I am fairly new at this thing; ministry that is. There is plenty that I do not know, but I do know that I am not doing as much as I can do. I am also not influencing as many people as I can be influencing. I am willing to bet that some of you reading this would consider yourselves in the same boat. Over the course of this blog I would like to lay out what I have learned about ministry in the few years I have done it. My hope is that it encourages you, inspires you, and challenges you to accomplish more.
There was a time when I really struggled with my place in the ministry field. I boiled it down to copying. If I just do what that person is doing over there, I will probably be fairly successful. Once I either got bored, or just exhausted their material, I would find another person to follow. I would follow their mannerisms, copy their sermons, mimic their fashion, and long to be in their position. I found myself getting fairly frustrated and feeling out of place. Everything boiled down to a number to hit, or a response to get, or an image to portray. It was quite an unfulfilling way to have a career. Maybe you have experienced, or are experiencing, something similar.
My place in ministry has to come back to what God has called me to do, before I start to look into other ministries. Before I start wracking my brain for ways to create a $90,000 production for free, I need to look at myself.
God told Moses to take what was in his hand and hand it over to him. Once Moses did that, all that God had for Moses was unleashed. What has God placed in your hand and your heart? If you lose sight of that, you are going to lose your grip on what God has called you to accomplish. I have to believe that I was called to something greater than copying what other people are doing. I bet if you evaluated why you got into the ministry in the beginning, you would say the same thing.
Isaiah 64:8 says, “We are the clay, You are the potter.” Consider clay. It does its best job when it finds itself on the center of the potter’s wheel. A fraction off, will ruin the entire piece. As clay, you are at your best when you find yourself on the center of God’s wheel. I have found that there are few things that will try to get me off center more than the comparison trap.
“But God, why have you placed me here, with these people? Look where you put her! She has it all; the budget, the team, the pastor, the location.”
“God I have been preaching that same sermon since the beginning of time, where is my fruit?”
“If I only had their facility.”
“If I only had his look.”
Little by little, we begin pushing our perspective off of the place God has us and onto the place that God has someone else. We are making it awfully difficult for God to form us and our ministry when we are spending all of our time desiring something different.
You have absolutely no idea what the next 10 years have in store for you. Oh, and that person you keep idolizing, you have no idea what she has gone through on her wheel to get to where she is. Also, you have been given an opportunity to create lasting change. I am not referring to a new basketball hoop in the church parking lot. I mean something greater. God has you right in the middle of a group of students that desperately need to be formed and shaped — You assist the process! But we can mess the process up when we spend our time wishing we had everything that everyone else had. What has God put into your hand?
I have learned that little will come my way, if I do not figure out why God put me here. It is from that place that everything has come. I want to encourage you to take some time and figure out where your lane is. That place where God can unleash you the same way he unleashed Moses and the leagues of leaders that followed him.
It is from that place that we were able to accomplish some great things here in Syracuse. Last April one of our dreams was realized. We rented out a concert venue near Syracuse University; this place is essentially a night club. We decided that we would hold a church service for unchurched and dechurched young adults. We had never done anything remotely close to this before. It cost more money than we had, and it took more people that we had access too, but in the end we saw 300 young adults fill that theater and we booked 4 more this year.
More important than the initial success of the night, was what it did for my team and I. We were stretched in ways we had never been stretched. We learned part of what it means to have faith in a living God.
It is amazing what you can accomplish when you start from a place that is content on the center of the wheel. Let the potter do the work that only the potter can do.
Before we part ways, I would like to recommend a couple resources:
- Starting Well, by Richard Clinton and Paul Leavenworth. If you are just starting out like me, you cannot afford to pass on this book. I studied it in Graduate School, and it helped me immensely.
- Visioneering, by Andy Stanley. It shaped the way I look at the plans God has put on my heart. This book is what I call a “night stand book.” I look at it all of the time.
Josh is the Young Adult Pastor at Faith Chapel in Syracuse, NY. Through a dynamic speaking style, he challenges audiences to live out the key Biblical principles that God has promised will change the world. Josh is a graduate of Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY and has a Master’s Degree in Ministry from Southwestern Christian University in Oklahoma.