse is Paul's word to the Ephesians.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (Ephesians 4:1)
3Ps of Ministry
I have always been concerned for committed members of the Church, who run the second, the third, and even the fourth mile. The more I see them run like horses, or busy themselves non-stop like bees, I marvel at the energy. Over time, there will be the state of feeling burn-out, tired, and feeling helpless at the mountain of work and the tiny number of available people. If not addressed, some will move toward discouragement and dejection. A small number even goes into depression. Finally, if the work continues to pile up, when the physical tiredness meets the emotional weariness, we have a formula for burning out. Like a candle burning up on both ends, the time will come when the whole candle disappears altogether.

As I look at the life of Paul, I am encouraged. Such a man of zeal, a man of passion in his constant yearning for the people. A man of purpose, who begins each epistle with a declaration of his identity and calling in Christ, who learns to see people from the eyes of God, I see hope. Here is the 3Ps of Ministry which I hope will encourage you, my reader, and especially the weary worker in Christ.

1) Purpose

When we know the 'why,' the 'how' and the 'what' will fall in its proper place. This is one reason why Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven-Life has made such a huge impact not just for Christians, but also for non-believers. Man is made for a purpose. The trouble is, sometimes, we forget the purpose. In fact, knowing a purpose is not just writing down a purpose or a mission statement. It is to see the SIGNIFICANCE of the purpose. Paul has seen Jesus on his journey to Damascus. It is this sight of the Divine Christ that begins it all. His eyes is so fixed on Jesus that the main part of his ministry is not the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Corinthians, etc. His main purpose is Christ. Everything else flows from that purpose. Note Paul declaring himself not simply as a "prisoner" but a prisoner "for the Lord."

Have we forgotten our purpose of being in Christ when we serve? Have we become too embroiled in ministry work that we forget about the Person of Christ? Mind you, we can serve a lot, do a lot, minister a lot, and still not be a person secure in Christ.

Check our hearts. Check our relationship with God. Caring for others begins with soul-care.

Reflection: How is your personal walk with the Lord today? Strengthen this, and your purpose will naturally be strengthened.

2) Passion

When the demand piles up, we can feel as if we are imprisoned in a cage of ministry work. Any pastor who is too busy working his heart out without adequate reflection is digging his own grave of bruning out. Worse, he may start to lose his passion for God, and subsequently the people he loves.

It is the passion of Christ that has driven Jesus to willingly come to earth, be humiliated, arrested, pierced for our transgressions, and died a cruel death. This passion drives him. His prayer life reflects this deeply.

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:35)

How can one man give up his heavenly luxury, and be humiliated so badly on earth? If you watch the movie, "The Passion of Christ," you can feel the pains of the whipping and the torturing. Sometimes you may even wonder if it is all worth it at all to die for people who are ungrateful. As followers of Christ, are we to do any less than our Master? Yes, we may not necessarily be whipped and crucified like Him, but the moment we move our eyes away from our own disappointments, to look at the glory and the sacrifice of God, our perspectives can be renewed from needless competition, to loving passion to compassion.

Reflection: Where is your passion? Radical conviction and deep compassion are the twin engines of godly passion.

3) People

Finally, Christ comes down to earth not to die for a ministry. He comes down to die to for people like you and me. Jesus is not interested in constructing big buildings made of stone. He wants to bring together the lost sheep from near and far. For as far as the East is from the West, that is the extent of His love. Not just some, but all of us.

What is worthy? What is our calling?

If your answer is a project, it is to short term. If your answer is to achieve a certain target in life, that is too limited. If your answer is a tangible benefit, that is too narcissistic. If your answer is to serve people, now you are talking. More importantly, the people ministry is about discipleship.

Our calling as disciples of Christ is to MAKE disciples of Christ beginning with ourselves. Both can be done TOGETHER. Sometimes, making disciples can happen at the self first, or for the others first, but discipleship is never about programs or processes. It is about people. Our calling is never to fight over personal principles at the expense of people.

Reflection: Ministry is more about people than principles.


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