If you were to look up the definition of the word “ministry” in a dictionary, it talks about how it is an activity or work carried out by someone like a priest or vicar. I was surprised that this was the only general definition of the word, because what I’ve learnt over the past year about ministry, was different from that dictionary’s idea.
What I’ve learnt is, that it’s important to know that no matter who you are or what your job/future career is, we’ve all been called into ministry, we are all ministers for Jesus.
About a year ago, after much prayer, I felt it was time to leave youth ministry; this was the second time I had left youth work, so it was a big deal for me to leave again, but ultimately I knew it was what God was calling me to do. The church leadership and congregation were incredibly supportive of this decision and one of the most memorable things from this experience was something the senior pastor (my boss) kept saying to the leadership, youth and church about this new transition in my life. He would often stress to people that this was not a step down from ministry, but a step out into a new area of ministry.
So often the default image or thought of what ministry is, is working in a church or going into mission. These are definitely areas of ministry to God, but they aren’t the only ones. Right now, you are in ministry, you are a minister. You may not work in a church, but your school/job/university/friends/family/neighbourhood (I could go on!) is your ministry.
My journey with ministry has continued on to work with university students, giving pastoral and financial support. It’s a different world from the ice breakers and summer camps I’ve known for many years, but I do know that God has created a pastoral heart in me and a strength in organisation, which have brought me through youth and now student ministry. Also at the moment, I feel particularly passionate about the issue of poverty in our world, so I’m seeking Him on how I can get involved with that area of ministry as well!
How does God define what ministry is?Well, God doesn’t use the word ministry explicitly; authors of the books in the bible do use it, but God did call people into doing things for His mission. Searching through the bible, God didn’t call everyone to be a priest or royalty. Some of the greatest and powerful people who did incredible works for God were ordinary people who were called by God.
He called Isaiah to be a voice to the nations (Isaiah 6:8-13), Noah to build an architectural masterpiece (Genesis 6:13-22), Mary to be the carrier of our saviour (Luke 1:26-38) and Rahab to risk her life to save the spies of Israel (Joshua 2:1-21), to name a few!
How do we know where our areas of ministry are, and how can we make the most of it for God? I think the best place to start, as with many things, is prayer. Take some time to ask God to reveal to you the places, the people, the issues He wants you to minister to. Maybe take a trip to the places where you go everyday to seek God.
Another important thing to do with your ministry is to be in sync with the Holy Spirit. He is your guide not only in everyday life and your walk with God, but He’s there to nudge you in the right direction to carry out God’s work. Whether it’s praying, talking to someone, noticing something or creating an idea, being full of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to be with you is vital in knowing what we are to do in our ministry.