Every Christian is called to make, to mature and to mobilise disciples. We are all called to evangelise, to build one another up, to care for poor, to encourage others, and so on. But, for most of us, there is a basic, underlying gift, a God-given talent that lies behind everything we do. This is where we feel most natural, most ourselves and most fulfilled. The Holy Spirit may enable you to function in a variety of spiritual gifts from time to time, but you will almost certainly feel drawn towards a certain direction in ministry. This is your motivational gift.
Discover your motivational gift
For example, I would say that my motivational gift is enabling. I know that because, over the years, that is what I have found myself doing more than anything else. Everything I do in ministry – the preaching, teaching, praying, prophesying and working with people – has enabling as its primary objective. You too may be an enabler. Or, you may be an encourager, or a motivator; you may be a listener, or a communicator. You may best describe yourself as an intercessor, or a thinker; you could be a promoter or a campaigner. The list is almost endless, but God has placed something special deep in each one of us, that will determine our best course in ministry.
The scriptures give us a number of ‘gift lists’, which are often referred to as spiritual gifts. For example, we have Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:7-12, 18 &14:26. As you study these lists, you will find some examples of motivational gifts such as evangelism, or teaching, or caring, or administration. You will also notice some ‘spontaneous gifts’ that the Holy Spirit may show through your life at any time and on special occasions. For example, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, faith, and miracles.
Get to know what God says about spiritual gifts
As you get to know these gifts, you will be able to identify how they operate both in you and in others. That way you will begin to flow more easily in your ministry.
Do not despise your own desires for ministry because God says,
He fulfils the desires of those who fear him. Psalm 145:19
If you have been careful to give God first place in your life, your desires will have been shaped by God to suit his purposes. If you take God seriously, then you will have a realistic view of yourself. Ask yourself what you would most like to do for God if all obstacles were to be removed. You may be surprised how close this comes to what God wants you to do with your life!
Once you believe you have identified the gift (or gifts) God has given you, look for ways of serving with your gift and developing your ministry. Always keep open to the Lord, and constantly review what he is saying to you. He will be leading you step by step, and developing you now for what he has for you in the future.
Begin your ministry right away
I would advise you to begin your ministry, right now, right where you are. Find a need and fulfil it even if you do not think it is your ultimate ministry. After all, there is no need to receive divine revelation about the things so clearly spoken of in scripture.
We have the Great Command of Jesus – to love.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbour as yourself. Luke 10:27
This is your ministry to God and to others. The apostle John explains that this involves practical service. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 Everything you do, do for the Lord, no matter how practical or seemingly insignificant, it appears to be.
Be faithful in small things
It is important to develop a servant attitude from the beginning. Often what is needed most in ministry is practical service. Do these ‘little things’ with great joy and faithfulness. Do not draw attention to yourself. God will reward you as Jesus says in the parable of the talents,
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! Matthew 25:21
Don’t look on certain things as unimportant. Many of those who have major ministries today started off quietly, serving behind the scenes. They collected the garbage, cleaned the toilets and swept the stairs!
Often enthusiastic Christians come to me thrilled with their calling to ministry. They have a vision to be a pastor, an evangelist, a missionary or some other kind of ‘major minister’. I always ask them about the fruit they have already produced in their ministry. Usually, my questions will focus on their cell ministry, as this is one of the most effective ways of discovering and developing ministry.
Sometimes I am disappointed by the responses I receive. It appears that the cell ministry is not grand enough for some people. They seem to think that they will suddenly become effective ministers for Christ just as soon as they get some title, are appointed to lead a church or travel a thousand miles from home! The plain truth is, there is no other ministry than the ministry of Christ – making, maturing and mobilising disciples. The cell ministry centres on these essentials directing all our manifold gifts and talents toward the one great objective – the Great Commission.
I am most disturbed, however, when people seem to want to express their ministry in the context of traditional church models. For the most part, these models work against the New Testament vision of every member ministry. How can we expect to see the fullness of Christ in his body unless the entire church is structured to facilitate this vision of the Lord? Small group ministry is vital. Don’t despise ‘the day of small things’. Everything in the kingdom starts small – even the baby Jesus! The essence of the ministry is carried in the cells. There is no need to think that you must graduate from the cell ministry, even if you do have a calling to one of the five major ministry gifts of Christ. Start doing the ministry in the cells, and keep on doing the ministry through the cells and just watch the results. You can multiply many, many disciples through the cells and grow into everything God has for you. If Jesus the greatest minister of all time, spent the better part of his ministry developing his closest disciples and then releasing them on the world, why shouldn’t you do the same?
