So after a couple of random entries, I’m ready to get back on track by answering my second question from the earlier post: What is ministry? There are many kinds of ministry that we’re all familiar with, and different ministries will immediately come to mind for different ones of us. Pastoring, teaching, serving the poor, evangelizing — these are all tremendously important and valid aspects of our life as the body of Christ. However, there is one that we, as the Western Protestant church, generally tend to overlook: ministry to the Lord.
It’s somewhat of a disarming term. After all, God needs nothing from us. He’s not insecure, wounded, or incomplete without us. Yet He invites us to minister unto Him. This is not merely about rendering service; this is about entering into a real and meaningful fellowship with the Most High God. It’s truly stunning to consider.
All believers are exhorted to boldly share our faith, but only certain believers are called to be evangelists. All believers are to care for one another, though only some are appointed as pastors. All believers are encouraged to prophesy, but there are specific people called as prophets. In the same way, all believers are to minister to the Lord in worship, prayer, and devotion, but some are specifically called to minister to the Lord as their full-time vocation and primary ministry in life. I believe that this is my primary calling.
In the Old Testament, this was the foremost purpose of the priesthood. They were about more than slaughtering sheep and keeping the temple running; their job was to minister to the Lord. “My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him and burn incense” (2Chr 29:11).
In the New Testament, we see this with Anna, a prophetess in the Temple at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36-38). This woman had given the overwhelming majority of her life to fasting and prayer, never leaving the house of the Lord. Upon the early loss of her husband, she surrendered herself fully to ministering to God.
Jesus told us that the first and greatest commandment was to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:20; cf. Matt 22:37; Luke 10:27). According to Jesus, this is top priority for the people of God. In fact, it is out of this reality that the second commandment flows: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Loving our neighbor (more traditional service-oriented ministry) functions best when the first commandment is being energetically pursued. In fact, we see that Anna, our New Testament “minister unto the Lord” lady, was among the very first evangelists. It was out of that place of prayer that she was able to see and recognize the coming Messiah, and she “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
This is where the preaching comes in for me. As a student at FSM in the Apostolic Preaching Program, God has really put it in my heart to teach, preach, write, and otherwise communicate the Word in the future. That’s part of the reason why I blog, in fact; it’s really good for me to practice communicating what I’m learning in the Lord, and giving voice to little rants and burdens that I feel in the place of prayer. Yet even with this being, I believe, a part of my calling, I am an “Anna”… my first priority is to minister to the Lord in worship and prayer. I love what Allen Hood has said about preaching — that when he preaches (even at a big conference like onething), it’s a step down from the place of prayer. He sees his highest and most effective ministry as being worship and intercession. I love that mindset, and the longer I give myself to it, the more I’m convinced that it’s very true for my life.
And before I get ahead of myself, this is the perfect place to leave off for part III, coming in the next couple of days. The new track of Fire in the Night gets in this afternoon, and so my blogging time will be a bit scanty for a while… But part III will come. Eventually. 😀