This is a guest post by Anna Latshaw. I followed this up for my Leadership Team with a 60-minute question and answer time by Anna herself.
I’m Done with Doing Ministry! Are You?
Ministry. What feeling does that word evoke? Is it a dirty word? Are you burned out? Do you feel taken advantage of. Maybe in your heart, you’re even “done” with ministry?
If that is the way you feel, could it be that you have fallen into the trap of doing ministry?
How’s this mindset switch?
What if we were created to not gain a sense of BEING, out of DOING. But to DO out of a sense of BEING?
When we try to do ministry before we know who we are – we will gain identity from ministry and that’s not healthy. Authentic, life-giving ministry flows out of a secure identity, an already established identity, a comprehensive understanding of who we are in Christ.
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them.
Can you see the order this verse flows in? We are to know: That we have been created by God, in a very intentional and expert manner. That we are empowered by Jesus to do good works. That God has already prepared us for the purpose He has created us for. When that is the case, our good works or ministry will flow out of who we already are and what He has done. Our being!
As John 7:38 says: He who believes in Me, from his innermost BEING will flow rivers of living water”.
As we seek God – to know Him and become more like Him – ministry becomes a natural overflow – not something we do or manufacture. It’s not a title or position – it’s an authentic and continual overflow of our relationship with God.
It’s not contrived and it’s not something we put on & off. Ministry isn’t a compartment of our lives. Our lives minister. We comfort others with the comfort we have received. Out of our bellies flow rivers of living waters. Those who have received much, will give much.
Think about a Rolex watch. A Rolex costs so much money because of the fine craftsmanship that goes into making it. Only watches that meet the highest standards of excellence are worthy to bear the Rolex name. But the minute (excuse the pun) a watch has been branded with a Rolex logo and put onto a shop floor for sale – that watch isn’t trying to earn the credibility of a Rolex. It IS a Rolex. It functions out of the craftsmanship and purpose it was created for. In the same way we are not trying to become children of God, loved and approved by Him, chosen for His purposes and bearing His name. That IS who we already are. Our good works aren’t something we do to gain significance- they flow out of who we are. We are branded by the creator as fully approved and absolutely worthy of His name.
Unfortunately, the problem is that, even in the church we still allow ourselves to be defined by worldly standards. Think about it? How does the world get definition about “who they are”? It’s by what they do! If you were to ask someone to tell you a little bit about themselves – probably the first thing they will mention is what they do – “Well, I am a doctor, or a teacher, or a pastor, etc.”
Every definition of self is typically a reflection of a job, a position, a relationship status, (i.e. husband, wife, single), our talents or hobbies, our accomplishments, our academic success, etc.
If we are to minister to the world – shouldn’t we have a good news message that offers something other than what they already know? “Hey, come join our church, you can come and get your sense of significance by serving in the kids church, or handing out meals to homeless people or leading worship. Come and find out how awesome you are. The more you “do” the more we will pat you on the back and give you bigger titles! Something is wrong with that picture.
No wonder there is an exodus from traditional church. We are not inviting people into a true gospel experience. We are inviting them into works dressed up to look a little more pretty. But it is works and it still equals death.
The good news is – that even if others around you aren’t living out of this sure identity in God. You still can. It’s not that we are to abandon church – but you can take responsibility to ensure you function healthily within it!
We aren’t better Christians because we do more!
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no-one may boast. Eph 2:8
It is a lie when we think that ‘doing’ more ministry makes us a “better Christian”. If we understand the finished work of the cross, the wholeness, healing, freedom and righteousness that was attained for us as a free gift by the death & resurrection of Jesus. Then we realize our righteousness is only attained through Jesus. It’s not possible to earn a free gift. It is simply to be received. The moment we truly receive that free gift – our life becomes a ministry. You now have something to offer a broken world. “I was lost but now I am found, I was blind but now I see.”\
Christianity was never supposed to be a more sanctified version of works. It is a radical encounter with a living God, where we discover that we are loved, not because of what we do; That we are successful, not because of what we have achieved; That we are approved of, not by our merit – but because of who God says we are. Because we are His child. Created in His image. And God sent His Son to die for us in order that we can be in relationship with Him & free from the crippling and merciless standards of the world.
Think about Jesus’ ministry. He is our greatest example. He never had a title. He was mostly unrecognized by the organized church. But He knew where he came from and where He was going – John 13:3. He only did what He saw the Father doing – John 5:19. Jesus’ entire ministry flowed out of relationship with God and out of a secure identity. Knowing that He was the Son of God, all power was given to Him and that His purpose was to do the will of God.
It’s as simple as that folks. You are created by God. He lives inside of you and He has empowered you to walk out His purposes for your life. Your life is a ministry. The church or ministry can’t take away from you any of your joy, sense of value or purpose if you don’t give it the power to. The only reason those things can be robbed from you is if you are trying to get those needs met through ministry. If we know our value, our joy is in serving the Lord because of what He has done for us, and our purpose is already established in Christ – ministry becomes an expression of those truths in your life.
Enjoy being who God has created you to be today. Ponder on the reality that you have the living God on the inside of you & go and be a light to the world around you in a way that only you can. And let your river flow!