Your Life is Your Ministry

puzzle.jpgIn front of me are the first two issues of a new journal.  The
journal is entitled "Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care."
One of the first articles I read was by Keith Meyer (Church of the
Open Door, Maple Grove, Minnesota).  Meyer wrote a few paragraphs that I
found nourishing and encouraging.  For example:

I now teach pastors that
formation is essential because your life is your ministry and your
ministry is your life.  It is not just a prerequisite for ministry or a
condition for ministry or a line on your resume or on a job description
calling for character.  In my ministry to pastors and leaders at our
church this is a great leveler between clergy and laity.  Although
giftings, office, and call are important, they are not as important as
the authority of your life and its transformational power.  (p. 226)



I read this quote once and then read it again.  I highlighted it in yellow and came back to it once again.  My life is my ministry and my ministry is my life I am called to live out of my own authentic life in Christ.  This speaks volumes as to who I am called to be before Christ and the world.  


I am not called to live a transformed life because it looks good on my resume or because it makes a difference in the quality of my preaching/teaching.  I am not interested in spiritual transformation because this seems to be the thing to do if I am going to stay current.   The point of a transformed life is not to get me somewhere in my work with a church.


The reality?  Every man and woman in Christ is called to live out of an authentic life in Christ.  This life is my ministry.  My ministry is my life.  This morning as you are at home with your family, your ministry is already happening.  As you go to work, your ministry is already being lived out.  Your ministry is happening wherever and whenever you live and are present in another’s life.


Ministry does not begin with an assignment at church.  It does not begin when you take on a program or a "ministry" at church.  Ministry does not begin when you have an office in your church building or when you keep office hours.  Ministry does not begin when you have a church leadership role or even some kind of authority that seems to go with your "ministry."  Ministry does not begin when you are the center of attention at church.   


Some people who talk about authority in the church, in reality, have such little true authority because of the massive gap between the reality of their own lives and what they want to project before others.  Meyer is correct.  The authority of one’s own life and its transformational power are critical. 


The good news? 


The fulfillment that one finds in such ministry is not grounded in success, statistics, visibility, or some stroke of the ego.  The real fulfillment of such ministry is in finding satisfaction in God alone.


What do you think?   What difference might such a perspective make in various churches?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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20 thoughts on “Your Life is Your Ministry

  1. It would make a huge difference if churches subscribed to this idea – that my ministry is my life.  Sadly, most churches are not set up in a way that fosters this idea. Not only for ministers, but for the folks out in the pews.  Hence the old saw that in any given church "10% of the people do 90% of the work," which I actually heard stated recently at the church I attend.  Ministry only counts if you are doing it through the auspices of a particular church "program."  Sheesh!  (Sorry about the negativity – you struck a nerve here!)

  2. i’m sitting at home for a bit because of a school delay. I’ll leave, drop off our HS senior daughter, pick up our college senior son who will drive me to my job as an executive pastor (he’s driving because our third car is in the shop today). My wife is at one of her jobs with an agency that helps other 501(c)3’s get donated supplies. And I’m trying to figure out how to handle the delays and get to the office for my real work, which will be interrupted by a staff Christmas lunch. But all of that IS my real work, as you are wonderfully reminding me. How I talk with God about the ‘interruptions’, the car repairs. How I talk with my kids in these two wonderful times in the car that I wouldn’t get otherwise. How I have fun with our staff. How I take this time to read this post…and reflect, and encourage others.Thanks, Jim. 

  3. I like this…of course i do, it lines out with what my husband and I have been discussing daily……we are in the world working not ministers and yet our lives are our ministry….thanks can anyone subscribe to the publication you mention?

  4. Connie,I had this same conversation with a friend who is an attorney and sees his vocation as a calling.  He attempts to serve his clients as a ministry.  He prays for each of them and endevors to serve them as Christ would.   Yet, part of his frustration is that this is not considered "legitimate" ministry by his church.  Hmmm.

  5. Becky,Sounds like a good conversation with your husband.Yes, anyone can subscribe to this.  You might want to look at some of the other articles in this journal that are online to get even more of a flavor for this.Thanks for your comment.

