How Should We “Make Much of Our Ministry” as Paul Did – Rom. 11:13
When people are genuinely empowered and excited about their ministry they tend to make it a labor of love rather than an obligation to complete. Paul, the apostle, knew how to magnify his office without letting it become an obsession. The great apostle did not let his ministry go to his head because he knew it was a gift that God gave him for the temporary privilege of serving Him on earth. Some people see the ministry merely as a job or a means of making a living, but not Paul. Let us explore some of the ways that we can make much of our ministry in the way that pleases the Lord and allows us to bear much fruit.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.
Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor. Philippians 2:12-18.
Joe Theismann enjoyed an illustrious 12-year career as quarterback of the Washington Redskins. He led the team to two Super Bowl appearances--winning in 1983 before losing the following year. When a leg injury forced him out of football in 1985, he was entrenched in the record books as Washington’s all-time leading passer. Still, the tail end of Theismann’s career taught him a bitter lesson: I got stagnant. I thought the team revolved around me. I should have known it was time to go when I didn’t care whether a pass hit Art Monk in the 8 or the 1 on his uniform. When we went back to the Super Bowl, my approach had changed. I was griping about the weather, my shoes, practice times, everything.
Today I wear my two rings--the winner’s ring from Super Bowl XVII and the loser’s ring from Super Bowl XVIII. The difference in those two rings lies in applying oneself and not accepting anything but the best.
Reader’s Digest, January, 1992.
In The Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient, Norman Cousins tells of being hospitalized with a rare, crippling disease. When he was diagnosed as incurable, Cousins checked out of the hospital. Aware of the harmful effects that negative emotions can have on the body, Cousins reasoned the reverse was true. So he borrowed a movie projector and prescribed his own treatment, consisting of Marx Brothers films and old "Candid Camera" reruns. It didn’t take long for him to discover that 10 minutes of laughter provided two hours of pain free sleep. Amazingly, his debilitating disease was eventually reversed. After the account of his victory appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Cousins received more than 3000 letters from appreciative physicians throughout the world.
Today in the Word, MBI, December 18, 1991.
A person’s mental attitude has an almost unbelievable effect on his powers, both physical and psychological. The British psychiatrist, J.A. Hadfield, gives a striking illustration of this fact in his booklet, The Psychology of Power. "I asked three people," he wrote, "to submit themselves to test the effect of mental suggestion on their strength, which was measured by gripping a dynamometer." They were to grip the dynamometer with all their strength under three different sets of conditions. First he tested them under normal conditions. The average grip was 101 pounds. Then he tested them after he had hypnotized them and told them that they were very weak. Their average grip this time was only 29 pounds! In the third test Dr. Hadfield told them under hypnosis that they were very strong. The average grip jumped to 142 pounds.
Bits & Pieces, May, 1991, p. 15.
Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation’s deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.
Steve Goodier, Quote Magazine, in Reader’s Digest, May, 1990.
The noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them this question, "What are you doing?" The first replied, "I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day." The next answered, "I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job." But the third said, "I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals."
A chaplain was speaking to a soldier on a cot in a hospital. "You have lost an arm in the great cause," he said. "No," said the soldier with a smile. "I didn’t lose it--I gave it." In that same way, Jesus did not lose His life. He gave it purposefully.
1. Paul made much of his ministry because He knew it was gift from God. When you realize that your ministry is a gift and a commission from God you will tend to think more as a steward than as a businessman. People in the corporate world are apt to get stressed out when their business is not succeeding. When we feel that we are going to fail in any endeavor we suffer from fear, anger or feelings of distress. Paul, however, knew that His ministry to the Gentiles was a gift from heaven. He saw himself as being a steward of a valuable ministry that the Lord entrusted to his care along with the Holy Spirit’s gifts to accomplish the work He had been given. Therefore, Paul did not lose heart. When we know that the ministry, the relationships and the activities that we are given are a gift from God’s hand we will not tend to get proud, over controlling or stressed out when things do not turn out the way we like.
2. Paul made much of his ministry because he approached it with a prayerful heart. By approaching the ministry with a prayerful attitude Paul let the battle be fought and won by the Lord. It is often when people try to accomplish things in their own power that they fail. Ask the Lord to help you pray, “Lord, help me soar with you for you have healing, strength and wisdom in you character. God help me realize that the battle is not with flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. Help me to look past the natural and focus on the supernatural Lord. God, help me to do everything for your glory instead of my own or to try to impress others. Help me to focus on the things above rather than on things of this earth.” Paul prayed in a way that He committed Himself to the Lord and all aspects of His ministry. Statistics tell us that more than 50% of evangelical Christian in America do not read their Bible and have prayer every morning. No wonder so many are living in defeat or ineffectiveness. Paul’s ministry enjoyed great blessing from God because in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving he made his requests known to God in prayer. Follow the prayerful example of the apostle Paul if you want to make much your ministry, relationships and activities.
3. Paul made much of his ministry because he knew how to forgive others. The great apostle could have easily become bitter toward those who were persecuting, but he forgave others as Christ had forgiven him. There was a recent study done on the benefits of forgiveness for healing and good health. “Forgiveness Boosts Health; Effect Varies with Age
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - To err is human and to forgive divine, according to the old adage, but humans who forgive are known to experience significant physical and mental health benefits from doing so. Now researchers report that these beneficial health effects appear to vary by age, along with the willingness to forgive others, the willingness to forgive oneself and the feeling of being forgiven by God.
