I’ve been thinking lately about what it would take to get me back into some kind of full-time ministry. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m considering it. But what would it take? There are parts of full-time ministry that I absolutely love. As I think back through my last ministry appointment, and some of the people I worked with there, there were definite blessings. And some of those blessings ran both ways. Yet there were heartaches and pain as well.
Some well-meaning friends would tell me that it’s always like that. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” or “Into every life a little rain must fall,” or some other blather. But my struggles ran deeper than simply a bad day or awkward situation. And I don’t want to repeat those parts . . . ever.
So, I’ve been thinking (and a few other people I trust have been saying) that it’s really about fit. I need to find a ministry setting that “fits” me. But what does this mean? I was talking to the Lord this morning about all this, and I think what’s most pertinent here is that I find a ministry setting in which the people with whom I work share my ministry values. So . . . what are my ministry values? The following, in no particular order, are a few things that come immediately to mind, all of which are driven by the presupposition that God is an active participant in all ministry endeavors, and that Jesus is the active, functioning, and directing Head of his church.
1) All ministry is relational. Thus, the one(s) with the most ministry responsibility toward a given individual are those with the strongest relational ties to that individual.
2) The need does not constitute the call. Thus, ministry is first and foremost about following God and responding to the people he has placed before you. It is not driven by putting out brush fires or doing things merely because it seems they need doing.
3) God works as we live love without agenda. Thus, our goal with people must simply be to love, and to let God do with that what he will.
4) God works most consistently in the context of real life, not in orchestrated and managed events and programs.
5) Mission flows from the disciplines of attentiveness and listening to God.
6) There is no substitute or surrogate for intimacy with God. Ministry flows from one’s sense of identity, which grows out of one’s personal relationship with God. Said another way, intimacy leads to identity leads to ministry.
7) The Lord really will speak to us and guide us if we are quiet enough to listen.
There you have it. I may adapt this or edit it or add to it as I think more deeply about it all, but at present, these are the ministry convictions and values I hold most dear.