Lately mothering has been demanding all the fibers of my being – my heart, mind, and body. The season I’m in, with a daughter fighting a serious health condition and a 5 month old infant, has me constantly moving and constantly praying. Right now the ministry of motherhood requires nearly every second of every day.
That’s the nature of ministry – selfless, self-emptying service in the likeness of Christ, out of love for Christ, and for the people of Christ.
Whether you’re a mom in the trenches of nurturing little ones, a Bible-study teacher in a women’s group, or a discipler in your church’s youth program – whatever ministry you’re in or are pursuing – you need the fuel of the Spirit-inspired Word to keep you going.
Sometimes we can become so lost in our routines and forget the why behind the what we’re doing. Before we know it, we can become burnt out or misguided in our motivation for ministry. The temptation to lose heart or to seek one’s own glory rather than God’s can seep bitterness into our efforts.
I’ve been there. The combination of physical weariness and endless giving can turn into self-pity if not revived with the goodness of the gospel.
Are you there? Walk with me through these verses, and reignite your passion for ministry.
Some passages are longer, and honestly, I wish I could share whole chapters with you! But alas, I’m limited in these blog posts, and I encourage you to take what you can and seek these Scriptures out in their fullness in your own time.
Ministry is worship.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
When we think of worship we usually picture singing on Sundays. That is indeed a wonderful way to raise praises to the Lord and bless His Name! But we can also worship in prayer, and as this states, we worship Him through the sacrificial work of ministry.
According to the Father’s abundant mercy to us in Christ, we are now redeemed daughters in His Kingdom, and in gratitude we respond by offering our life for His service. We don’t minister to earn God’s or anyone’s favor, but to exalt Him. When we serve we proclaim that He is good, He is worthy, He is Lord.
Just as Jesus exemplified, living for God takes sacrifice. Our spiritual worship requires presenting all of ourselves to God – our time, our energy, our heart. Remember in the ministry of motherhood or any ministry that sacrifice is an act of worship. Real ministry asks us to not conform to the world, but to conform to Christ. We’ll see more on this next.
Ministry is servanthood.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…”If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:1, 14-17
He loved them until the end. What a statement, and what a legacy that we can strive to share with Christ.
As much as we need bodily rest while working in ministry, we also need to reset our minds on our Savior. Often I find meditating on the example of Christ more reinvigorating than any nap!
By returning to the moment where Jesus washes feet, we remember humbling truth: no work is below us. In fact, sometimes the most glorious, most loving work is the dirtiest. What’s esteemed by God is not usually esteemed by the world.
True ministry is becoming a servant to all. Ministry can take us to places we wouldn’t expect or want per say – like changing the diaper and sheets of a sick child in the middle of the night, crossing the doorstep of a dear sister in Christ who has lost a loved one, or flying overseas to reach a people in a land where the gospel is forbidden.
When ministry is difficult or lowly let’s embrace it, knowing that there we may be most like Christ, and there the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us will give us the power to do it.
Ministry is God-given responsibility.
And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:7
It’s easy to equate ministry as volunteerism, or an activity you sign up for at church. Since many churches have departments like “youth ministry” or “children’s ministry” we can fall into a mindset of seeing ministry as optional.
Yet if you expand ministry to relationships it becomes something not chosen, but given by God. Ministry is relational and received.
Motherhood is ministry, because the Lord has gifted and entrusted those children through biology or adoption. Marriage is a ministry of cherishing the person you are one with. Friendship is a ministry. Hospitality is a ministry.
Whether it’s caring for your husband, home, kids, coworkers, roommates, or church family, the Lord has imparted to you people to love on as He loved you.
Although we don’t know exactly what Paul was speaking of when he told this to Archippus, we see that ministry is a blessing graced upon us by God, a blessing to take hold of and fulfill with fervency and faithfulness.
Ministry is genuine and gentle.
For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8
Paul asks the Thessalonian church to recall his attitude among them – that he was not there for his own gain, but theirs. He pastored among them with affection, gentleness, and generosity – not merely explaining the gospel and leaving, but showing deep care for their lives and well-being in the faith. He weathered through thick and thin alongside the believers of the early church as they came to the terms with the truth of their sin and need for a Savior.
Paul is a superb example for us. Our aim should never to “seek glory from people” – even from the people we serve – but to help them walk by faith. This takes more than words, but our presence, our patience, our perseverance, and our willingness to share their pain.
Ministry is not speech, it is giving of ourselves. As a mom I’m reminded that it is not enough to teach, but to share my whole self with my children through heartfelt service.
Ministry is knowing Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:8-12
To close, we find ultimate motivation for ministry when we consider its end – Christ Himself in glory. Like Paul, we can loosen our grip on the things of the world that beg for our attention, and tell us to give up and only serve ourselves. We can forsake any fancy titles or pretty possessions or easygoing lifestyles when we remember that our goal is knowing Christ.
Jesus is worth our every waking moment, our every second of toil. He gave us His righteousness and the power of His resurrection, and we have the privilege to “share in His sufferings” and die to self along with him that we may live abundantly now and in paradise forever. Our service for Him is never for nothing, it is rewarded with eternity with Him.
Not only this, but we will dwell in heaven not just with Jesus but with those we ministered to.
Paul says elsewhere: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19
What a joy it will be to see those we walked beside on earth, who believed through the Spirit’s work in us!
We may not be perfect, we may grow weak in ministry, but we have a perfect God who equips us and upholds us every step of the way. We press on in ministry, because we are Christ’s.