Written by Mike Henry. Follower of One.
Jesus challenged us to think differently about every aspect of our lives. If someone asks for our garment, we should give our outer coat also. If someone asks us to go one mile, we should go two (Matthew 5:40-41). These are just 2 examples where Jesus instructed us to consider others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Jesus challenges us to give our lives away (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24).
But our default mindset or operating system is “Me first!” Our sin nature places us – and not God – in the center of the universe. We feed and clothe ourselves. We take care of ourselves. We choose for ourselves how we spend our time and our money, what attracts our attention, even how we work and live. We are the king of our own lives. We work exercise control over our life and our stuff. We want our rights and our privacy, and we don’t want to lose them.
To follow Jesus and join his kingdom, we must renew our minds. But how can we reprogram our minds when we work every day in a secular job? Jesus has a new role for us. As we give him our mind, he will give us a new ministry.
The Greek word “diakoneo” and its variants are most often translated “minister” or “ministry.” But sometimes they are translated by the words “servant” and “service.” We get our word, “deacon” from it. When Jesus said that he didn’t come to be served but to serve, he used this word (Mark 10:45). When the apostles first decided to appoint deacons, it was because they didn’t want to “serve tables” (Acts 6:2) but rather they would devote themselves to “ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Both “serve” and “ministry” only two verses apart are from the same Greek root word.
A minister isn’t someone who works for a church. A minister is anyone who follows Jesus. Jesus expects us to minister to others according to the example he gave us.
We minister to anyone we meet. Our job as a minister doesn’t necessarily call us to another area of the world or to a different culture. We don’t have to quit our jobs to become a minister. We can minister right where we are. Ministry is the work of serving others, so they might see and trust Jesus and glorify God. When we minister, we join Jesus in his work.
You are a full-time minister. We can minister in any job or any role in society. Are you a student? Minster to your peers. Are you an employee? Minister to your boss, your team, even your customers. A manager? Add the people you supervise to your “ministry.” Are you a parent? Whether you stay at home or work elsewhere, your children, and their friends are part of your ministry. Do you shop at the grocery, or buy food? Pray for the person who serves you. Talk to them. Find ways to appreciate and serve them.
Every day we meet dozens of people. In each meeting, we can help others move toward Jesus or away from him. Jesus works through his followers. When we follow Jesus, we serve people, so they might draw near to Jesus. Even if our friends and coworkers already know Jesus, we can all follow him better. Anyone can draw a little nearer (James 4:8). Therefore, as we follow Jesus, we minister to anyone and everyone we meet.
When Paul said we should pray without ceasing,
(1 Thessalonians 5:17) he gave every follower of Jesus a full-time ministry. Our ministry takes place while we battle our flesh and our own operating system in a world designed to distract us from our relationship with God. In our workplaces, we’re tempted to work for a different goal. Maybe it’s profit, or success, or the approval of others. Jesus reminds us of his goal for us when we pray. As we pray without ceasing, we establish Jesus’ kingdom in our daily environment. Through full-time prayer, we put ourselves in a position to join God as he makes Jesus visible in our world. Our prayers tell God we’re available to do his work and we’re
interested in his people.
This month, each morning, pray for the people who office near you or the people you work with, even remote coworkers. Pray for your coffee barista or your boss. Ask God to show you what he would have you do to serve and bless that person. And look for tangible actions. Don’t tell someone you’ll pray for them – pray. Find a way to take your thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and give those thoughts to Jesus.
Then, let us know what happens. Jesus will give you ideas about how to serve others. When you get an idea, do it! Take a chance and see what Jesus causes to happen in your new workplace ministry. He will give you a ministry mindset and put you to work.