(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 9)
Many people who attend Church and are in Church memberships today are quite busy doing what they call ‘ministry’, many of them occupying social media platforms, the television and radio to do so.
Thankfully, some of them are genuinely engaged in God’s work, being genuine Christians, having been given the work to do by the Lord and him having gifted them accordingly. Such persons do the work as humble servants of God and not with ulterior motives, like gaining recognition or making money. May God bless all such persons. For, as the writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible noted of such persons, “…God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.“
Unfortunately though, there are so many people running up and doing, engaged in all sorts of activities that they claim is ‘ministry’, when this is not at all the case.
First of all, it is impossible for any person to truly be engaged in ministry, if he or she is not GENUINELY SAVED.
Even if such a person is self-deceived and the whole Church believes that person to be a believer, if that person is not (and thankfully, God knows), no amount of work with good intentions, could ever make what they do ‘ministry’.
Ministry is reserved for only those who are regenerated and therefore have God’s Spirt indwelling them. Jesus Christ himself stated in Romans 8:9, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
A person that does not have a true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be involved in ministry. They may work hard and what they do may seem to be yielding ‘results’ but the fact of the matter is that as persons that have never genuinely come to the foot of the cross and accepted Jesus Christ into their lives, all of their effort in the flesh, does not amount to ministry.
Secondly, ministry I believe, must be GIVEN BY THE LORD. He equips those who are in his army with certain gifts, talents, knowledge and experience and he then gives them the work that he will have them to do.
They don’t choose the task. He does. He may have them use their gifts alone in getting the work done or in conjunction with talents, their knowledge and experience, all of which he has graced them to have.
That it is God that gives the ministry was evident in the case of Saul who, after he had an encounter with Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus, wa renamed Paul. When he realized that Jesus was Lord, he had only one question, understanding that he was the Lord’s servant. He asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). He was then given his instructions, which he went on to obey.
Later on, in Acts 13:2, as he taught along with Barnabas at the Church of Antioch, it says, God gave him further work, which he reserves the right to do. Wherever he has his children engaged in ministry, he can intervene at any time, to send them on a fresh mission or to give them something else that he wants them to do. It says in Acts 13 that, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.“
It is therefore the Lord that calls his children to the specific ministry that he has purposed for them to do and he equips them accordingly. They don’t get to pick and choose as they think fit and other people can’t put them into ministry if God has not endorsed it.
In 1 Timothy 1:12, Paul stated, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
Sometimes God equips his children with abilities and giftings that they themselves were not aware they had, until God was ready to use them for His work.
We saw this with Moses, who tried desperately to avoid God’s call with excuses as to his inability. He claimed and probably genuinely believed that he was not a good speaker and therefore was not a good choice to go before Pharoah to represent the Israelies. He told God, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Yet, in Acts 7:22, it says of Moses, in reference to when he was still in Pharoah’s Palace, that “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.”
Similarly, in Judges 6:15, Gideon, not thinking much of himself, found God’s call to him, for the work that he had appointed for him to do, to be incredulous. He did not think himself capable or equipped and so told the angel of the Lord who had appeared to him “Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Yet, in referring to him before he had even began to doubt, the angel of the Lord spoke to him, mindful of what the Lord had put in him for the very purpose for which he was now being called. He therefore told him, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” (vs. 14)
In verses 14 and 16, it further states:
- “And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?…Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”
Importantly, God made reference to the fact that it was He (God) that had called him to that particular work. He told him “…have not I sent thee?” If God has not sent us, then what we are engaged in, without God’s enablement is in our flesh and cannot be regarded as ministry.
Thirdly, ministry that is given by the Lord to one of his children, has nothing to do with the person or with appeasing people but is FOR THE LORD’S DIVINE PURPOSE.
