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The 5 "D's" of Ministry

Ministry is more than what most people think.

Most people see ministry as something for someone who goes to school, learns the Bible, and then finds a full time position at a church. Others see ministry as a higher calling, too far to obtain, or as something that is only for the select few. Yet, when we study how the Bible describes the normal way of life for a Christian, it becomes clear that we are all called into full-time ministry. Ministry isn’t a job or an occupation, rather ministry is the byproduct of new life offered through the blood of Christ, and given by the Holy Spirit. Ministry is a lifestyle all Christians are called into. Here are 5 principles that will help you walk according to God's calling.​ ​

1. Denial

The first and most crucial aspect of ministry is denial. ​As new creations in Christ (2 Co. 5:17), we are called to put off the passions of the flesh, and live according the Spirit which brings about love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Unfortunately, though we have the Spirit of God residing in us through Christ, our flesh has not yet been torn away. There is still choice. A life of denial begins by denying your own lusts, thoughts, opinions, and selfish ambitions in order to surrender all things unto Christ. Anything that is against the Word, the Spirit, or the Will of God as it has been revealed to you, must be denied in order to walk in unison with our Lord, and to be successful in ministry. For me denial is opening my Bible app instead of my Facebook app. It is choosing to prepare my sermon instead of staying up till 2 a.m. on my PS4. For me, denial is giving the cash I have in order to fulfill the needs of those who have none. Denial for me is choosing Christ. ​ Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”​ ​

2. Devotion

For a Christian, living a devoted life is one of constant communication with our Lord. After all, how can we follow Him if we don’t know where He is going? In Matthew 6:5-14, Jesus tells us to set aside time behind closed doors to pray to the Father on a daily basis, knowing that He realizes our need even before we ask. He also commands us to pray for God’s will to be done, for forgiveness, and for protection. Jesus commands us to then end our prayer with the confession that it is all for His kingdom, power, and glory. We also see in scripture, Jesus's command to learn and meditate on God’s word daily. Psalm 1 says that a blessed man is one who meditates on the word day and night. When the Pharisees debate Jesus in Matthew 22:29, Jesus says they are mistaken because they do not know the scriptures, nor the power of God. As we learn and seek to understand God’s word, He begins to speak to and guide us. Living a devoted life in prayer and study allows us to know how God wants us to operate our own lives, as well as how to sow into others. Finally, when we know and obey God’s word, we give no foot-holds for Satan to use against us. When Satan deceived Eve in Genesis chapter 3, he first tested her understanding of God's word. Failing that test, Eve was then open for Satan's advancement. However, when Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4, he could find no fault in Jesus's knowledge or understanding of the Word, for Jesus IS the Word, and so Satan was defeated, and forced to flee. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” ​

3. Discernment

Being in ministry means dealing with people, and people are dishonest. Ministry also means coming upon a vast variety of opportunities, but not all things are beneficial to those serving the Lord. Having discernment gives us wisdom concerning people and opportunities, so that we may walk in an understanding of things past what we can see. Denying our selves, and being devoted to the Lord in prayer and study allows us to have an open relationship with the Lord where He will speak to us plainly. By His Spirit, God can allow us to know what is right and well in situations where we otherwise would have no way of perceiving the truth. Just as Jesus received all knowledge and wisdom through the Spirit, and even understood the thoughts and motives of men, so God will give discernment to us if we ask and are in need. Discernment is knowing the difference between what appears to be, and what actually is. The Bible speaks of discerning the hearts of men, discerning between spirits, and even being able to discern the times. True discernment and wisdom comes only from God, yet He gives liberally to all who ask. Proverbs 15:21, “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight.” ​

4. Doing

Naturally, when God speaks to us, He expects us to actually obey what His commandments are. The sole focus of the Bible as it pertains to us is: love God, surrender our will, and obey His word. In ministry, we have to constantly be aware that we are only workers of God’s will. There is no “my ministry, my work, or what I’ve done,” it is all God’s purpose, plan, and provision. Being faithful means understanding God’s direction and will for us, and then doing it. The book of James gives us great understanding of what kind of heart a true disciple of Christ should maintain. He writes in James 2:14-17, “faith without works is dead.” If we aren’t committed to God’s word enough to obey it, then our so called “faith” profits us nothing. For faith is not simply "to believe," rather faith is the fruit of true belief. Faith is where your belief and will join together in action. Working for Jesus means knowing His will, and being faithful to fulfill every work He has given us. Before verses 2:14-17, James had already given us an example of true faith when he wrote James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” Doing for God’s Kingdom is always about His will, and never about ours. 1 Samuel 15:22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed, than the fat of rams.” ​

5. Down-Time

The last “D” of ministry, and one that is equally important to all the rest, is down-time. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. For 6 days He worked, and then on the 7th, He rested. If the creator of Heaven and Earth found time to rest in a week, so should we. God established His mandate for us to find rest when He commanded the Sabbath as a weekly observance in the Old Testament. Though Jesus has fulfilled the Law, and we are free from the weight of the Law in Christ, God’s design hasn’t changed. We need to rest in Jesus. Taking time for rest is actually an act of submission. After all, the reason we don't rest is selfish ambition or pride. “I have to get this done. I have to make this happen. I want to accomplish, I, I, I...” Ministry isn’t about our will, works, or goals. It’s about faithfulness and stewardship. Yes, there is a time where we must work and be obedient. Yes, we have been given great things to do, but we also have a God who is in charge over the whole process. God wants us at His feet in worship and personal time everyday, and He wants us to take time aside from all our busyness to seek His presence and rest from our works every week. Without His personal power in our life, and His gentle voice to guide us, where are we going anyways? I challenge you to make margins in your week and in your daily life to spend with God, and just take a rest from your labors by finding peace in Him. After all, when Martha was working and distracted by many things in Luke 10:38-42, Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus and listened as He spoke. When Martha, who was doing all the work by herself got upset, He spoke to her saying, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” -Go, and be blessed.

This article was originally published by Darrin Miller on 03/08/18

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