How much does our job title and roles matter in ministry?
Firstly, I have always been a firm believer that as Christians (whatever job that we hold, “secular” or in full time ministry), that we each have our own part in the wider mission of sharing Christ with others. If you had said to me a few years ago that I would be working with a church and taking some time off from the classroom, I would have pointed out that there is importance in being used by God in that workplace just as there is within the church. And although those two jobs may differ to one another, I still believe that God can use us and our unique gifts whichever avenue He decides to do that in.
Secondly, I do not have the answers to the questions I will open in the post. Some of it is thoughts that I have simply had or has stemmed from conversations, particularly within the realm of missions.
Let me divulge on this subject by narrowing down my thoughts to this past year. As I said, I was very much adamant to stay within art education and seek the role of teacher. However, it was just over a year ago that I began to see more of a shift in my desires. I wanted to be a part of some of the church’s activities that clashed with my time at school. Believe me, I was just as surprised at the disappointment of missing out that I felt, as it was always (and still is) my dream to be around young people and share a love for art. What was happening? As I asked God this over and over again, it became clear as an opportunity arose for me to move to New Zealand and to work alongside the youth of a church on the South Island.(You can read more about this in my post, An Unexpected Journey. ) Even at that stage, I knew that youth would be the main focus of my time here, however I wasn’t too sure exactly of the various roles that I could be taking on. Before I boarded the plane, I had decided that my hand was open to be used in whatever way God thought necessary. For someone who likes to know and plan, I was learning that maybe God wanted me to be flexible too-that perhaps He wanted me to be stretched in different ways than I could imagine. So goodbye classroom for now, but hello to youth groups.
In the build up to moving, I had spent the years surrounded by various people involved in missions and ministry. I have learned a lot from them and I’m really grateful to have had that input into my life. I’m also thankful for all the support and advice given too! However, I found myself facing frustration at times, as I was also surrounded by conversations that seeped into complaints about the titles and roles that were or were not being fulfilled. One in particular was the regular conversations of ‘my skill set just isn’t being used‘ .However, it got me thinking. What is my expectations of what my service should look like if I work with a church or a Christian organisation? Is it what I have imagined it to be? Is it fulfilling what I think God has designed me to do or be? Do I stay focused on the gifts and passions that I know I have or do I decide to be open to other avenues of service? Is it really about me? Or is it really about the God that we serve and the people that we also serve Him through?With all these questions running through my head, I began to come up with some of my own conclusions to rest under the umbrella of those thoughts. Like I said before, I don’t have the answers and want to come across humbly in this…but here they are.
I believe that God is our Creator who knows His creation better than we even know ourselves. I think that God is greatly concerned with our heart and how our actions flow from it. I know that God has gifted each person that He has created in order to glorify Him, whatever we do in life. So with all of that in mind, how relevant is the title or the position we hold? And what really is the purpose in it and the roles that we may have? I think that when being intentional in our service to God, that our relationship with God has to be at the core of it- to know Him more and to become more like Him through that. Perhaps, God will veer us down a different path than the intended use of our ‘skill sets’ in order to do this. Maybe He is more concerned with the conforming of our thoughts, heart and actions than the actual task set before us for that particular time. Therefore, it might be ok to lay aside some of that time developing my skills as an artist because He is using another role to bring out something that He sees in the bigger picture. He might even be trying to teach me that in ministry, it isn’t really all about me- it’s about Him and looking towards the needs of others, as opposed to meeting my needs. For such a time as this, God might deem it more important to develop my people (or selfless) skills instead of becoming more accomplished in my line of study or progressing in an area of expertise. And may I just add here, that I am not saying that aiming for these things are bad! God wants us to do our very best in what we do. However, sometimes I’m very much aware of the fact that we, who have decided to go into some sort of missions or ministry, are getting distracted with what we do and how that makes us feel, as opposed to opening our eyes to the needs around us and serving. If I happen to be filling in a role that looks a little different than what I thought, then I like to think that God might be showing me a gift or a passion within me that I don’t know about or is part of a plan that He has and wants to achieve.
Do I think that God cares about what you do? Yes. Do I believe He will use the gifts,passions and personaltiy He has given you? Absolutely. Does God fulfill us in our purpose and in our relationship with Him? Yes and Yes. I guess what I’ve concluded is that sometimes, it might not be exactly what ‘we have signed up for’. It may include a short or longer period of something different and it might be more challenging and difficult than the path we had decided. But God knows all the whys and can handle all the detours. I know God keeps stretching me to think of others more and see needs other than my own. I want to be more willing to write my plans in pencil and be fluid in the direction He takes me in. I do want to further my relationship with God, to develop as a person, to serve and indeed to utilise my skill set! That’s why I can’t do this in my own strength or by looking towards those around me; in or out of ministry. I look towards Jesus. The perfect servant who teaches us more of what that looks like and who we should be. So in whichever way you live for God, let us remember this:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” . Mark 10.45