Minister in the ‘market place’
I find many people think of Christian service either as being ‘full-time’ in the church, or as doing a job in the church. These things are important and have their place, but the real ministry is out there in the world. Every calling is a holy calling, not just the calling to be a preacher or a teacher who stands in front of a congregation in the church building on Sundays.
The Holy Spirit is bringing a fresh appreciation of ‘market place ministries’ – those called to serve Jesus full-time in their home, their place of study, or employment. Real ministry is not just doing work in the church but doing the work of the church in the wider community. That is where we must act as salt and light and draw people to Christ.
That is why you should be prayerful about what job you take or what profession you choose. This is the main location for your ministry, and the place where you can be most effective for Christ. Your home, neighbourhood, place of study or workplace, will probably be your best opportunity to reach those who would never normally come to a Christian meeting. Jesus ministered both in the synagogues and the market places of his day. He performed some of his most powerful miracles in the public place where the multitudes were.
Training is the key to success
Make every effort to train and prepare yourself in your gifting. Enrol in a training programme that will help you develop your calling. Spend time with people who have the same gift and learn from their experiences. Let their wisdom and knowledge rub off on you. Study what the Bible says about your particular gifts and about the use of the Holy Spirit’s gifts in general.
Ask trusted friends if they have seen God’s blessing upon you in any area of ministry. Give them a copy of the Spiritual Gifts Discovery Chart and let them fill it in for you. Then compare your assessment with the one they have made about you and discuss any distinct differences. But only do this if you are willing to listen to what they have to say!
Discovering God’s plans is not a logical pursuit. Rather, it is a matter of revelation which flows from the relationship you are building with him. So through prayer and waiting on the Lord, keep seeking him to guide you, until you receive a clear word from him.
Don’t forget the Great Commission
We have already spoken about the ‘Great Commission’ which is to evangelise the world and make disciples of all nations. But, it is necessary to continue to stress that this is the one, over-arching call upon all our lives. Everything we do must be in obedience to the command of Jesus, given in Mark chapter 16, and in Matthew 28:
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Both these scriptures set out clearly and unmistakably what the ministry really is. It is about making, maturing and mobilising disciples of Jesus Christ. This is Jesus’ command to every one of us. It is not just for the socalled full-time ministers, as we are all full-time for the Lord! Neither is it just for those who carry special gifts and anointings of the Holy Spirit, because we are all anointed to follow Jesus and to serve him.
People seem to believe that to be successful in business or political life, to become someone important in the world, is an adequate substitute for obeying the Great Commission. It is not. True success is measured by obedience to the things Jesus has called us to do. Unless your life is lived for the express purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission, then you have made a ‘great omission’ in your life. You will have failed in God’s purpose for you – whatever else you may have achieved for him.
The same applies to those who consider themselves pastors or ministers, that is, leaders of congregations. Many people want to become pastors or full-time leaders because they wrongly identify the ministry with these things or they believe that is the only way they can be effective for God. Sadly, they are mistaken. In fact, many people who take the (often unnecessary) step of being ordained by a denomination, or leave their former profession, to go fulltime in the ministry fail to do the work of the ministry itself. They fail to raise up the body of Christ to do the work of Christ – that is the real ministry.
The professional ministry today is one of the gravest problems we face – people who carry titles and perform a whole range of (sometimes necessary) tasks in the church can forget the real purpose of the ministry, which is to make disciples of the nations.
Don’t fall into that trap – you are in the ministry, right now if you are a believer. God expects you to fulfil this ministry. Right where you are, you can grow many disciples and bear much fruit, and your fruit will remain. We have many so-called lay leaders who are more effective and are bearing more fruit than many people in the formal ministry. Through the cell ministry people are leading hundreds of believers, many of whom they have won for Christ and are discipling for the Lord. Some cell leaders have more people in their groups of cells than the average pastor has in British or European churches today. If Christ has truly called you to one of the five ministries in Ephesians 4:11, get busy with the ministry now. Lead people to Christ, disciple them in the faith, and release them to do the same. That’s exactly what Jesus did, and it is still his ministry today. Trust the Lord, that as you do this, he will raise you to the levels of leadership that are consistent with your calling.
Grow in your ministry
Once you have discovered all this and committed your life to these things, you will immediately want to find ways of serving with your gift and developing yourself in the ministry. Make every effort to train and prepare yourself in your gift and calling. Let me emphasise, once again, these four key elements of preparation:
- Enrol in a training programme that will help develop you.
- Spend time with people who have the same gift and learn from their experiences.
- Study what the Bible says about your particular gifts and about the use of the Holy Spirit’s gifts in general.
- Pray and wait on the Lord, seeking for him to guide you.