People have many reasons for doing things in the Church. Some do it to wield control, while others like to be seen by others. There are those who do what they do merely to compete with other Church attendants or because they think that there is some gain to be had, like monetary gain, or recognition. Then there are those who have no desire for doing what they are doing at all and can’t say truthfully that they ever felt led of the Lord to do what they are doing but they have felt pressured by the situation and people to do it and so, they took up the responsibility by force.
Personally, I do not believe that the Lord will ever give a Christian ministry, that is not about exalting, promoting and pointing people in the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is always the end goal because Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth and The Life. He is the Chief Cornerstone and the one upon whom the Church is founded and based. The Church has been given life because of Jesus and continues on because of Jesus. If you’re busy doing stuff under the guise of ‘ministry’ therefore but it has no bearing on and no relation to the exaltation of the Lord, then what you’re doing dear friend, is not ministry at all.
If for example, you claim to have a ministry about love relationships (which many claim to have) but the Lord Jesus Christ never comes to the fore in your so-called ministry and you never tell folks that the most important relationship to have is with the Lord and warn them of coming Judgment and of how they can be saved and if the guidance and advice you provide is not based on wisdom derived from the Word of God (the Bible) but mainly consist of your own ideas and opinions, then what you are engaging in is not ministry, at least not ministry endorsed by God.
God is all about the promotion of his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, which brings Him glory. His Word says “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry…” (Psalm 2:12). When God gives his children a work to do therefore, it is his intention that Jesus Christ will be at the fore and that He (and nobody else or anything else), will be given the pre-eminence.
I can certainly attest to these three (3) factors, in this ministry in which I have been engaged. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I did not give myself this work. I believe that God called me to it. Under the ‘About’ section of this Website, I have given the story of how the Website came to be and how I ended up writing these Articles. I made excuses for some time but eventually, the Lord had his way and I did what I never thought in a million years, I would be doing. Yet, as Ephesians 2:10 points out, I am part of his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he before ordained that I should walk in them.
The fact that ministry is all about Jesus Christ has also been reinforced many times while writing. There are Articles that I would begin to write that were all about the Lord Jesus Christ (like those featured in the ‘Abundant Life Series’ under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ page). However, there were those that I set out, intending to write about a topic that I felt the Lord had laid on my heart and in the midst of writing it, God found a way for me to effortlessly insert the gospel message of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, into it or to remind believers that Jesus Christ and his Word was the solution to the issue and in a manner where it fit in perfectly with the theme of the Article!
It seemed that in my writings, all roads led right back to Jesus Christ. It was clear to me that God intended to use my writings, whether on love relationships or some other topic, to promote the name of Jesus Christ, even when I did not start the Article intending to put the gospel in it or to present Jesus specifically, as the solution to a problem, in it. I may have merely intended to put principles from God’s Word in it but before I finished, I had outlined Jesus as the way to salvation (for unbelievers) and the solution (for those who already believed on him).
I am therefore amazed when I see and hear people who profess to be Christians, claiming to have ministry for women and offering them coaching, guidance and pointers for love relationships and being a success in life and finding their purpose but never see the need to mention Jesus Christ at all or minimally and never point these women, many of who are desperately in need of God’s love (and not a man’s), to Christ.
Some of these people, claiming to be Christians, refer to themselves as ‘Christian Dating Coaches’, ‘Relationship Coaches/Consultants’, ‘Holistic Success Coaches’, ‘Behaviour Modification Technicians’ and all sorts of fancy titles.
It is my view though, from what I know about God’s character, what I’ve seen in his Word and from my own experience, that what they are about is not genuine ministry. It may look like it on the surface but the litmus test is always whether it gives the Lord Jesus Christ his rightful place and therefore, whether that person points unbelievers and believers alike, to the Lord Jesus Christ.
What other way is there to be successful than to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and to take heed to his Word? How could a person begin to find purpose in life if they haven’t found Christ and if we claim to know Him, then why are we being negligent in not leading them to Him? What earthly love or relationship could ever be more important than having, building and strengthening one’s relationship with the Lord? Which earthly man could ever love God’s daughters as much as Jesus Christ does? What techniques and earthly wisdom are being imparted to people with grand promises that this will result in women finding a quality man, having children and living happily ever after, if you have not begun to expound to them the Word of God, the principles in it and how God wants them to live? How can you claim on the one hand to know how to lead people to achieve success, while not emphasizing obedience to God and pointing people to the source of sucess, which is his Son?
