Before I started my “ministry” I always thought it was for special people. It was for individuals ordained by God to do wonderful work to encourage others to do good things in this world. I believed ministry was for a select group that were gifted to teach others about Jesus so, when they went back to work or home or school, they will be equipped with the scripture and Jesus and were “safe”. I am so glad I discovered that entire idea was wrong!
For some reason in the Church we have a sense of “MINISTRY!!!!” and maybe-stry. Many of us have had a time where we felt we weren’t doing enough. We have watched others actively serving the Lord, sharing the gospel, teaching at an awesome church or working at a non-profit and longingly wish to be able to join them in “MINISTRY!” However, while we do that we miss the ministry right in front of us.
We see formal ministry and miss the informal ministry that God has given all of His followers to enjoy. Jesus’ encounter with several people in scripture proves this point, but I will focus on Zacchaeus’ story found in Luke 19:1-9. Jesus find Zacchaeus (Zach for short) hanging out in a tree trying to catch a glimpse of the great rabbi. Zach was a tax collector that had ripped a bunch of people off and was disliked by the majority. Jesus saw an opportunity and seized it, like He always did, and asked to grab a bite with Zach at his house. Zach’s story changed at that point. Zach took the time with Jesus, realized he did some wrong and shared he was going to repay everyone he ripped off and even give up half of what he owned. This is a great story of redemption and renewal of heart and ministry was in the mix.
Zach saw the need to give up half of what he owned to help others. He was going to reconcile any differences he had with people and make things right in their relationship. He was going to actively do ministry because of what Christ did for him in his life. So, wait, he must have stopped being a tax collector and became a full-time missionary, right? There is nothing that suggests that. He stayed in his position, but his heart for people and ethics changed. He set an example for others around him by paying people back and giving up some of his wealth. His ministry was visible without needing a title or role change.
Some may see this as a stretch, but think about who you are. What are you doing? Are you in a formal ministry role? If so, then awesome and may God bless you and your work. If you aren’t, which most aren’t, recognize your role as a person with a renewed heart, mind, and soul and work to set an example for others as a follower of Christ. You don’t have to change your career, you don’t have to build a pulpit in your house (that would be freaky), and you don’t have to find a place to do ministry. Zach knew his ministry started where he was, and it goes the same for us. There is no maybe in our ministry; it is a definite, wherever we are.