How to Discover Your Personal Ministry
God’s plan is for every follower of Christ to have a personal ministry, or “good works” that He has prepared for us to do. Most Christian men I’ve met have it in their hearts to serve God. They just need someone to show them HOW.
By Patrick Morley
MIM Founder & Executive Chairman
Winter Park, Florida
No man I have ever known has been more faithful to minister to men than Owen. For more than 20 years, Owen led a weekly lunchtime 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. The Bible makes no distinction between sacred and secular. For Christians, all of life is “spiritual,” including your occupation.
The Desire to Serve God
I sincerely believe that most Christian men have it in their hearts 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. They just need someone to show them how.
Many people who sense this desire to serve God welling up within them assume they must now do something else. This is rarely the case. For probably 99% of us, God wants us right where we are (see 1 Corinthians 7:17, 20, 24).
Generally, we should keep doing what we already do, but differently—with a whole new orientation to pleasing Christ. In this way, He will minister through our jobs, families, church involvements, and community activities.
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.
What Is A Personal Ministry?
God’s plan is for every believer to have a personal ministry. God has a particular task, good work, or personal ministry for each of us:
“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).
A personal ministry is based upon a man’s spiritual gifts and his position in the body of Christ (a leader, servant, teacher, giver, and so on).
For most of us, the vast majority 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 server, every customer is an occasion to demonstrate the character of Jesus Christ. If you are a salesperson, 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 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” ( 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” ( 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 main strands: evangelism, equipping disciples, or mercy ministry, such 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 ministry priority. If you want a powerful personal ministry, disciple your own family. We don’t want to change the world through the power of the gospel but not our own homes. No amount of success at work or church will ever compensate for failure at home.
If you’re married, then after God but before all others, make your spouse your top priority. Pray for your spouse and your children daily. You may be the only person in the whole world praying for your children on a regular basis. Learn more about how to lead a family devotion here.
2) In the Local Church. If possible, find an outlet for using your spiritual gifts in your local church. For many of our readers, it’s in the area of men’s discipleship, whether that’s through leading a small group, one-on-one mentoring, facilitating a Bible study, or providing strategic leadership for the men’s ministry. But it may also be participating in the worship band or choir, welcoming visitors, or stacking chairs after a church event. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask a pastor or another 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). But be sensitive for opportunities to care for people you know through work. Be excellent in your work ethic and integrity. 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.”
Look for opportunities to have deeper spiritual conversations with friends from work. One man I know sends a personal letter to his coworkers at their home addresses sharing his testimony and including a book on apologetics. They all thank him for caring even if they are not interested. Another organized a Bible study at his office during lunch, open to anyone.
4) In the Community. Use your imagination. There are so many kinds of needs around you. Start a community-wide annual prayer breakfast. Consider becoming foster parents. Dedicate your home to Christ and open it up to your neighbors for a Bible study group. Visit residents at a nursing home. What are the issues and needs that grip your heart? Perhaps that is where God is calling you to engage.
5) Across Culture. Get to know and pursue friendship with a person of a different racial, ethnic, or cultural background—especially if it feels out of your comfort zone. Invite someone you may not naturally intersect or interact with to have breakfast, lunch, or coffee once a week for a set amount of time. Learn about each other’s families, work, and interests. Share where each of you are on your spiritual pilgrimage. If you both want to continue, keep meeting, and consider including your families!
6) To the World. Are you passionate about reaching those in other parts of the world? Have a missionary family stay at your home during the missions conference. Pray for missionaries using a globe. Write to missionaries and support them financially. Send care packages for their children’s birthdays. Take a trip and help with the work on the ground if you can.
If you don’t yet have a personal ministry—or are not satisfied with what you have been doing—take some bold steps to figure out where you should get engaged. Pray for your coworkers by name. Start a family devotion this week. Meet with your pastor. Make some phone calls or visit the shelter for the homeless, the local food pantry, a campus ministry organization, the addiction recovery program, or the crisis pregnancy center.
Pay close attention to your motivations, burdens, and interests. Philippians 2:13 says: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” In other words, God puts desires into our hearts to do His work. What are those desires, and what is the motivation behind them?
God has given you several other means of guidance to help you discern His will, including prayer, the Holy Spirit, wise counsel, and fasting. If you’re unsure of your next step, use these with liberality. If you ask for wisdom, God will give it to you generously (James 1:5).
If you encounter some opposition on your path of discovery, don’t let it deter you from serving Him. Many men never attempt anything significant because they might fail. They would rather be perfect in potentiality than imperfect in actuality. God uses imperfect people; otherwise He’d have no one to use!
You don’t have to have a full vision and strategy before you start serving Him. Even when you have an incomplete picture of the personal ministry God has for you, you can seek to be faithful to what God has already shown you—and vigilant for more clarity along the way.
Henry Blackaby said it well: “Find out where God is working and join him there.”
THE BIG IDEA: The happiest people in the world are those who know their spiritual gifts and are using them for the glory of God.
Question of the Week
Have you discovered your personal ministry for this stage of your life?
In the Comments section below, we want to hear where you are currently engaged in ministry work, or where you believe God is leading you! If you aren’t sure, what next step will you take this week to start on the path of discovery?