As I'm reflecting on an upcoming trip to visit Brian Crosby (FPAM Denver Chapter Leader), I'm thinking about what he's planned for his crew and me. First, I want to give a H U G E thank you to Brian's family. When you join FPAM, we always say welcome to the family. Family, at FPAM, goes beyond those leading. Family involves kids and wives too! It takes an entire family backing us to achieve His mission through FPAM.
Now back to what I've been thinking about for the upcoming adventure. One of the items Brian asked about is the water filter. Everyone tends to bring a water filter on overnight adventures, but what happens is the person with the nicest, and fastest water filter tends to end up filtering water for the entire group. I've seen happen time and time again. While it's at times comical (because now everyone is lugging a water filter but not using it - essentially it becomes a rock you get to carry around!) the beauty and simplicity of coming together around pumping water always, for me, had lasting impressions. One person says they're going to pump water and everyone else jumps up and follows them to the local watering source (one time the water source happened to be a cow pond - I almost threw up! This is actually a funny story. Hit me up and I'll share it with you some time).
At the water source, everyone is working in harmony handing water bottles to the guy pumping, taking turns when said person arm wears out, and always good conversation. It's a simple thing that strips away all the routines of the daily grind and unites people that would possibly never unite back home.
With that image now planted in your head, let's jump into our next section in Module 2 of FPAM Biblical Foundation material - Personal Ministry: What's love got to do with personal ministry?
Before we go any further, I want to ask you a question:
Are you ready to serve and teach others in the face of danger and to lay your life down for others?
Take some time and think about this. We're serious when we ask: Are you willing to lay your life down for others? Take a few minutes and meditate on the question presented above. Once you've thought about it, come back, and we'll dive deeper into unpacking what love has to do with personal ministry.
Now that you've taken some time to think through laying your life down for others we'd like to share with you some thoughts from Matt Allen:
A proper understanding of personal ministry also requires a right understanding of our role in caring for others. We must love those we are ministering to. We must be compelled by a desire to see others receive salvation and undergo sanctification.
Let's do some Word Work and take a minute to look at the word: Compelled. We want to share with you the Archaic definition of Compelled - to drive together; unite by force; herd. Now, as you read this, I'm sure you're thinking... "How does Uniting By Force fit with loving others?" Let's go back to the watering hole and filtering water. Force unites these people. They were driven together towards something that our bodies must have i.e. water. Without it we can't survive so the force - our bodies need for water - brings people together, thus showing love for one another by helping each other filter water to sustain life i.e. they are Compelled - united by force - to love others.
Now, back to what Matt was saying. In his statement, Matt said we MUST (emphasis added) be compelled by a desire to see others receive salvation and undergo sanctification. Real quick, back to the water analogy. Seeing as there was one person with a good filter and our bodies need water to live, we desire to help each other out, so no one goes with out water.
Let's ask another question: When was the last time you felt compelled by a desire to see others succeed? Let's go even further... when was the last time you felt compelled by a desire to see others receive salvation and undergo sanctification?
We believe that most of you will be able to give a time that you felt compelled to see someone succeed, but it breaks our heart that we can't say for sure that everyone has been compelled by a desire to see others receive salvation and undergo sanctification. This is the difference between people that believe they are following in Christ's footsteps and the people that truly are. Christ commissions and commands everyone one us who believes in Him to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
You see, personal ministry - compelled desires to see others receive salvation and undergo sanctification - is for all of us. Not just people doing full-time ministry or paid ministers. It's a calling for every one of us who believe in Him!
Let's take a look at Christ's love for those He came to minister to:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Matt gives a good life example of this verse:
As personal ministers, we must recognize our roles in caring for others as pastoral. We are not hired hands, simply serving others because it’s our job or because we are paid to do so. In Latin America, security guards and bodyguards are commonly hired by the wealthy class of society. The men in this profession are given a uniform, gun, and MAYBE a bullet proof vest, along with a meager salary. It is a valid question to ask whether these guards would give their life to protect the property or people they are paid to protect. Likely, most of these guys would head for the hills the moment a real threat presents itself!
Much like in the verse, Matt gives us a good life example. If we are simply hired, i.e. no desire to care for the people truly then how can we expect to carry out His mission according to the ways He calls us to minister to people - desiring to see people receive salvation and undergo sanctification? If our hearts are bought, then we can't expect to desire real change. But if our hearts are truly in it and we truly have the heart for the people we are ministering to then we can expect to have a real desire, we can expect to be compelled, and we can feel the force that drives us together!
I hear people say: "If I could do ministry full time, then I could truly make a difference, I could pour my heart into people, and I could finally start sharing God's Word with people."
Every time we have a person approach us about full-time ministry we ask them to consider seriously taking the time to think about the implications of leaving a paying job, with insurance, 401k, paid vacation, etc. The appeal of leaving the four walls that confine them is real. We don't doubt that the daily grind weighs on people, but we have seen people abandon a mission field (their place of work) to launch into full-time ministry and find themselves back in the same boat. The daily grind followed them from their job into full-time ministry. Why? They didn't take the time to transition. They were bought. Their desire to leave their job out weighed their desire to see life change in people. While they have a desire to see life change in people, they didn't take the time to prepare their soul, i.e., tap into what God's will is in their life.
Don't misunderstand us... we are not saying that we don't want you to be ministers. On the contrary! We want you to minister, but we want you to desire to minister to people, want to see life change (i.e., love others), and want to see people undergo sanctification.
Remember our post from last week? We hit on the topic of what it means to commit to a life of personal ministry:
For those who commit to a life of personal ministry, here’s what we should expect from those that we lovingly* invest in:
- Minimal appreciation, perhaps even betrayal
- A lot of repeating ourselves
- Seasons of seeing people we care about falter instead of growing
- Lots of time invested with no apparent ROI (Return on Investment)
Take this seriously. If we desire to love others - see people receive salvation and undergo sanctification, then we must first consider all that God is providing for us. Do you have a job? Your job is your ministry salary and your mission field. It provides community and people to minister.
We believe the number 1 killer of people doing full-time ministry is loneliness. People abandoned their job and instantly feel isolated. Eventually, the isolation overcomes them, and they retreat back to work. Don't be bought - let your desire to love others come first. His will in your life will then lead you to these people and if His will permits full-time ministry then you will get there, but first look in front of you right now.
Take a second to look up from your device. Do you see people around you? Maybe a person came to mind? Now, tap into His desire for you to minister to these people! Congratulations! You just took the first step in personal ministry - desiring to see people receive salvation and sanctification!
Matt does a great job summing this up:
As followers of Christ, our motivation must be love and a genuine concern for the physical and more importantly, the spiritual well-being of others. And this concern for others must trump our concerns for ourselves.
We ask that you take time to meditate on this. Ask God to reveal His will in your life. Ask Him who are the people He wants you to reach.
If you have further questions regarding personal ministry, please contact us. We are here to talk, and more importantly, we are here to encourage you on this journey.
This is why Fully Packed Adventure Ministry exists - To come together through outdoor ministries (in this case it can be any ministry) to Reach Equip Partner and Send for His glory. Note the Come Together. Let's unite forces!
Next week we'll be continuing Module 2 - Personal Ministry and discussing No Room for Favoritism.
Thanks and God Bless!