Ministry is the fourth book in the Transforming Life Series. In Ministry, believers are prepared to discern how God wants them to serve the body of Christ.
We have been discussing your ministry vision for various roles and the corresponding action steps. In this session, you will present your own life vision and listen to that of others. These presentations will summarize each person’s ministry vision statements and action steps for the group. It will be a great time to encourage and build each other up.
Individual Aim: To present and listen to the “Life Vision” presentations.
Group Aim: To support, counsel, and encourage fellow group members in their ministry visions.
Read Sessions 8–10: Life Vision Presentations.
With the following guidance, prepare a “Life Vision” presentation.
Have you ever known people who were “naturals”? Perhaps they could play the piano without training. Maybe they had great athletic ability without coaching. Or maybe they could paint beautiful pictures without having been taught the fine points of visual art. These people’s skills are impressive precisely because they are so unusual. The rest of us have to put in intentional sustained effort in order to acquire such a skill.
For some people ministry comes naturally, but for most of us it requires intentional sustained effort and discipline. If we are to live lives of service, lives “worthy of our calling” (Ephesians 4:1, net), we must make plans and discipline ourselves to implement them.
Ministry takes discipline simply because it requires an others-centeredness—an “ours for others” attitude that runs counter to the “ours for ourselves” mentality that pervades our culture and often our own hearts. As Christians we are redeemed people, but we are unfinished. The Holy Spirit is transforming our longings and allegiances, but we are still susceptible to the self-centered patterns of the world and the flesh.
Such ingrained patterns can make us view our work as just a means to accumulate wealth, power, or prestige; or conversely, we might see our employer as the one who withholds from us wealth, power, or prestige. We come to view our work in terms of “What can I get from them?” or “What are they keeping from me?” It takes discipline to transform our thinking and practice to reflect a “What can I give?” mentality. What can I give to my employer so as to honor God? What can I give my coworkers because God has put me here to meet the needs of people He loves? As we ask and answer these questions and implement concrete action steps, we will minister effectively in our workplaces.
Similarly, we might read a book on the differences between men and women but focus only on finding out what we need from our spouse. It takes discipline to overcome this self-centered tendency and focus on what our spouse needs from us. It takes effort to try to meet those needs, whether our spouse is meeting ours or not. It takes planning and follow-through to minister to a spouse, especially when we don’t feel like it.
When we implement concrete action steps, we move from intuitive ministry to intentional ministry. Intuitive ministry is ministry we find ourselves doing because something within us (the Spirit perhaps?) prompts us to do so. Perhaps you strike up a conversation with a coworker because you feel a burden for him and discover he has a need you can address. Or maybe one of your friends from church comes to mind, so you drop her a note of encouragement and find out later that she really needed it. It’s a great feeling to know you have touched someone’s life in this way.
However, the problem with intuitive ministry is that it’s haphazard and dependent on fluctuating feelings. We can easily miss great opportunities to minister if we aren’t struck with just the right feelings at the right times or if we fail to actually act on what we intuitively sense we need to do.
Intentional ministry, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on feelings or intuition. It involves careful consideration of how best to minister in a given context. It takes consistent action on behalf of those whom we seek to serve. It involves intentional sustained effort, but it’s worth it because it has the power to transform lives.
Intentional ministry involves asking and answering questions such as these:
• Within each context, what are my roles? (See session 3.)
• In each of those roles, what is my level of involvement and what are my responsibilities?
• What are the needs of those to whom I relate in these roles?
• How can I practically and effectively fulfill my responsibilities and meet the identified needs, given the resources God has given me?
Asking and answering such questions helps us develop action steps so we can minister intentionally.
How might it affect a lonely person at work if you made it a discipline to go out of your way just to stick your head in his or her office, smile, and say good morning every day? How might it affect a neighbor whose husband just left her if your family invited her and her kids over for dinner on a regular basis? How might it affect a friend who you know needs Christ if you simply asked him if you could pray for him and then did it? How might it affect your child if you carved out a significant amount of time every week and devoted it only to him? The transformative power of intentional ministry is tremendous. To experience it, we must develop practical action steps, discipline ourselves to carry them out, and ask the Spirit of God to empower our efforts.
Now you’re ready to put together your “Life Vision” presentation. Take the information you accumulated in the “Ministry Vision Statement” exercise and the three “Life Vision: Action Steps” exercises and organize it into a fifteen-minute presentation.
Use whatever approach you like to communicate your vision. You may use props, such as photos of some of the people you will serve. You may hand out lists of your action steps so the group can follow along as you talk. Your presentation need not be elaborate; impressing others isn’t the goal. Make sure your presentation takes no more than fifteen minutes.
Read Session 11: For the Glory of Christ.
Complete Biblical Exercise: Romans 15 beginning on page 69.