Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)
Is your ministry significant? We all want to be able to answer “Yes!” but before we can answer it in any way we must define what we mean by “significant.” Clearly the world defines success in terms of numbers and dollars. Unfortunately that mind set has often spilled over into the church. We lift up as examples those programs which are large and growing as “successful.” The implication then is that if your ministry doesn’t include large and growing numbers you aren’t successful or significant.
Yet in the New Testament we don’t know the size of a single church. Jesus evaluates the churches in Revelation 2-3 in terms of faithfulness and purity, not size or cutting-edge activities. When His disciples asked Him who was the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus used child-like humility as the yardstick by which we are to measure ourselves (Matthew 18:1-5). A large and growing ministry can cause us to start taking credit for it ourselves. If our ministry is small we can become too conscious of numbers and think less of what God is doing through us because of them. Size may not be the most significant thing in God’s sight.
Jesus also says that those who disobey God are the least in the kingdom (Matthew 5:19). This gives us another insight into what is significant to Jesus: our obedience to Him. If we minister to one or one thousand doesn’t matter, but our obedience in the details of daily life does.
May God keep us from the sin of trying to build our own little kingdom so we can impress ourselves and others by numbers. My we not get trapped into evaluating God’s work through us by external tallies. God says if we are obedient (faithful) and humble (give Him the credit) then we are successful in His sight. Finding security in whatever kind of stats we can throw around is not necessarily “success.”
Jesus Himself only had a group of 12 men after almost 4 years. Then one of them deserted and the others fled. According to today’s standards Jesus wouldn’t be asked to speak or write, nor could He qualify as having a significant ministry. But there was none more significant for through His ministry lives were changed. If even one life has been changed through your ministry then God sees you as very significant! Don’t buy the devil’s lies that you aren’t significant. If you weren’t he wouldn’t work so hard to discourage and stop you!
Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
3 John 3-4, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
- Write down your definition of success.
- How will you know you are successful in your ministry?
- Are you growing in humility and obedience? Are those you minister to growing in humility and obedience? Then your ministry is significant.
- Make a list of lives you have touch in the last several months. Thank God for each opportunity.
- Ask God to continue to use you to touch lives for Him and vow to make that your goal, not numbers.
Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!
Posted on August 17, 2009