If you are busy giving food to the poor but you never point them to Jesus Christ by giving them the gospel message, if you never tell them that you are a Christian and that the Lord loves them and wants a relationship with them, can what you are doing, really be regarded as ministry?
You are doing a kind act, yes and this is commendable. The Lord expects us to meet the physical needs of the poor. Yet, how is what you are doing, different from an ungodly person or a secular charity group, also reaching out to the poor? What makes what you are doing different? What makes what you are doing ministry?
It is my firm view, that it is insufficient to refer to activity in the Church as ministry, if it only provides for a physical need. Ministry must, of necessity, also aim to provide for people’s spiritual need, which is far more important than their physical needs. People’s spiritual need of salvation, which is available in the Lord Jesus Christ and of edification for the saints are the most important. I believe that all genuine ministry efforts, whether it be geared at youth, women, families or other groups and people in general, start with this in mind and aims to keep the Lord Jesus Christ at the forefront of all endeavours. In submission to God’s enablement and plan therefore, activities are designed so as to promote and exalt HIM. The success of that ministry is then measured by the extent to which Jesus Christ was promoted and glorified.
Ministry that involves giving to the poor then, may include the distribution of written material containing the gospel, like a tract or an Article. Instead of just giving food to a homeless man and walking away, the giver may say, “I am giving you this in Jesus’ name”. The giver will also try to be available, in the event that the recipient is open to listening, to share the gospel verbally with the man.
Yes the message of God’s love is demonstrated through the action of selfless giving but as Romans 10:13-14 points out, people still need to hear the gospel. It therefore needs to be presented to them.
The scripture states:
- “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not HEARD? and how shall they HEAR without a preacher?“
Verse 15 underscores my earlier point of ministry being given by God. It says of those who are giving the gospel, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
In conclusion, much of what is bandied about today in many churches as ‘ministry’ is not ministry at all, the three (3) requisites not having been satisfied.
Firstly, only those who are bona fide Christians qualify by God’s grace, to be engaged in ministry. If a person is an unbeliever, even if he is in the Church membership, is well educated, respected and articulate, even if he has the best of intentions and works quite hard, what he is doing is not ministry.
Secondly, if God does not call a person or approve of a person doing a particular work, even if that person is saved, I am not of the view that what they are engaged in can be called ministry.
When the Lord told Moses to speak to the rock and instead, he hit it, water came forth as God had intended but his act, although people benefitted from the water that gushed forth, cannot be regarded as ministry (Numbers 20:8-11).
Ministry is an act of worship, as an outpouring of one’s relationship with the Lord. It should therefore be premised on obedience. Moses did something but because God did not endorse the action and had in fact, given him other instructions, his disobedience cannot be regarded as ministry.
Thirdly, we are fooling ourselves if we claim to be engaged in ministry, where there is no avenue through it for Jesus Christ to be glorified. If what we are busy doing does not in any way point people to Christ, then what we are doing, even if busy, is a waste of time. Given that Jesus is the Word, it would also not be ministry if we claim to be doing work for Jesus Christ, without turning people’s attention to the Bible and what it says on matters. For, people cannot be truly helped until and unless they come to the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience and after having come, continue on with him on obedience. We do people a great disservice when we busy ourself with activities aimed at reaching people but fall short of introducing them or reminding them of Jesus Christ, of his ways and of his requirements as Lord.
(Written on 12th January, 2024)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 98 – ‘The Real Meaning Of Ministry’
- Note 111 – ‘What I Have Learned About Obeying God’s Call In Ministry’
- Note 183 – ‘The Beauty Of Being About The Father’s Business’