Shows Main Idea – When there is a conflict between a family event (visit, party, babysitting, etc.) and a ministry event (counseling, visit the jail, home group, church meeting, etc.) and if all things are equal, does ministry to those outside family come before family things? Does a Christian’s lifestyle prioritize family over ministry?
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What comes to mind when you think about the word ministry? Does that word create a dichotomy in your mind or a singular worldview? If you segregate ministry as “out there somewhere” rather than “everything you do,” you have a wrong view of ministry.
People who believe and practice ministry as a dichotomy tend to err in one of two extremes:
They neglect the redemptive needs of their families as the minister to the world.
They focus on themselves while not ministering to others.
Ministry is one thing that encompasses all of your life? Meaning, your family is just as much part of your ministry as anything you do for the church.
Because ministry encompasses all of life, there are priorities and a sequence to ministry. The most important priority and the beginning of the sequence is with yourself. If you do not prioritize your life, you will not be able to minister well to anyone.
You cannot export biblical transformation to others if transformation has not happened to you. True biblical missions begin in the “missionary’s” heart.
Jesus did not come here to give us a ministry, but to make us transformed ministers of the gospel. One of the bigger problems with the compartmentalized view of ministry is it can relegate a person’s thinking about ministry to a specific time, place, and activity. You will hear this idea when someone says, “This is my ministry.”
The compartmentalized worldview tends to draw two kinds of people:
The lazy person who wants to focus on a ministry function while not putting as much effort in the redemptive care of all their relationships.
The driven person who wants to “build a ministry” in a specific or unique way while not putting as much effort in the redemptive care of all their relationships.
You must factor in your “season of life” into your everywhere, all the time ministry. E.g., a young mom with three kids under 7-years of age should not feel guilt for not being able to serve more in the church. She has a powerful “ministry” tugging at her all day long. A man working 60 hours a week trying to establish his family should not feel a similar guilt because he “can’t do more” for his brothers and sisters.
Know your ministry priorities:
Self – You must take care of yourself.
Family – You must take care of your family.
Work – You must provide the material necessities for your family.
Church – You must live in community with other believers.
World – You must be taking the gospel to all the world.
Always remember the Lord does not need you. You’re important and there is always work to do, but you’re not so vital that your absence will stymie the gospel.
Learn the redemptive value of saying “no” to some things in your life. Read through the four Gospels, and make a note of all the ways and times Jesus said “no” to people. You see Him saying “no” to His family (Matthew 12:48), a young man asking for salvation (Matthew 19:16-26), his friends asking Him to heal their dying brother (John 11:5-6), and His “inner circle friend” who demanded He not fulfill His mission (Mark 8:33).
Call to Action
Do you have a compartmentalized view of ministry or an “all of life” perspective? What is the difference between the two?
How much does fear of man affect your decision-making? Does people-pleasing tempt you to say “yes” when you mean “no”?
Do you know how to make a biblical decision?
Do you know how to “walk in the Spirit” as evidenced by your ability to make decisions “on the spot” the way Jesus did? If you do not know how to do this, what are the things that clutter your thinking?
Do you know how to calendar plan? A significant aspect of imitating a gospel-centered life is the ability to plan your life? God is a planner, and His plans don’t collide or create confusion. Imitating (Ephesians 5:1) this aspect of the gospel is essential. If you don’t do this, it would be helpful to find a friend to teach you how to plan, which may mean working through the sanctification hindrances in your life that inhibit you from making the right decisions, i.e., fear, worry, doubt, or anger.
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).