For me, it comes from a desire to serve God. I was called at a young age to serve full-time in ministry. There are many ways to serve in ministry, not everyone needs to be a full-time pastor to be “in ministry”.
The reality we face though is that being called to serve isn’t enough to sustain us in our ministry. It’s a great starting place, but if we only serve because we are called then we miss a large part of serving.
1 John 1 (The Message)
1-2From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.
3-4We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
Our service needs to be joined with our experience! Look at verses 3-4 :”this experience…we want you to enjoy this, too.” John, the beloved, writes that the reason he serves is so he can share his experience with others! If we have no experience with God then our service, or at least our desire to serve, will eventually run out. Our ministry life and spiritual life (experience with God) belong together!
We minister out of the overflow – so if we are not overflowing with God then we are ministering on reserves, at best. Henri Nouwen shares this thought in his book titled “The Selfless Way of Christ”:
“When our ministry does not emerge from a personal encounter, it quickly becomes a tiring routine and a boring job. On the other hand, when our spiritual life no longer leads to an active ministry, it quickly degenerates into introspection and self-scrunity, and thus loses its dynamism. Our life in Christ and our ministry in his name belong together as the two beams of the cross.”
Too often someone will get “burned out” in ministry and react by quitting everything to focus solely on their relationship with Christ. The mistake that is made with this reaction is they associate Sunday morning with their only opportunity to experience God. If we are leaving our experience with God to 90-minutes once a week, it’s not going to be a enough. We need to spend time daily, feeding ourselves.
Then there are those who are so wrapped up in soaking up all they can that they never find a place to serve (so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.) In Galatians 6:9 when Paul says “Let us not grow weary in doing well…” there are a couple of things implied. The first implication is that you are serving. The only way to stop doing something is to be doing it. The other implication is that we should not stop serving.
When we take our eyes off the mission that God has called us to we become focused on our problems, situations, and obstacles. When we keep our eyes focused on Christ all other things pass away. We need to continue to serve, not to the detriment of our relationship with God–our service should come from the strength from that relationship! If we find our desire and ability to serve waning then we may need to examine our experience with God. Up your experience – up your ministry.