Ministry. That one word has so many meanings. To some, it means something they do on Sunday. They serve in nursery, or hand out bulletins, or usher. To some, it means teaching a Sunday school class, leading a small group, or even a woman’s Bible study. Even still, to others, it an organization that you give money to, or even volunteer for, a few times a year. Then, there is another category, who are in “full – time” or vocational ministry, which to the world’s standard, would mean they get paid to minister to people. Your thoughts probably went straight to pastors, directors, and missionaries. Yet, I feel it is this last category that we are all called to. No, I don’t think we should all be paid. No, I don’t think we should all quit our jobs. However, I believe ministry is a way of life, and something we need to be intentional about. This is where our Good Morning Girls study has been this week.
Ministry is more than just the acts of service we do at church or on a mission trip. It is even more than throwing a few dollars in an offering plate as it passes by. Ministry can be intentional, and a part of our every day lives. No matter what stage of life you are in, you can have a life that is full of ministry opportunities. Let’s look at some life stations, and ways we can minister as part of our every day lives.
1. Children- Yes, children can minister! We need to train our children – and be intentional about training them – in ways they can minister to others. There are several ways that small children can minister to others. Maybe there are shut in’s or elderly in your church that they can draw pictures for. You could even take the children to go by and deliver them (OH how they love getting visitors!). Another way you can minister with your children is to have them help you bake cookies for a neighbor, or bake dessert for the lady in your small group who has had a baby. We have taught our children the ministry of prayer by stopping to pray for ambulances and fire trucks every time one goes speeding down the road. We also have the children help us partner with ministries in our church. Currently, my kids are each helping get toiletry items that are used for the homeless. We have donated our clothes and toys before. Any time we teach our children to look at others needs over their own, we are teaching them to minister and serve! Lastly, and this is a help for us in our home, we have the children help us prepare our home and meals when we have company over. They minister to one another, and us, by helping with chores and meals. We are teaching our children to do all things as unto the Lord.
2. Teenagers – Sometimes, we have to be creative with this! Not because there are fewer opportunities, but because we want them to feel like they can “own” it, and because we don’t want them to do it grudgingly. Children can of course minister in any of the ways listed for Children. They can also begin to help with kids. Helping smaller children with an activity is a great one. Our teenage daughter will sometimes engage her siblings and our friends children while we have company over. This is not because we don’t want the children with us, but by allowing her this opportunity, she can create her own ideas, and take ownership in it. Teenagers can often go on mission trips. They can do lawn work for the elderly. They can write cards of encouragement to the elderly or to pastors/teachers. They are also able to build relationships with other teenagers, often through their activities, and share the gospel. We need to teach our kids to be intentional about school (if they go to public or private) and about their sports, music, and social activities.
3. Singles. I was in this category for a long time. I spent my college years through the age of 28 (10 years- they seemed so long when I was living them!) serving. I was encouraged to get involved with campus ministries. I baby sat for couples so they could go on couples weekends or go to retreats or church seminars. This is when I started going on mission trips- including inner city ones, and then, international! Single adults can serve in all kinds of areas at church. It is important for single people to be intentional about their free time, because this is often a stage of life where there are lots of space for making poor decisions! As a single, I also served in teen ministry, where I discipled some girls from our church who were in the youth group. I took these girls, shared God’s Word with them, shopped with them (yes, shopping was sometimes my ministry!), got coffee, prayed, laughed, cried, went to camp, went around the world. As I write this, I think of three of the girls I personally spent the most time with. One is now in college, and ministers to teenage girls herself. She serves in camps. She goes on any mission trip she can get her hands on. The other is just this week in another part of the World on her very first mission trip. She also served teenagers over the summer at summer camp. The last is finishing up her last year of High School, and I can’t wait to see what God does in and through her. Below are some pictures from my time-serving as a single. Still, the first group is now older, they are married, and serving their families and their churches. My heart was forever changed by the relationships I made with these girls.
These girls taught me more then I could probably ever taught them. 🙂 That was the longest stage of life I have had so far- the reason I have so much to share there. Now, on to the rest of us!
4. Newlyweds- Learn to serve together with your spouse. I do think it is important to take time to learn the ministry strengths that you and your husband have. Take this time, before kids (if the Lord allows) to minister! You can minister very similar to how you could before you were married, yet, you get to do it with your ministry partner! Remember, as a new wife, you are also learning how to minister to your home- which should always be your first ministry! Looks for ways to show hospitality to others! Also, remember, you are learning how to minister to your husband. You were created to be his helpmeet – the helper suitable for him! Make sure you take this time to learn how to serve him best! This will be vital that you knows ways you can serve him before you add a ministry to your children.
5. New Moms- Pray. This can be your ministry. Be intentional that every time you nurse or feed, you pray. Sing spiritual songs over your baby. Pray. I think a lot of new moms feel like that can not serve because they are confined to nursing and diaper changing. Thankfully, we can pray anywhere. Leave a prayer list next to your rocking chair or changing table. Make it a time you pray for others. As you begin to get toddlers- have play dates with other moms. That is ministry! I know I love going out and fellowship with other moms over our kids play time! You can pray together- and maybe even study the Word of God! Also, remember, you now have to re-learn ministering to your home! It has gotten larger!
6. Mom of Children- Now, your focus, as it always should be, is on your home. Also, it is your job to begin teaching and training your children how to minister. I focus on ministering through cards, text messages, phone calls and facebook messages to other moms. I run a Good Morning Girl Group. I serve in my church as much as possible. I obviously blog! We have couples over every few weeks, so that we keep our home open. We view our house as a tool and gift for ministry. Cook a meal for someone sick, or who is having a new baby. Babysit for friends so they can have a date night! Pray. Pray. Pray some more.
Mama, remember. Your main ministry needs to be your home and your children. This season passes all too quickly. Minster to your home and your family first. It is the greatest and highest calling given to you by God.
7. Empty Nesters- Now, you are back to the stage of Newlyweds! Mentor Newlyweds or new moms! Host Bible Studies. Have children in your home. Teach a teen to bake or sew. Share your stories!
8. Homebound- You can send cards. Minister through ways that are listed above. The biggest way is to share what God has taught you through your life.You have so much knowledge and wisdom to share.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how to be intentional in your ministry. I hope this has shown you that you HAVE a ministry – no matter what station of life you are in! Each stage is important – and really, God determines the ministry. Be open to whatever He gives your hands to do – and then do it WILLINGLY with a heart of WORSHIP for Him!
Worshiping With My Life,