Monday, September 23, 2013

Ministry Minded

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’~Matthew 25:37-40

How many times have you ever had this said to you, or spoken words like these to others?

"You do an amazing job of ministering to others!"

"What a wonderful ministry that man has now, after all those years of battling his drug and alcohol addictions!"

"You know, your family really is your ministry!"

Back in June of 2000, after emerging from over 40 years in the Catholic faith and then becoming a part of a church body of an entirely different denomination, I found myself very confused when people would throw the terms 'ministry' or 'minister' (as a verb) around like a softball to one another.   Minister, as far as I was concerned, was the preacher guy (or gal, depending upon how literally your church takes 1 Timothy 2:11-12); to me, it was a noun, not a verb. 

For awhile, I just chalked it up to another bit of Christian lingo I'd have to get used to hearing.  I never went through the trouble to look up the meaning, surmising that minister, when used as a verb, meant 'caring for others,' and therefore, a ministry was a group of church folk who cared for others. Easy enough.  

I was close. The word 'ministry' comes from the Greek term 'diakoneo,'  which translates 'to serve',  so a minister is a person who serves.  I guess we all could be considered ministers. You don't need to be ordained and sporting a white collar or wearing a zucchetto to comfort a grieving parent or to hand a homeless person a bottle of cold water and a sandwich.  True Christian ministry really just means lovingly, humbly, even joyfully serving the needs of others. To paraphrase the the Navy commercial from the late 70s/early 80s: 

"It's not just a vocation -- it's a lifestyle."

Yet, if you don't view it that way, much like I didn't for years, having a ministry sounds like just another pretty cool thing to sign up for and be involved with.  Glamorous, even, at first. 

But if you don't view it as a lifestyle or a life calling, it can quickly snowball into something that's more about YOU and less about those whom you serve. 

I've found there are LOTS of different ministries out there. To name a few:

Homeless ministry
Prayer ministry
Men's/Women's/Youth/Children's ministry
Prison ministry
Special Needs ministry
Shut-Ins visitation ministry
Cancer ministry
Wheelchair ministry
Church Bus ministry
Greeting card ministry
Helping Hands/Meals ministry
Water bottle ministry
Coffee ministry

Wow -- so many ministries,  so little time.  Some sounding so rewarding. Which one to choose?

Actually, I've found -- and found very recently, I might add -- 

that it's not US who do the choosing.  It's God.  

It is He who chooses and calls us to minister to, to serve, WHATEVER you want to call it, those whom Jesus referred to as: 
the least of these

Hmmm.....and just who ARE the least of these? To me, it's a fairly important question.

According to God’s Word in Matthew 25:40, whatever service we have done for and whatever loving compassion we have shown towards someone who was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned or just a stranger in need...“the least of these”....we have done for or shown towards Jesus Christ Himself. 

I also find it to be a difficult question (perhaps you do, too). I'll address that in an upcoming post.

But for now...please give it some thought.  When you hear or read the phrase, the least of these, who or what comes to YOUR mind? 

Whatsoever you do,
for the least of My people 
That you do unto Me.

When I was hungry, you gave me to eat;
When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When I was homeless, you opened your door;
When I was naked, you gave me your coat.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When I was weary, you helped me find rest.
When I was anxious, you calmed all my fears.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When in a prison, you came to my cell;
When on a sickbed, you cared for my needs.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When I was laughed at, you stood by my side.
When I was happy, you shared in my joy.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

Whatsoever you do,
for the least of My people 
That you do unto Me. ~ Catholic Hymn


  1. I like that God is the one who does the choosing, because that makes it not an's a liberating truth. I think often the least of these can be some that are closest to us. Lifestyle yes, and didn't Mother Theresa pick a great example when she said something about start with the person closest to you. Honestly, sometimes doing the small things for those closest can be hardest...but everyone has their own training ground where God reveals His will and way of service for them, yes? I am a bit all over the place with this- but I do get your direction, my friend. I think...Love you!

    1. Oh no, toots -- you are absolutely on target with your response! So I get you!!! Thanks, for stopping here and taking time to comment, darlin'. Love you, too.

  2. Right now, the children and people in Haiti come to mind as the least of these because it's still so fresh on my heart from our mission trip. And more so because it seems God is opening doors for our family to go there as missionaries. But the least of these surround us, sometimes we don't even realize it. There's so much hurt in our world. So much pretending in the church, in our society. We say we're fine when we are breaking on the inside. And I love what you said about God doing the choosing for how we minister and serve. Sooo true!

  3. Hi there,
    I read your comment on incourage today and decided to pop over to your blog. I wanted to comment here to make sure you got it. What you said rang true in my life as well. As a mother of 6 it has always been assumed that I would be in the preschool dept. I accepted even though I didn't feel God call me there, but everyone else expected me to be. After leaving our last church (because we weren't "wealthy" enough) We came to our new church and I was DONE! Just done. I needed help, to be feed and nurtured back to health. Well as usual it was "you're going to be in the preschool department" and I just said NO! No, I am not. You don't know me, I have no family, no one but my husband and children. I homeschool our children and I come here bleeding and broken needed help and you think you can assign me to a bunch of kids??? It didn't sit very well with some people so I just decided to stop going to church even though my husband and children kept going. If the church wasn't going to be "the church" like it is supposed to be, then I wasn't going. After a few years of wrestling with God, I finally decided to obey and go back to church. Some people still don't like that I'm not a "yes-girl" but I'm not here to please them! I'm here to please God and do what He asks me to do! Right now that means I'm helping with crisis situations that come up and with the "bus ministry" children and their parents. I can relate to them well! I have a past filled with hurts and God is using it to help others! I don't feel guilty anymore for not living up to others expectation and saying "NO." because as long as God is pleased then I'm doing what I was meant to do!
    God bless!


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