In this first couple of months of this full-time ministry, I noticed my working hours steadily increasing. Between all of the various activities I was engage in, I had pushed my work week to an unhealthy 55-60 hours. I say unhealthy because some (but not all) of this work was outside the the areas where I’m called and gifted. By not maintaining strong boundaries, my days lost focus. Where I once had a solid hour of prayer and Bible study built into my day, everyday, I now saw that time steadily drop to a rapidly passing few minutes. Sadly, my prayer and reading time with my wife and kids did the same. My seminary schooling has took a back seat. Rest was nonexistent. And all of this I’ve did in the name of ministry that was not as healthy or effective as it should have been. Yikes, how backwards that is; but also how common!
When Paul discusses the ministry gifts and how they function in the Church, it’s important to see that not only should the eye not tell the hand, “I have no need of you” (1Cor 12:21), but also that the eye can’t tell the hand that the hand needs to do the work of the eye. And the eye can’t tell the hand that the hand needs to work in the same way as the eye. We have different strengths for a reason, and when we work too far outside these strengths, we aren’t doing the Church any favors.
But this is not to say that the eye and hand work completely separate of one another. How hard is it to tie your shoes when you can’t see? How about cooking a grilled cheese sandwich? Typing a paper? And how easy are these tasks without hands? In the Body, we work as teams. Team ministry means we work in unison but we don’t necessarily do the same job in the same way. Instead, we work together to accomplish the mission to which God has called us.
As a hand, I think I may have gotten off task when I first started. I was trying to be a foot or an eye, or a belly button. During a couple days of rest and reflection (after achieving temporary burnout), I realize that I am best suited as a hand and should do my best to function as one. I think it’s best we all remember this because if we do, the Body will function better.
To help myself, I wrote a personal ministry purpose statement. I believe this will help me better remain on my course, and remaining on the right course will be better for me, my family, and my church. If you're curious, here’s my purpose statement:God created me and has called me to know him better and love him more. Nothing is more important. As I make this life-long journey, I am also called to teach and encourage others to do the same—that is, to know God better so they can love him more. It starts with my family then extends to others. God determines how I am to do this and I will always prayerfully seek from him the most effective means to reach his desired results. I am his servant; an instrument in God’s hand. I will not allow pride to hinder my relationship with God and his mission for me. Daily, weekly, monthly, and annually, I will take appropriate time to study, pray, and rest. As I engage in ministry, I will continually ask, “Are my actions at this very moment the best way available to teach others about God so they can love him more?” If the answer is “no,” I will return to prayer. If the answer is yes, “I will thank God.” And in all things, the Glory is always God’s alone.
Soli Deo gloria!
*The photo used in this post is in the public domain.