In the secular workplace, the key to job security is to be needed because others can’t do the job as well. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a similar mind-set in the church.
When Windows and Mac offered new visual interfaces, suddenly anybody could run a computer. The priesthood of geeks didn’t like this change! It felt better to fix something for people rather than show them how to do it themselves because this helped maintain the mystique that you were special.
It’s been much the same in the church’s recent history. An attitude of confusion about the role of ministers is one of the biggest problems in churches today. The classic illustration is the apple tree. What’s the purpose of an apple tree—to produce apples? No! The purpose of an apple tree is to produce new apple trees. It’s also, for example, not the purpose of a youth minister to minister to all the young people. Rather, it’s the purpose of the youth minister to raise up new ministry leaders who can minister to youth.
This can be a hard ministry concept to accept. After all, isn’t our exclusive position what makes us special? But this attitude is precisely what leads people to believe they don’t need to serve because “that’s your job.” Ministry has now been assigned to the work of the professional church staffer. Instead of disciples, church people now see themselves as consumers. And the church fails to fulfill Christ’s commission to go and make disciples.
So what’s your ministry about? Is it about you and what you know? Or is it about multiplying your impact by teaching others everything you know—scattering the seeds that will become new ministers?
Once you start finding personal joy and fulfillment in the ministry successes of those you’ve raised up, rather than in your own, you’ll find that if feels far better than that exclusive priesthood ever did.
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Man oh man did your apple hit me on the top of the head! My pastor
and I have been talking about this for a LONG time, and I have not
made much progress in building the body of Christ’s disciples. I have
thought of many, many reasons and some of them are even true (!),
but unless we let God USE us for his purpose to make disciples we
end up being discouraged, burnt out and wondering what the plan is
all about. I am blessed with my pastor’s support and guidance when
he could have made my job harder. I needed the bonk on the head from the apple to know it’s not only me out here! Thank you.