What is the dynamic in ministry that really changes people today?
Many people in churches are tired. Those who serve as church leaders often find themselves exhausted as they give the church their best effort and still seem to get nowhere. When I was a very young minister, I felt bewildered by the very nature of ministry.
I didn’t want to admit this at the time, but it seemed as if whatever happened in ministry was up to me.
Now I am not talking about an out – of – control ego or a desire to take credit. I am just saying that my ministry felt like a tremendous burden weighing on me and at times utterly crushing me. As a result, I was someone who loved Jesus but found little joy in my ministry.
So very often my ministry seemed like it was simply shoe leather on pavement. I had tools. I was a part of a church family. Yet, for a number of years, I felt very little joy in what I was doing. Ministry just seemed like a lot of hard work with impossible problems and long hours. Were lives being changed? Yes, God was very much at work. Yet, I was missing something. I was missing something in the way I approached this extremely challenging work. I later realized that what I was missing was a sense of the powerful dynamic that was at work in ministry. That dynamic is the work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus.
Paul stresses this in 2 Corinthians 3 as he contrasts the old covenant and new covenant ministry. In new covenant ministry, people are transformed as they turn to Jesus and the Holy Spirit goes to work on their hearts. The most impossible situation can become a situation with possibilities when the Holy Spirit is at work in the transformation. Because the Holy Spirit is the dynamic of ministry, I can no longer say, regarding another person, “He will never change.” I can’t say this because God’s Spirit has the capability of blasting away at the hardest heart imaginable!
Trying to minister without the presence and activity of the living, dynamic Holy Spirit is like trying to write this post on my computer without electricity. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Mac. I like it very much. No problem there. Yet, sitting at this computer for hours with the electrical cord unplugged from the wall will never produce very much. Trying to write this post with no electricity will never be very effective regardless of my intentions or best effort. It is the electricity that is the dynamic that makes all of this possible. I can have the best tools and make the best effort in my ministry, yet the Holy Spirit is the living dynamic who changes lives. He is the one, through Jesus, who really changes people.
Now perhaps you got this a long time ago. Wonderful. But please bear with those of us for whom this realization took some time. Bear with those of us who even right now feel crushed by the weight of ministry and who have long ago forgotten the good news of the living dynamic of God’s forever presence at work in our ministries.
I still work hard and give my work my best effort. Yet, I also live with the realization that God’s Holy Spirit is at work and is the powerful dynamic who does a work that goes beyond anything I could ever do. I want my reliance to be on him.
What is your experience with this? Have you gone through seasons where you felt as if the entire weight of the ministry was on you? Have you ever found yourself depending on yourself to change people instead of the Spirit of God?