13 – How to Develop a Personal Ministry
Adapted from The Seven Seasons of a Man’s Life and The Rest of Your Life (Zondervan)
No man I have ever known has been more faithful to minister to men than Owen. For 23 years Owen has led a Monday noon Bible study in downtown Orlando. He has helped start several new churches. Yet Owen leases commercial real estate for his occupation.
“Why don’t you go into the ministry?” someone asked.
“I am in the ministry. God has called me to business,” he explained.
We don’t need to be in occupational ministry to serve God. A few may be called to occupational ministry, but 99% of us will minister through our jobs, families, church involvements, and community activities.
The Desire to Serve God
When a man begins to get his mind around how radically the grace, mercy, and kindness of God has healed his life, he naturally will want to respond in service.
Why? Because out of the overflow of a heart filled with gratitude, a desire to serve Christ wells up. And if we are kept from serving Him we will experience an almost desperate need to express our gratitude to Jesus. Guilt may motivate us to begin a personal ministry, but only gratitude will keep it going. We are called to be agents of the kingdom who bring life where there is death, light where there is darkness, and hope where there is despair.
I sincerely believe that most Christian men have it in their hearts to serve God. They just need someone to show them “how.”
What Is A Personal Ministry?
God’s plan is for every believer to have a personal ministry. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). God has a particular task, good work, or personal ministry, for each of us.
A personal ministry is based upon a man’s spiritual gifts (See A Look in the Mirror, “How To Determine Your Spiritual Gifts”) and his position in the body of Christ (a leader, servant, teacher, giver, and so on).
Our two principle tasks are redemptive tasks “to build the kingdom” (The Great Commission, Mat. 28:18-20) and cultural tasks “to tend the culture” (The Cultural Commission, Gen. 1:28).
For most of us 80%-99% of our time will be spent “tending the culture” through our work, civic duties, and community life. Some of us will have more opportunity than others to share our faith at work, but we all can demonstrate the reality and relevance of Jesus through the way we work.
If you are a waiter, every customer is an occasion to demonstrate the character of Jesus Christ. If you are a salesman, every appointment is holy, and every sale is sacred. If you are a manager, every conflict between two employees presents an opportunity to model the love of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi put it this way, “Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel and, if necessary, use words.”
What The Bible Says …
Once that fire to serve the Lord starts to burn in a man’s heart he bumps up against some obvious questions. The Bible offers a firm base upon which to build your own personal calling, so let’s begin there.
• God Wants Each Of Us To Bear Much Fruit: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). In fact, fruit proves we are His disciples.
• The Ultimate Purpose Of Our Service Is To Bring Glory To God: “… so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).
• The Earthly Purpose Of Our Calling Is To Faithfully Serve Others: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
• To Bear Fruit God Gives Each Of Us Different Spiritual Gifts: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Rom. 12:6). Spiritual gifts are unique spiritual abilities given by God to help us serve Him.
• We Each Serve God As Part Of A Larger Body: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:4-5). It’s important to be a part of what God is doing in the world. All of us working together form a beautiful mosaic of loving service.
How to Have a Personal Ministry
A ministry will follow one or more of three strands: evangelism, equipping disciples, or social justice issues like meeting the needs of the poor.
Generally, there are six areas where we can develop a personal ministry:
1. In the Family This must be our first and top priority in ministry. Pray before all meals. Have a 15 minute daily devotion three or four days a week during the school year. Pray for them daily you may be the only person in the whole world willing to pray for your children on a regular basis. Consider paying your kids to do private devotions. Use the honor system and make them keep track over a period of months. After God, but before all others, make your wife your top priority.
If you want a powerful ministry, disciple your own family. We don’t want to win the world, but lose our own homes. No amount of success at work will ever compensate for failure at home. If you don’t have enough time for your kids you can be 100% certain you are not following God’s will for your life. For a man, nothing is more important than having a vital ministry within his own family.
2. In the Local Church I think the next place to have a ministry, if you can, is in the church. Most people will find the outlet for their spiritual gifts in the church, if your church believes in putting the laity into service. Ask a pastor or lay leader to help you find a place of service where you can use the gifts that God has given you.
3. At Work You don’t have to wear your faith like an outer garment (but you can). Be sensitive for opportunities to care for people. Be excellent. People will decide if Christianity is true or not based upon how you work when you think no one is looking. Francis Schaeffer said, “If you do your work well you will have a chance to speak.” One man I know sends personal letters to fellow employees at their home addresses sharing his testimony and including a book on apologetics. They all thank him for caring even if not interested. Teach or organize a Bible study at your office before work or during lunch.
4. In the Community Use your imagination. Start a community-wide annual prayer breakfast. Consider becoming foster parents. Dedicate your home to Christ and open it up for a Bible study group. Organize a neighborhood Christmas party at which you give your personal testimony.
5. Across Culture Get to know a person of different racial/ethnic/cultural background. Take “The Three Week Reconciliation Challenge”: Invite someone of another color to have breakfast, lunch, or coffee once a week for three weeks. Share where each of you are on your spiritual pilgrimage. Learn about each other’s families, work, interests. If you are making progress, keep meeting. Take away each other’s apathy and anger. Dispel myths. Quell fears.
6. To the World Have a missionary family stay at your home during the missions conference. Pray for missionaries using a globe. Write missionaries and support them financially. Send care packages for their children’s birthdays. Take a mission trip if you can. It’s a real eye-opener. It is good to walk among the poor, to see their hunger for God, to feel the weight of their conditions and become sensitive to them personally.
If you don’t have a personal ministry, or are not satisfied with what you have been doing, take some bold steps. Make some phone calls. Visit your pastor. Drop by and visit the shelter for the homeless, the local soup line, the high school campus ministries, the drug rehab program, the pro-life counseling center. Put some effort to finding the place where you can have an effective personal ministry.
Henry Blackaby has said it well, “Find out where God is working and join him there.”
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley has been used throughout the world to help men and leaders think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to equip them to have a larger impact on the world.
© 1995. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.