How do you decide how much time to give to God? How do you decide how much time you can afford to give up each week, ministering to Gods people? How do you decide which ways to serve at church, and which ways not to?
This is a conversation I often have with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. However, I’ve become convinced it’s a way of thinking that opposes God’s view of ministry.
Unfortunately, modern reformed churches have developed a roster culture that encourages members to give up just some of their time to serve. We’re often asking church members to step out of their regular lives for a short time, give their efforts to a ministry task, then step back into their regular lives again.
This is an unhelpful way to frame service. It presumes our lives are our own, to use how we please. It presumes our time and our wealth belong to us, and can be used by us as we please.
This is not a view supported by Jesus.
In Philippians chapter 2, we are called to imitate Jesus when we serve. Jesus never allocated certain time to serve his church, and certain time to spend on his own desires and pursuits. No, as Paul writes in his letter:
“We are to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!”
Every moment of Jesus’ life was spent in service to his people. Every moment of our life should be spent in the same way. We don’t step out of our regular lives to serve; our regular lives should be lives of humble service. We shouldn’t be thinking about stepping out of our lives to serve Jesus, we should instead be thinking about allowing Jesus to step into the center of our lives, as we live a life centered on him.
The words of Jesus in Luke 17 are a sombre reminder of the attitude we should have to serving God and his people.
“Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Our lives purpose, our only duty, is to live a life in service to God. Our job description, as a Christian, is constant service to our saviour and Lord. We should have a mindset of ‘every-moment-ministry. How can we use each second of each day to serve and glorify the name of Jesus? It’s only by thinking through this question we can understand what a life of ministry really looks like.
Liam Denny is a former radio journalist and newsreader, now working to bring the good new of Jesus to media workers in Sydney through the ‘Christians in the Media’ ministry. In his spare time, you’ll find him having coffee with his wife Jenny in cafes around Sydney’s inner west, playing sport and taking his dog for a swim in the harbour.
You can read his other work at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/liam-denny.html