More Encouragment
Waiting for Your Ministry

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Divinely ordained diversity

We all know that humanityís first ministry was nude gardening. (Genesis 2:15, 25) It worked. It had Godís blessing. Yet Ė I hope Ė we feel no compulsion to emulate their approach to ministry. Nor do I see many people trying to organize their own crucifixion to replicate the most powerful ministry earth has seen. So why try to steal anyoneís ministry style? We would end up looking as ridiculous as skinny David clunking an erratic course in Saulís ponderous armor. (1 Samuel 17:38-39)

Youíre a unique work of God. Only a fool would vandalize Leonardo da Vinciís priceless works by trying to turn them all into Mona Lisas.

God is most elevated, not by a hundred imitations of the latest Christian superstar, but by a hundred common folk each being true to their unique calling. The result will much more accurately reflect the multi-faceted character of God. Our great God is a humorist as well as a judge; a musician as well as an orator; a servant and a king. Just look at creation: God is an artist, an engineer, an inventor, a gardener. Heís a bio-chemist, a mid-wife, a philosopher, a laborer, an architect Ė does the list ever end?

In the vastness of Godís nature there must be a tiny element that you can portray better than anyone else ever has Ė if you accept the challenge of a truly Spirit-led ministry, instead of a pale imitation of someone else.

Just as the life-styles of Jesus and John the Baptist differed enormously, (Matthew 3:4; 11:18-19) there should be a rich diversity within the body of Christ. Unfortunately, a warped view of holiness and/or submission often leads to drab conformity. In reality, this is carnality Ė the inability to love or appreciate anyone who is not a boring clone. Deodorized saints are the order of the day. Real saints get up hypocritesí noses.

To reach the many different people groups he encountered, Paul became Ďall things to all mení. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) If Paul as an individual could contemplate this, imagine the breadth that should be evident within the body as a whole. This is possible only if we allow the Spirit to nurture our individuality. Christians wishing they had the abilities of others are nightingales coveting a peacockís beauty or soaring eagles envying the powerful legs of an ostrich. Yet donít we all feel like this at times? (The embarrassing thing about our brain-waives is the spelling.)

The way we revere a few gifts and denigrate the rest, youíd think the ideal body of Christ consisted of a giant set of flapping gums, a fingernail emitting divine bolts of power, and a few emaciated odds and sods.

Donít despise the unique blend of abilities bestowed on you by the keenest Mind in the universe. Stop envying the ministry of others and start clarifying your own call. If, to your thinking, that call seems insignificant, the thing to be ashamed of is not your calling but your thinking!

Wrong shoes

Some of us live life in the fast lane. Iíd be happy to get out of the parking lot.

I was reading about John Wesley. The more I read, the more inadequate I felt. Like Luther and several other famous Christians, Wesley seemed to have the abilities and do the work of ten men. Iíll quarantine further details lest I spread my gloom. Yet as I groped through the fog I began to query my suppositions. Is God so short of workers that he particularly needs someone to do the work of ten? Could not you and I be among the ten or even a thousand who together could equal a Luther or a Wesley? Are Godís gifts so puny that they must be concentrated in the hands of a few before they are of value? Is the need of the hour for more Wesleys or for ordinary Christians to overpower discouragement and start pulling their weight?

Letís be content to fulfill our God-appointed task. It alone, delights the Fatherís heart and brings the joyous satisfaction we were born for. The pressure to fill someone elseís shoes is not from God. It leads only to corns!

The one-talent man

In Jesusí powerful story, three servants were given money. One received five talents, another two, and the other one. (Matthew 25:15) Feel sorry for the one who received so little? I used to. It seems grossly unfair, though Iím forced to admit itís true to life. God has distributed his gifts unequally. Moreover, relative to others, Iím that one-talent man.

After years of feeling hard done by, a light flashed that should forever banish my self-pity. In the currency of the day, a talent was worth 6,000 denarii. Still mystified? Well, according to another parable, the going casual rate for an eleven-or-twelve-hour day was just one denarius. (Matthew 20:1,2,8) My mind splutters into action. Multiply your daily wage by 6,000 and see if you despise the figure. You could immediately go on holiday for twenty or thirty years, (The lower figure if you usually work seventy hours a week, the higher if you work a forty-hour week.) or, in Jesusí day, you could invest in many slaves (who each would earn far beyond their minimal keep) and spend the rest of your life in idle luxury.

A talent was worth three-quarters of a million widowís mites. At that time it would cover a full yearís rent on fifty houses, or buy quarter of a million sparrows (Luke 12:6) (with bulk discount you could probably buy every sparrow on the planet!). Judas sold his Savior for just two percent of this sum. With these riches you could gain full access to Romeís magnificent public baths all day every day for a hundred years and have enough in reserve to buy a liter of wheat, or three of barley, every day for two life-times.

I can pity no longer that Ďunfortunateí who received the least. He was rich. And he had the potential to double his wealth. (In Lukeís version of the parable (Luke 19:12-27), the servants were allocated equal portions. Perhaps Lukeís version reveals the heart of God and the other (preserved in Matthew 25:16-17) describes the strategy of God. The Lord loves his children without favoritism. Or perhaps Jesus told this story once from heavenís perspective (equal portions) and once from our human perspective. In our eyes, ministry gifts seem to vary in significance, but I donít think God sees it that way.)

Your Father, in the divine extravagance of infinite love, showers his riches upon other people. Yet that cannot diminish the magnitude of your own gift. And your investment potential is phenomenal.

Who can complain when the wisest Person in the universe does what he wants with his own wealth? Instead of resenting God for his kindness to others, or cringing before those who seem to have more, you have every reason to delight in the enormity of your own gift. In joyful thanksgiving to God, stretch that precious talent so that when the king returns you can lay at his feet a gift that has doubled in value.

For still more encouragement, see Feeling Useless & Hopeless and the page it leads to.