How are you feeling about your ministries at church this year? Sometimes, we can feel less than enthusiastic. Another year of teaching rowdy kids? Another year of leading a small group of complex people? Another year of coaxing a half-hearted congregation into singing? Another year of serving tea and coffee, or moving chairs. On top of a busy job and full family life it can leave us feeling discouraged.
Happily, it needn’t be so! In the Bible God shows us that our ministries (whatever they might be) are a gift not a punishment. Just as we have received God’s gracious gifts of forgiveness, justification and adoption through Christ, so also we have received the gift of ministry. Paul had this perspective. His apostolic ministry was given him “through God’s mercy” (2 Cor. 4:1); he was “entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel” (Gal. 2:7) and he was thankful that “Christ Jesus appointed me to his service” (1 Tim. 1:12). He puts it plainly in Ephesians: “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). He saw his ministry as a blessing, even though it was incredibly hard. Why was Paul so positive about it, even though it cost him his freedom and comfort? The main thing, I think, was that Paul saw it as a great honour to be entrusted by God with a significant task and for him, this, in itself, was a reason for thankfulness. In our western culture we no longer think a great deal about honour, but for Paul it was a great honour and privilege to serve his mighty God and Saviour. What gift of ministry has God entrusted to you this year? Thank him for it!