The Beauty in the Busy

The thought often greets me, that this is how I get to spend my life. This is how I get to earn a living and support my family. This is how I get to use my mental and communicative gifts. This is what I get to research, memorize, and know. This is what I get to teach others. This is what I get to mentor others to teach to others. This is who I am. This is what I do. I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no higher honor and, other than my own salvation, no joy can compete.

I live every day with a deep sense of privilege. I carry a realization of the granduer of the task, that I’ve been chosen to be a lifelong ambassador of the King of kings. I’ve been called to tell his story, the greatest story ever told. And I don’t just get to tell it once; I get to tell it again and again. In fact, I’m called to never stop telling it and to never stop training others to tell it. I’ll never have a personal audience with the President or be welcomed into the court of a king. I’ll never be rich or internationally famous. But I am a spokesman for the King of kings and get to dispense his riches to the poor every day.

It’s the joyous mystery of my life that this is what I’ve been chosen and gifted to do, and I regularly pray the ardor of ministry will not cause me to lose that joy. Does joy color your ministry? Does it quiet complaint and defend you against weariness or bitterness? Has the beauty of what you’ve been called to do been lost in the busyness of schedule and the repetiveness of the task? Does your heart celebrate even when the days are long?

Humility and Joy Meet

But there’s another theme of heart that must live next to and interact with ministry joy. It’s ministry humility. My celebration must not cause me to forget my need. If I pay attention, ministry will quickly reveal that what I’m called to give to others I also need. As I’m telling the old, old story to others, I must tell it over and over to myself. As I’m studying the ways of grace, I must apply the truths of grace to myself. As I’m preparing to preach grace to others I must pause and worship, recognizing that such grace includes me. As I welcome others to run with confession and repentance to the Savior of grace, I must do the same again and again.

My sense of privilege for what I’ve been called to do must never degrade into the pride of thinking that I’m special or different. I need the rescue I hold out to others. This means I’ve been chosen to tell God’s story and to represent his grace not because I’m worthy or up to the task, but because he is. He is able to take people in need of rescue and employ them as useful tools of his rescue. He is that great, and his grace is that powerful.

So as you start another year of ministry, guard your joy. Don’t let anything quiet your celebration of what you’ve been called to do. And as you’re celebrating, remember you’re not just preaching to the needy; you are needy. And remember both you and your people have been drawn into personal communion with the One who is up to the task.

  • David Murray

    Thank you so much for a beautifully balanced inspirational read. Just what I needed today!

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  • Mark Troughton

    Greetings Paul,

    Thank you brother so much for your tremendously helpful insights into God’s word. I’ve been enormously helped by your work on the Heart in particular. I was reading ‘the tradition of the elders’ i.e. Jewish Oral tradition now known as the Mishnah in preparation for Mark 7.1-23 this morning (I don’t normally refer to Jewish rabbis as my staple devotional diet) and was struck by this: in the Six Constant Mitzvos that a devout Jew is to obey each second of the day, number 3 says: ‘ We are obligated to love HASHEM and channel all our desires and emotions toward the love of HASHEM.’
    (Devorim/Deut 6.5).
    I don’t suppose we’d disagree with that!

    Every blessing,

  • Mark Troughton

    Horatius Bonar’s ‘God’s Way of Holiness’ (1869) is incidentally a superlative treatment of the obedience to God that springs from the joy and gratitude that the Spirit causes to rise in our hearts as we contemplate the glory of God in the face of Jesus.