Servants of the Lord, I SEE YOU!
Recently I have been reflecting on what it takes to make ministry happen. I have been in full-time vocational ministry for 16 years. This past year has been a new and different season, unlike any other, and it has me thinking. I work hard at ministry and most ministers that I know work hard. They put in countless hours doing administration, counseling, discipleship, teaching, running programs, visiting people, and on and on. But there is one thing I have learned in all my time in ministry…I cannot do it alone.
For a while now I have sought to live out Ephesians 4:11-16, it is my ministry theme verse. 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
This verse so clearly lays out that all saints (that is believers) are meant to do the work of ministry. The goal of the minister is to unite, teach, train, and shepherd the flock so we can perform the ministry. The outworking of that is spiritual maturity. Have you ever thought about that? When a minister performs his God-given role of leading and training, the church is blessed. When saints engage and do the work of the ministry, that is building up the body of Christ, they are matured in their faith. All the things listed in verses 13-16 come from the church working this way. It is so important that a minister works hard for the Lord to fulfill his calling and it is equally important that believers work hard in ministry.
That being said, we have a wonderful church that engages in ministry. In fact, when I started this article, I simply wanted to say thanks! I try to look for ways to show appreciation for our volunteers. I know they sacrifice so much for the ministry. I know that I do not show my gratitude in sufficient ways. How can I? What is acceptable for someone that sacrifices time, money, and skills? There is no gift great enough, so today I simply want to say...I SEE YOU!
- Senior citizens using your golden years to serve the Lord. You are using the time you could be relaxing, but instead choose to serve. You are the lifeblood of the ministry – I SEE YOU!
- Single Moms that are juggling work, kids, school and now church. You have so much on your plate and your extra time is limited. The fact that you spend it serving the church humbles me. You have my heart – I SEE YOU!
- Moms in general, work so hard to take care of their families. You make sure your kids learn and grow; you work, teach, feed, clothe, clean, and then come to church and serve so faithfully – I SEE YOU!
- Dads, we often feel like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. The pressures of work, projects, and family can be overwhelming at times. When you give your time at church, I know that it is no small sacrifice, so I say to you – I SEE YOU!
- Unseen and unknown servants that fill our food pantry or care for our children during a worship service or do countless other things that go unnoticed. No one may ever know what you do but I want you to know that I could not be an effective minister without you. You serve with glad hearts and are content to go unrecognized, but I want you to know – I SEE YOU!
To those servants and the countless others, I love you and I SEE YOU! I see what you are doing, and I want to say thank you! The Lord is pleased by how you serve, and you make our church a more faithful God-honoring church. As we look to 2021, we do not know what will happen. It might be another crazy year, however there is one thing I know for sure…we will do ministry that honors the Lord and builds the body. You are a huge part of that, do not ever underestimate your impact. No matter how small the task, God sees you and is pleased!
Happy New Year & God Bless!
Servants of the Lord, I SEE YOU!
Finding Contentment in Spite of Covid Fatigue
Do you have Covid fatigue? It has been a long year and for most of it Covid has been the top concern. Many of us have been worried about it, and rightly so, by now we all know someone that has been greatly affected by this awful virus. I understand there are many opinions about this subject. If you ask 10 people about it you will get 11opinions. I’m not here to argue about the virus or how to handle it, I simply want to discuss the fact that it seems many of us are fatigued.
Recently I have thought back to those early days in March and wish I had a time machine so I could go slap myself for being so naive. I thought this thing would only be here for a few months and then we would all get back to normal; however, as we now know, that is not true. There have been waves of things looking good, then bad, then good again, then really bad, then just plain awful. I don’t think any of us know when this roller coaster will end.
I have bristled at those that kept saying “new normal”, maybe it is just my naivety again. I was hopeful we could return to normal, but now I am not so sure. There was so much to love in the old way, so much certainty. I could make plans, travel, hold events with reckless abandon, and by that I mean without social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer, etc. In one sense the stability was amazing, but it also lulled me into a false sense of security.
This year has caused me to get creative in ministry. I have had to learn and grow in many things, especially digital media. I have had to build new routines and systems for ministry. I have also had to be extremely flexible, especially with volunteers. I never know when someone will call to tell me they are quarantined for two weeks. Covering classes and nurseries has become an Olympic sport.
All of this has taught me to hold on to my plans loosely. Of course I am still making plans. I am planning programs and events, but I also know that things could change. This goes against everything within my type-A personality. It has made me realize what is really important— to depend on the Lord, and look to others for help. I feel like Hawkeye from the TV show MASH, a seasoned, grisled pro only caring about what truly matters and not sweating the small stuff; also trying to find humor in everything as much as possible.
From my perspective, God has been teaching me what contentment looks like. Just like Hawkeye, I also relate to another seasoned pro from the Bible, Paul. Paul is a great example of contentment in difficult situations. I love what he says in Philippians 4:11-13.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
I have learned to be content in ministry. As long as I can still proclaim the gospel, make disciples, teach the Bible, reach out to the community, and encourage the church I am content. How I do it makes no difference, just because it is not the way it has been, doesn’t mean it can’t be God glorifying.
The point is to be content no matter what. We will get through this together and we will hold each other up. When I am down I need you to encourage me, I will do the same for you. If you have a need I must do my best to meet it and likewise if I have a need. This is the time that Christians should thrive. We should not be discouraged because we have a secret weapon, we know the Lord. We can do all things through Jesus because He gives us strength. Jesus is our secret weapon to being content in spite of Covid fatigue. So if you are struggling, turn to Jesus first, then turn to the church. I am here for you! Reach out to me at . God is good and He will carry us through this season, however long it lasts, even if it lasts much longer than we want.