First things first, I believe the Bible calls all of us into ministry. As followers of Christ, sharing the gospel (Mark 16:15), making disciples (Matt. 28:19), and caring for those in need (Matt. 25:35-40) are tasks assigned to all of us.
And probably in anticipation of our tendency to compare, God makes it clear in His Word that the ways we minister may look different, but it all matters. Just like the parts of a body are all needed, each of us must do our part for Christ’s body to work at maximum efficiency (1 Cor. 12).
Having a ministry can look a million different ways:
- It might look like teaching kindergarten Sunday school.
- It might look like mentoring a young, single mom.
- It might look like leading worship.
- It might look like writing books.
- It might look like raising children to know and follow Christ.
- It might look like managing a blog.
- It might look like knitting warm hats.
- It might look like praying like crazy.
I could keep going, but there really isn’t space inside my brain or in this blog post to paint a picture of all of the forms that ministry can take.
So, if you are a Christian seeking to live like God calls you to live, chances are you have a ministry.
I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to ministry, too often we use the wrong ruler to gauge our success. Maybe you’ve fallen into the same trap. Here are three terrible ways to measure the impact of your ministry.
1. People love you.
Selling a bajillion books, gaining oodles of Twitter followers, packing the seats of a sanctuary … these are not good indicators of successful ministry. We tend to think that if people are showing up with smiles on their faces, God is blessing, but this is not the pattern we see in the Bible.
How’s this for a mind-bending truth?
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23, ESV).
The Bible doesn’t say you’re blessed when everyone pats you on the back. It doesn’t say it’s awesome when you’ve been propelled to superstardom in the kingdom of Christ. Nope. The Bible says we should jump up and down with joy when people hate us. We should rejoice when we are left out because of our faith. We are in the company of the spiritual giants who go before us when our ministry repels some people instead of drawing them in.