Lately I’ve been reading Priscilla Shirer’s study, Elijah. In his showdown with the prophets of Baal, Elijah proved who was truly God, because only God could light the sacrifice. Yet so many times, we go to the altar, bring the sacrifice, and light the fire. Then the fire burns off quickly because it was never of God.
Many times, God calls us to sacrifice the very things we cling to. Those things that we don’t want to give to God–that schedule, that precious event I created, or my pride in its success. They may not be inherent sins, but they also may not be holy.
We cannot accept using holy things for unholy purposes. Those ideas probably served a higher purpose at one time, but do they still? Is God still trying to do that through our church and in our context?
So, let’s consider how we sacrifice ourselves and the things we have allowed to become sacred to us to God’s purpose for our ministry.
Remain in God. Many of us are distracted. We often point to big things, saying this is what ministry looks like: a platform, a book, a following. But ministry is simply putting ourselves on the altar every day by abiding in God’s presence. Study the Bible. Pray. Submit to God’s will. All the spiritual disciplines apply. We need to be vines connected to the branch every day if our purpose is to serve him.
Ask God to reveal himself to you. Similar to the ketchup bottle that waits in the fridge to be the dip for our tots, we should be waiting to be used by God. When he’s fueling the purpose, we don’t burn out. There is joy and energy, but there is also a balance that will keep us in check, allowing God to lead the way. Wait for God to fuel the next step, then step out.
Remember, it’s always about people. Whether it’s a task, a catastrophe, or a celebration, ministry is always about the people.
My friend Jennifer lives her life on mission. She approaches every day thinking, “Who is God placing in my life for the next ten minutes? How does he want me to serve in this moment?” Then, if God chooses to use Jennifer in somebody else’s life, Jennifer is not the hero to that person. Instead, they see how God showed up in those ten minutes. Jennifer intentionally allows God to fuel her purpose every day.
Let me offer some encouragement. May we search our hearts, find those things, and allow God to set them alight. Perhaps he will repurpose them. Perhaps they will burn to dust in the light of new ideas. But we will be able to step forward, knowing God is fueling our ministry once again.
– Carmen Halsey is IBSA’s leadership development director.