-Here is the second part of my post from last week-
Once someone shared with me that she spent the day helping a friend. Part of our conversation went something like this:
“It was so rewarding to meet a real need in her life. God used me to help her with practical tasks that were necessary for setting up her business. Because God has gifted me in administrative work, I want to use it to help people who struggle with that. We were both encouraged and thankful at the end of the day. This business will help her family so much. Today almost felt like ministry.”
“It was ministry.”
My friend’s work that day didn’t come with a Christian job title. There was no applause from an audience. But it was ministry—a genuine act of service motivated by the love of Christ. It was something real with a far reaching impact into the lives of people. The woman’s business would help her family and the surrounding community. The opportunities for God to change lives through the business this family was starting were endless.
I’ve met a few people who’s lives are beautiful examples of loving God and others. I’ve learned so much from watching them grow deep in their relationships with Christ while reaching out to the people around them.
Here are some of my favorites:
A few years ago, I attended training with my organization. An instructor with years of experience in the field, complemented by a charismatic personality, was brought in to teach our group. His stories captured our attention. The training was relevant, engaging, and very hands on. This man has trained international workers in organizations all over the world. It was a blast and because of his effective techniques I’ll probably always remember what I learned. But his “behind the microphone” moments did not impress me as much as who he was when he didn’t know I was paying close attention.
(I grew up seeing lots of “important people” behind lots of microphones. Many of them thought they were saying the best words in the world. Even when it was good, most if it sounded the same to me. I like to look a little deeper at people).
What impressed me was that after the training, I saw our instructor in his own home, helping his wife lift a heavy trash bag from the bin in their kitchen. He was listening to her intently. He was helping her.
His home life is set up very well. It is not fancy, but it effectively serves his marriage, children, and the community of people his family works with. And it isn’t a show for his guests. It’s real. He gives the same level of attention (or better) to his wife and children that He gives to his students. His wife feels he always tries to do this. He seems to know that every part of his life is lived before God and therefore every part of it is important. Any situation where he is around people matters. Whether he is prepping international workers for their lives abroad, homeschooling his children, or helping his wife take out the trash, he wants to live with an attitude of love and service. Though he never gets it perfect, he understands the reality of what is called “ministry.”
I know a doctor who loves people well in the name of Jesus whether he is in his office training future doctors or making dinner with his family. My friend is a retired physical therapist who has changed lives on the job and continues to change the world through serving her family and friends. A couple with grown children have mentored Daniel and me for several years. Some of their life experiences share strong similarities with ours, especially living overseas and understanding several kinds of loss we’ve been through. They give their time to us and to others who have experienced deep grief and difficult transition, because they know it’s a part of life God cares about. Their love has changed our marriage and family for the better. It has helped us learn how to nourish and protect the core of our lives so that we are able to reach out to others well in our new country.
Last year, Daniel and I met a fast food manager who considers every interaction with his employees an opportunity to teach them about their Creator. We had a lovely afternoon sitting in his restaurant talking together before we headed to the airport. We all gleaned encouragement that helped us continue in the activities of the day. I’m friends with a mom who makes her home a place of unconditional acceptance, along with loving discipline. Her children thrive because they feel safe to be themselves and learn from their mistakes without judgement. Another friend has picked lice out of peoples’ hair on several occasions. She worked in a children’s home. Not many people know about this part of her life because it didn’t involve a ministry title or publicity. (Although now my mind is concocting all kinds of funny ideas about what her work would be called if it did involve titles. I know she would enjoy inventing funny titles with me, like “lice extractor.” 🙂 ).
Our family knows a pastor in the USA who prioritizes connecting with people on a personal level whether he’s speaking to them from a microphone or talking with them over coffee. I feel deeply blessed to have spent time with a woman in South Asia who is a retired nurse. She spends her days in remote villages helping women deliver their babies. You’ll probably never hear about her work on the news or hailed in magazine articles. That’s not why she does it. She loves God and wants to serve His children with her skill set.
I had a neighbor who liked to clean out his elderly friend’s refrigerator. He wasn’t part of an official “help the elderly” program. He just wanted to serve her the way Jesus did. When she got sick, he sang at her bedside. His help meant so much that the family asked him to sing at their mother’s funeral, even though they had never met him. They felt they knew his heart because of their mother’s stories about him.
Once my brother-in-law took time to help my husband start our car engine in the pouring rain, even though a few minutes later he would need to facilitate a men’s Bible study in his home. He seemed to think both tasks were equally important.
I’ve learned a lot about life, what God’s love looks like, and about ministry by watching people like this. The genuine heart of love and service, more than the specific activity, is what made an impact on me. It caused me to think about what loving God and others could look like in my own life circumstances.
Jesus ministered to crowds and to individuals. He dined in amazing homes with the wealthy and also cooked fish on the beach for his disciples. He spoke with God the Father and with little children. He shared God’s truth in synagogues with the religious, but also at a well with a woman everyone else disapproved of. He was a carpentry apprentice for a while. He was a guest at weddings. He had to do the stuff of daily life like the rest of us. In everything, He prioritized God and people. He showed us that every part of life is important to God. Every part of life can be for honoring Him and serving others. Occasionally I wonder if some of the ways Jesus spent His time would be considered far from the realm of “professional” or “respectable” ministry by mainstream Christians today.
At the heart of my life, I want to hold loving God with all my heart and loving my neighbors as myself as the most important thing, because people are created in God’s image and they matter to Him. I’m not capable of producing the kind of love Jesus can. I’m human. That interferes with my ability to love. Even though the desire to love God and others is sincere, I can easily get distracted, stressed, tired, or angry. Genuine love is produced in me by the Holy Spirit. And it’s far more than a fleeting emotion.
Our family is beginning to thrive in our new country. Our relationships with people in the community are starting to deepen a little. I’m so happy and looking forward to what God will do. But I’m also a little nervous because I’m aware of my weaknesses and the fear that stirs in me when new relationships begin to deepen. But He is stronger. So I’m asking God to keep my eyes open for His work in the lives of my family and community. I’m praying for courage and wisdom to know how to join Him in it.
Thanks for reading!
©2018Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
I really appreciate what this man has written. I think the attitude he describes is a weed that can grow in anyone’s life. While it looks a little different for each person, it happens to us all sometimes. We have to uproot it more than once.
- Fighting the Tyranny of Ministry Success, Ben Stuart