  6. jnswanson–The description of your day sounds so familiar.  I think a lot of us could relate to this.  I know I could.As you say so well, this is our work.  How do I handle life as it is?  (Instead of waiting for life and ministry to happen?)  Thanks so much.  Hope you will comment again.

  7. You’ve done it again, Jim. Thanks for the needed reminder. I think about my own walking-around life and realize that it IS the ministry that I am called to, and it is a gift that I will be held accountable for. Thanks for yet-another thought-provoking post.

  8. This is a quite interesting post…and, I do find a similarity of expressional thoughts when it comes to richness of authority in a church , OR  "the unfortunate have nones". A febble life observed rather…..Matthew 23:27-28  My writings on this subject many times before it seems; this type of poor ethical behavior only creates a grave insecurity before fellow parishioners–causing severity of doubts , and disengagements and withdrawlments from others.  If there is indeed such a tremendous gap between "the reality of a pastors true life; his childrens involvements-and the wifes".  Yipes. Perhaps this church might assume a responsibility too proper Christian continual  education…… before casting anymore doubts , and ferocious critisiums continual on others.  This is incrediably unfortunate, but, is so often seen in huge undesirable forms to say the least.  This sort of  hinderance suggests a great damper relationally on the "Truly gifted with their own Ministries" often entailed .  Sad, but true.  I do believe individually  we are our own ministry-Our lives–each one–God creates for a purpose-called His.  Whether frownd upon by some insignificant leaders-sometimes they almost seem too want to hide the gifted-like a closet case; rather than in a light to help and encourage others perhaps dying from the inside out….sad.      As for Lawyers!….I recently heard at Willow Creeks Community Church,  an incrediable speaker -unbelievably brilliant with a testimony of "Why" he works/lives to protect the oppressed-the abused-trafficted child without a choice, living a life of fear. An amazing ministry he has ….. an amazing leader he is!  Impressed I was for His work beyond wonder…great disciple -a lawyer, go figure for God this man is!  Wow!  Blew my socks off!!!!! Again!

  9. I’ve not read all the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating something already stated, but a huge difference I think this would make would be to move the focus from institutional maintenance to personal ministry. Now that I’ve stepped out of the pulpit and been to numerous churches in search of a church family where we can be used in ministry, I’ve noticed so much energy expended just to maintain systems and make sure people know why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do. I suppose there is a place for that, but I’m really not seeing it these days.Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas season, Jim. Thanks for all you’ve done through this blog to challenge and encourage me. I love and appreciate you, brother!

  10. Linked to you again, Jim. Your topic is pivotal and yet often only noticeable to those on the "outside". Why is it that those who are more in touch with the non-churchy folk are sometimes suspect to those who are "really doing ministry"?I am a discipler serving in a church setting as well as being a part-time chaplain at a secular university and having a women’s refuge in my home. The non-churchies at the uni don’t give a bean about what I do with the church, but they see credibility in my life because I give a leg-up to women who are in transition or rehab. Recently a run in with malignant melanoma gave me opportunities to talk about mortality with the good folks at the uni. How I responded to the unknowns of the diagnosis was far more important than my seminary degree or theological stance on anything. It’s what New Zealanders call, "the coal face", the nitty gritty reality of life everyday. They watch me, everyday, to see if I understand the realities they face. Then they’ll listen, but only if my vocab fits their context. I love the Church, but the salt and light need not be focussed there.Thanks, Jim, for validating the ministries of so many effective Kingdom servants who draw their salary from non-church sources.

  11. Rahab,Thank you for your comment.  You made some very, very good points.  In particular, I want to thank you for your report regarding this lawyer’s presentation at Willow Creek.  Very encouraging.

  12. Jill,What a wonderful comment!  I am very glad to hear about your life and ministry.   Sounds like you have a powerful ministry both in the church and at the university.Sorry to hear about your bout with melanoma.  I was encouraged as I read that you used even that time to be salt and light before others.Again–a wonderful comment!

  13. So all these bumper stickers are true.
    Be the change you seek.
    We don’t care how much you know until we know how much you care.
    Interuptions to our work are our work.
    I can’t hear what you say because I’m seeing what you do.

    • Larry,
      So good to hear from you! I like what you said here– “Interuptions to our work are our work.” Well said! Thanks so much. I hope you are doing well.