Kind of an odd question, right? If you are a Christian, you worship God. Ministry is what you do in service to God. So how can you worship it? Let me explain by giving you a picture of my life, and how God has shown me where my worship lies.
I am a full time father and husband, as well as a full time employee. I am a part time evangelist, part time Sunday School teacher, and a part time Christian blogger. Now, if someone were to ask my friends and family what my full time work was, most would likely point to my “part time” work. That is because, were you to look at my life and what I am doing, that is what you would see. It is also constantly what I talk about and what is often posted by me in my social networking. In fact, while considering how to write this blog, I’ve been witnessing to a sixteen year old atheist on YouTube. It is a major part of my life. However, God began to show me something in the last year about how I view my part time ministries, as compared to my full time position as a husband and father.
If you are a Christian husband and father, your first and foremost ministry is your family. This is not even debatable. In fact, the standard for an elder in 1 Timothy 3: 2-5 tells us, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)”. In other words, a man should have his own house in order before even being considered to become an elder. Does this mean that every single person in every single ministry has to meet the standard of an elder? No. But as it is a good thing to desire the office of an elder, I believe this sets a reasonable measure that we should look at when we are involved in ministry. But, when I began to look at my home, I realized this was an area I was lacking in.
Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, my family is not a train wreck. My kids are generally well behaved and my wife is wonderful and truly my best friend. But I realized that for all the energy I spent in my part time ministries, I was not doing the same for my family. There was a time when we would sit down to do nightly family devotions. But that had waned in recent months. There have been several times where my wife and I would have personal devotions together after putting the kids to bed, but lately, we just curled up with our individual books of choice before going off to sleep. I also began seeing that my own devotional time was struggling. I had bibles everywhere, one at work, one for the gym and electronic versions on every gadget I had. Yet my own reading time was so inconsistent that I had to reread chapters several times to remind myself where I even was. All of this was adding up to become a problem.
Yet, whenever it came time to make it to street witnessing, Sunday School, or even writing a blog, I would drop everything to get to that. After all, those were the ministries God had given me, right? The gospel had to be proclaimed, there were lost sinners out there, bound for Hell. It was up to me to honor the ministries I was in to spread God’s Word. Sounds very God honoring, right? Yet, my own devotional life, and that of my family’s was suffering. It wasn’t like we never did it, but there always seemed to be something that was more important. That was when I began to realize, I was worshipping my ministry. I would go to great lengths to do the “work” of God, yet I was being disobedient in my personal study and worship. I was ignoring His commandment to wash my wife with the water of the Word (see Ephesians 5: 25-27). I was unwilling to obey him train up my children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). My other ministries were so important to me I would jump right into them. Yet, I was neglecting the first and primary ministry that I had been given. In doing so, I had ceased worshipping the God of those ministries and began worshipping the ministries themselves. God was opening my eyes to the fact that I needed to reorder my priorities, setting Him first, with my family next in line. I cannot say that I have this all worked out perfectly, but God is setting me on the right course.
What does this mean for you, the reader? First, evaluate where you are in your walk with the Lord. Are you thirsting daily for the Word of God? Are you so excited by what God has revealed to you in your personal study, you just can’t wait to share it with those you love? Or are you just trying to cram in a few verses of reading here and there? Are you putting off family devotions so you can prepare yourself for this week’s evangelism outreach?
What about your times of prayer? Are they deep and longing times where you can just pour out your heart to the Lord? Are they times where you are just petition Him to change you so that you are in His will? And are you leading your family in such rich study, prayer and worship? Or are your prayers a recitation of the same requests? Are they quick blessing prayers before a meal so you can get on to other things?
If your answer to these things was like mine, then please, as God has shown me, repent, for it is truly sin. If you have a ministry that you always show up to and take part in, but you are lacking in these areas, please recognize it for the sin it is. For you have been worshipping the work over the One for whom the work is done. And if we are only worshipping the work, how can we ever hope to minister to others? How can we lead them out of the bondage and chains of sin, if we have bound ourselves in false worship? We must then repent and come back to our first love.
Now am I advocating you need to suddenly quit your ministries, go hide in the hills studying and praying until you get it right? Absolutely not! God has chosen you for the ministry you are in, therefore, honor Him in your service. But never let the ministry overcome your walk. Never stop worshipping Him so that you can be out there “working.” Always seek God first in your personal life, and in leading your family, then with a heart rightly guided by the Lord, set about the work of ministering wherever He has placed you.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive answer on how a Christian should balance his own personal walk with his ministry. In fact I am sure there are much smarter and wiser men of God who have answered this question far better than I have in this article. But it is my hope that God may bless those who read this through the revealing of one brother’s struggles and what God has shown me in this. May God bless you all.