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The Right Kind of Ministry

February 19, 2009

I am going to be adding another portion to my (ir)regular updates. In an effort to help encourage and strengthen the church, I am going to attempt a weekly article addressing specificly our relationships with one another within the church- a bit of a small exercise routine for you to put in practice in your local church. With that in mind, here is installment one- The Right Kind of Ministry.

Service within the body of Christ is one thing that we expect to be characterized by the mind of Christ. Unfortunately, our service in the church seems to be most often characterized by pride and self promotion. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every also on the things of others.” This verse gives us very precise instructions how we should relate to one another, especially within the body. Paul gets right down to the motivations we have for whatever we do in the church. If you can honestly deal with these verses and begin to actively work them out in your life and ministry, your church will be radically impacted.

Paul mentions five things that must characterize our ministry. The first thing he says is don’t do anything with strife. That word points to vying for position, as politicians seeking after votes. Don’t do anything out of a desire for office or increase in importance. Don’t electioneer, don’t play politics, don’t do anything with a desire to be promoted. This first thing is the beginning of so many of our problems in churches. Our ministries are filled with people working out of a desire to be promoted or get some sort of official position. Stop it! You are wasting your time and wasting your ministry by serving to get promoted. There is no room for promotion in the body of Christ. Christ told His disciples the pagans run around looking for position so they can be in charge. Instead, the disciples of Christ were to be utterly unique, they were to look for ways to serve. Amazingly enough, we have turned this whole concept of servant leadership right around on its head, so that while we speak service, we act as lords. Stop it! If you want to do something in the body of Christ, become its slave. Let others in the church tell you what to do. Let others direct your life, let others get recognition, let others get benefit, let others get promoted. You become the slave. Don’t do anything for promotion or office.

Don’t do anything for exaltation of self. Paul calls this vain glory, empty exaltation. We are here to glorify God, and anything less is empty and worthless. If you are serving so that others will notice how good a job you do and give you recognition or thanks, you are serving in vain glory. Don’t do anything to be recognized. Don’t do anything for others notice. Don’t do anything that you may receive one iota of attention.

We must also do nothing out of a heart of pride. Pride is the general attitude that seeks to do anything good for self. Instead, we need to do all things recognizing our own littleness. Paul says we must do all things in lowliness of mind, never letting ourselves get to big for our britches. We must keep a constant sense of our own littleness in the work and in the kingdom.

Coupled with the recognition of our own littleness is the counting of others as more valuable than ourselves. Too often we have these two ideas backwards, we promote ourselves and diminish the worth of others. This is the world’s notion. This is human reasoning, but it is not God’s reasoning. God says promotes others, humble yourselves. Consider the great value of those around you. Look to their skills and abilities, recognize where they excel, find those areas in which they surpass you. Seek opportunity to sing the praises of others, not striving for their praise in return. Recognize just how incredibly valuable they are in this church. The analogy of the body that Paul uses comes to my mind. What part of us is truly not valuable? What part of yourself would you chose to part with, just because? Even the so called vestigial organs are important. We would not voluntarily just give up our appendix. It may have to be removed due to infection, but I imagine that none of us would sell our appendix just for the extra money. We recognize the great worth of every single element of our body. Why don’t we recognize the great worth of every element of Christ’s body? There are definitely no vestigial organs in the body of Christ. Every member has been specifically gifted by the Spirit to complete this body. Recognize their worth and practice counting the great value of one another.

The last thing Paul mentions is to keep a focus on others. This a very general phrase and I think it is given to fill in all the gaps and loopholes that we are so good at devising. Don’t go into ministry for your own benefit, with your own agenda or for your own purposes. Don’t look to yourself, look to others. Look at the things of others. If you truly value others in the church as much more important than you, then you will see their plans, goal, desires, purposes and efforts as much more important than your own. I think of James 4:1, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain.” These were Christians who were looking to their own things and not on the things of others. These believers James was addressing were consumed with self promotion and self increase. We must not be like that. We must not do anything for our self. That sums up this whole section of truth. Do nothing for yourself. Do everything for the glory of God and the benefit of the church.

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