``Taken together, our findings emphasize that forgiveness is a multidimensional phenomenon,’’ write study lead author Dr. Loren L. Toussaint of the University of Michigan and colleagues. ``There are age differences in some forms of forgiveness and in their relationship to health.’’
Their conclusions are based on survey responses from more than 1,400 adults during a 5-month study period.
In general, young adults (18-44 years) reported that they were less likely to forgive others than middle-aged (45-64) and older adults (65 and older). They were also less likely than older adults to believe that they had been forgiven by God, the investigators report in the Journal of Adult Development.
Among survey participants of all ages, however, reports of forgiveness of themselves and others were associated with decreased psychological distress, including feelings of restlessness, hopelessness and nervousness.
Further, young adults who reported high levels of self-forgiveness were more likely to be satisfied with their lives, whereas middle age and older adults who reported high levels of forgiveness of others were more likely to report increased life satisfaction.
But not all foregiving is immediately beneficial, the findings suggest. Proactive forgiveness-asking for forgiveness, rather than granting it--was associated with increased psychological distress among all study participants. Other acts of proactive forgiveness would include asking God’s forgiveness for hurting someone or praying for someone who has hurt them.
The researchers speculate that this may be because such proactive individuals are ``’taking the first step’ in the process of forgiveness,’’ which may lead to heightened stress.
In other findings, attendance at religious services was associated with decreased psychological distress, particularly among young and middle-aged adults, and increased life satisfaction among young and old adults. Service attendance was also associated with higher self-rated health among all age groups.
The study was partly supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.
SOURCE: Journal of Adult Development 2001;8:249-257.
4. Paul made much of his ministry because gained a great sense of dignity, inspiration and fulfillment knowing He was being used by God for a cause that would impact eternity. When a person knows that they are involved with a ministry that is going to make a lasting influence, they tend to work with higher motivation. Paul wrote, “And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Tim. 1:11,12) Trust the Lord to give you more of this Pauline perspective so you will be filled with great inspiration, dignity and fulfillment in your ministries, relationships and activities.
5. Paul made much of his ministry because he did not waver in doubt or unbelief about God’s faithfulness, His word or His Spirit’s leading. No wonder God used Paul in such powerful ways since He was fully convinced that God had the power to perform what He had promised. (Rom. 4:20,21) Do not waver in doubt fearing that God might not come through for you. Let the good Shepherd take you through fiery trials for His greater working in your life and in the lives of others. Know that God is purging all that is not of Christ out of your heart. It may feel uncomfortable at the time, but allow God to be the potter remembering that you are the clay. Do not run away from God’s chastening hand or panic thinking that you cannot withstand the hardships of the ministry. Know that God will provide a way of escape so that you can bear up under any difficulty with His mighty power to not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21) Fight the good fight of faith knowing that the enemy wants you to give up the fight and drop your sword and shield and run. Today is not time to retreat but to gird up your loins and press on even stronger against the enemy.
6. Paul made much of his ministry because he knew that God would give the victory. People are embolden when they know they are on the winning team. I remember when I was a young boy cheering on the Green Bay Packers because I had confidence they were a team of winners. When a person simply trusts, obeys and loves the Lord we can be assured that God will always give the victory regardless of the outward appearances of our situation. Paul followed the great example of Joshua who knew that he was sent to be a deliverer. Even though Paul saw giants of opposition in the political, religious and cultural leaders of his day he did not retreat. Press onward and upward for the call of Christ Jesus as Paul did. (Phil. 3:14)
7. Paul made much of his ministry because he turned every seeming tragedy into a triumph for Jesus Christ. We should all remember that even though the fire gets hot, it will not burn those who are walking in protection of His grace. Be assured this day that God will take you to the other side. Let God take you over the next hurdle, and you will never have to go back to this spot again if you hold on
to what you have and do not let go. Paul knew that God had given him a rich
inheritance and victory through the Lord Jesus Christ. He reminded himself of the promise from God’s Spirit, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself. I can do everything God asks me to do with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” (Phil. 4:12,13)
8. Paul made much of his ministry because he knew of the success, provision and happiness in doing God’s will in God’s way. There is joy in serving Jesus, but there is an overwhelming sense of confidence when we know that God’s will done in God’s way will not lack God’s support. (Hudson Taylor founder of the China Inland Mission) When the ministry belongs to the Lord you can be assured that He will let your cup overflow with good things. Thank Him in advance for all the success, provisions and happiness He will supply to those of you who are involved with His ministry.
9. Paul made much of his ministry not his own ego. It is tempting to allow the ministry to go to one’s head. Paul did not make that mistake because he wrote, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, but not I but Christ who lives within me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) When we have died to ourself we are alive in Christ Jesus by faith. We live a life that is empowered, enabled and energized by faith in Christ Jesus. Ask the Lord to help you to not let ideas of self-importance cause you to think too highly or yourself, but think with sound judgment as God has allotted to each of you a measure of faith. (Rom. 12:3)
10. Paul made much of his ministry because he knew that was no other work as valuable as winning and discipling people for Jesus Christ. Even though it may seem exciting to be making $70,000 a year in a prestigious job it means little unless it contributes toward the expansion of His kingdom and righteousness. (Matt.6:33) A famous writer once penned these words, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Paul’s ministry freed people from bondage to sin, self-destruction and eternal misery in hell. Can anything equal that in importance? To turn a soul away from the errors on their ways and point them to a life of spiritual usefulness is one of the greatest joys in life. Paul prized his ministry because he knew that any other work would pale in comparison. This must be the most awe inspiring mission that a human can engage in. Let us trust the Lord to help find more effective ways to make much of the ministries God gives us.