When we are young we minister to others because we want to do something noble for God; as we become spiritual adults, we minister in order to get to know and love God. This may seem obvious to some, but it has taken me a long while to really incarnate this truth into my own life.
As someone who likes to minister to others, it has taken me a long time to realize that the whole point of ministry is the formation of the Life of Christ in us, and getting to know and love The Father! God is often much less concerned with how we minister to others, than He is about what level of intimacy we had with Him while doing so. Ministry itself then becomes our spirituality-or meeting place with God. God is always discipling us, as we are discipling others. The whole ministry process reveals His Nature!
The whole thing is a medium for our spirituality–that is a means and medium through which we relate to God. Our jobs, our projects, and our direct ministering to others–all of them are about meeting Him. Keep finding Him in and through whatever daily frames we choose to do. Let Him form Himself through each daily activity and each project-let time itself become a tabernacle of meeting. Sanctify time. Intend to meet Him in whatever activity you have chosen. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise. If something is brought “up” then let Jesus “in”. Watch Him as you work! That is the point of our activities–through all these trials our faith is being formed. We meet Him especially in the projects which bring up all our issues.
This way the father relates to spiritual adults is seen in the life of David. A friend recently reminded me that God may or may not have wanted to build a temple for His Name at that stage in history; but that He honored the fact that David had it on his heart to do so. God was like, ok David, I will partner with you in that, and provide resources and vision for this desire in your heart. It is not dissimilar to when the Jews wanted a king like the other nations, and God was like, ok, I’ll do that. Of course, they got the Saul version rather than the David version so they could be discipled into knowing His True Kingship!. In the case of David, God also augmented David’s desire with the stipulation that David himself would not build this temple. But my point here, is that there comes a stage where we become spiritual adults and God asks us, “What do you have it on your heart to do?” And God then partners with us, and offers His counsel and guidance as to how to do our heart’s projects.
He wants us to be stewards and cultivators and rulers over the fields He has given us to tend. And He wants to let us actually rule them. He is training us to be co-heirs (Galatians), and is concerned that we be discipled in this process of becoming little mini kings and queens over the earth. He enjoyed Adam’s naming of the animals. God made the animals of course, not Adam, but He bought them to Adam to name them. And I believe God accepted what Adam called these animals! God likes to partner with us, to collaborate with us is a pleasure He has. So as new Adams we get to name and claim, call forth and cultivate within the pleasant lines of our own inheritance. We get to practice co-ruling with Christ!
So our spiritual stewardship of what we are given to care for–our ministry-can then become our spirituality! The place where we collaborate with God!
Ministry itself is a means of getting to know who God is. That’s why i love it. When i was learning to prophecy, it was never that He needed me to deliver this word, though He uses it; it was always about God and I getting to know one another. Ministry is more about my own discipleship than what I accomplish for Him. That is the basic idea for me. I enjoy ministering as a way to get to know who God is, how He parents people etc. He is an amazing Lord and spiritual parent. We can learn so much about Him by how He cares for His creatures.
There comes a stage of spiritual growth, where you are allowed to manage your own domain. Where God switches His question to: what do you have on your heart? And not just telling you constantly what to do. He switches from instruction to guidance in short. This is the passage into spiritual adulthood, where you choose and He then releases resources and partners with you. This is the stage of collaboration with God. Where God becomes our Guide and not just our Instructor, telling everything to do. Where He enjoys seeing what we will do! That is spiritual parenthood as well. We are given a domain to rule, and the freedom to rule it as we see fit.
He trust us to tend what is on our land, and knows we will come to Him for counsel and guidance. Now at times He will break in, and say don’t do that one. Or like with David–ok, I’ll build a temple becuse it was on your heart, however, you aren’t going to build it. There are times when He augments our plans. But He enjoys us ruling over the fields He has given us, and learning how to cultivate them wisely.
We are not ministering because God desperately needs us. Rather as a means to our own formation in Christ. That at least is God’s core motivation–to form His Son’s Life within us, through whatever we do on earth. God enjoys us getting to know Him through ministering His Son’s Life to others. But He is always primarily concerned with us, not the great tasks we accomplish in life for Him.
When I am helping people, my eye is really always on Him, and how He is helping them, and why He is doing so in a certain manner. What does that say about God. Why is He telling this person this “word” now, and in that particular tone. In this way, ministry itself can become our spirituality. God can use a donkey to prophecy to people, but He uses us, to form Himself in us through our ministering. The helping others is a way to get to know Him and therefore love Him more thoroughly.
When we parent or mentor others, we are watching how God parents, and being amazed again at how patient, kind, strong, assuring, just overall loving He is. And so very clever, and person specific!
Lately, I’ve been thinking lots about how specifically God loves each creature. Each creature carries unique aspects of God. Even animals. We see the killer whales have this mysterious majesty; we see the little beaver has this steadfastness and clever resourcefulness. The earth declares the particular glories of God! When an animal looks into your eye, there is a specific poem of God staring up at you. My dogs have this desire to serve that astounds me. To do a meaningful task, and to try and figure out exactly what you want them to do. That is amazing God placed that in dogs.
Each creature has this. And humans have it in an even more specific frame. Each person is a complex poem of God, as we are in His Image. We have hidden layers, that only our spirit and His truly know. When we are ministering to a person with God, we are perceiving the depths of complexity of His Own creatures–his highest creatures.
I have never ministered to an angel, but they also are very complex. Humans, which I know better, are remarkable. How God loves them, is even more remarkable. By how, i mean the complexity of His application of His Own Love into the specifics of each life. Discipling another person will blow your mind about how amazing God actually is. And when you turn that knowledge of Him towards yourself, you will be astounded and the depths and complexity of His particular love for you.
I think too many see ministry as a burden or task we do for God, while He sits over there and waits to see how well we have performed. That’s not true ministry. True ministry is to meet God in the action of serving others, and in doing so to be more transformed by the Life of His Son, who is really the one doing the ministering in the first place. What a privilege to minister in His Spirit. What a cool way to be transformed into His Likeness! God uses it both to bless the other person, and to form us. It is clever how He always works in both directions. We are concerned for the other, and in my case, always want to “get it right” on how to help them best. But God is often more concerned about me and my own formation as I am focused on the other person. More and more, as I minister, i try to just look at The Father and where He is in the situation, and just learn and come to know all I can about Him through the actions of ministering. There is great liberation in orienting towards ministry this way. For it takes the false burden off of ourselves, and our ability to do something holy or perfectly.
Ministry perfectionism is a real problem. This idea that we are trying to do something spiritual perfectly for God. It puts us at the center in the wrong way for one. But also it blocks His Spirit from actually ministering to us and them! I have struggled with this in my life. Fear of not getting it perfectly–especially spiritual activities. It creates striving, but also it misrepresents who God is, which is the worse sin for a prophetic person! God is Grace filled, thankfully, and very patient with me as I worry after counseling someone, if I “got it right”. You know even if I didn’t, my real question should always be, what did I learn about You Father through that counseling time? Our goal in the end, is as it always has been; to know and love God, and to know His Love for us and all of His Creation! God collaborates with us in forming Himself both in us and in the world around us.
God is collaborative by nature, and wants to be in partnership with us. As we grow, He no longer has to dictate to us all that we are to do. He enjoys seeing how we will tend and cultivate the land, and that becomes the new medium of our spiritualities. We move into a little ruler to Big Ruler; little lord, Big Lord relationship. He enjoys giving us freedom to cultivate and learn about Him through this collaboration!