One of the words that keeps popping up in my life lately is “ministry.”
“What is your ministry?”
“How is God calling you in your ministry?”
“What are your spiritual gifts in regards to your ministry?”
Throughout the weekend at SheSpeaks (an annual Christian writing/speaking conference), one of the recurring themes my mind kept returning to is
how to identify this elusive “ministry” – after all, you can’t “get after” what you can’t name, right? It’s like the elevator pitches we were told to memorize – be able to state what you are writing/speaking about in a sentence or two. This is distillation at its finest – what is the most pure version of what you are working on these days?
Like many things in life, what I realized through all I learned is that I was making the concept of ministry harder than it truly is. In fact, I think that most of us are doing that, too. Why? Because here is how simple it is to identify your own personal ministry: Just look around you!
Your ministry is very simply and truly the person who is in front of you at any given time.
Now, I don’t mean the lady in front of you in the Starbucks line with the four page long coffee order (although it could be her if you’re face-to-face) or the harried-looking lady in the carpool line at school. And I don’t mean everyone we write for or stand in front of when we speak at a gathering.
The person who you are interacting with at any given time IS your ministry. And your ministry is simple: Kindness. Service. Respect. Helping hurting people remember hope. Crying with someone who needs the release. Praying with someone who you sense needs it. Sharing a laugh, because you know laughter IS the best medicine.
It is easy to overlook the young lady at the deli counter who slices your lunch meat every week or the guy who delivers all that pizza to your house for Bible study or even the mail carrier who works hard to make sure everything gets to the right place in a timely manner. And it is really easy to underestimate the ease of which you can brighten someone’s day (or even life) with kindness and a bit of love. Maybe your small act of service is what keeps them going after an awful day – you just don’t know, and while you may never know the impact you have on others, He does. And your influence may inspire them to do the same and replace some of the angst and despair in our world with a ray or two of hope.
Yes, we all have big things on our minds and in our hearts that we want to share with the world. But just as we need to feed the hungry with food before we fill their minds with the hope of Him, we need to meet people where they are; find the immediate need and be the help we can be; and just offer love. People want love more than they want solutions, and people want to connect and trust more than they want to be taught ideas.
What do you want most from others when you are hurting or when you’re exhausted or even when hope seems like something for everyone else but you? As humans, we are made for connection, and if we really search our deepest selves, we usually want someone to step into what we’re going through and wade through the mess toward us to say they care. This may mean getting “dirty” ourselves; we may have to listen when we don’t really have time or we may have to offer our last tissue to someone who needs it more than we probably do anyway – but it always, always means that we are living our ministry, because we are fully present and doing our part to help someone else.
Sometimes we make this so complicated, but it really isn’t: Slow down to the pace of a beating heart and just see who is in front of you right now. See what they need (and if it isn’t obvious, then take the time to ask), and do what you can to meet that need. This is your ministry; this is how Jesus lived, and it is all we need to start living more connected lives.