…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

What’s ministry, serving God? Ministering Word or serving tables? Feeling weary, tired?

While reading Acts 6, found something interesting, that will hopefully clarify

What’s ministry about?
Is ministry, serving God, … ‘spiritual‘ stuff only?

What did Jesus do, while He was on earth ?

In the the second section of this post,
some thoughts on how to safeguard against being weary, tired, burnout in ministry, serving.
(Before addressing this, its best we define clearly what ministry really is,
from the Bible.)

How is a fruitful ministry nurtured & sustained ?

Are you called to the ministry ?

Let’s look at Acts 6:

Acts 6:1-6 (NASB)
Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said,
“It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.

Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Ministry of the word or .. serving food, serving tables,

Is one more spiritual,  … than the other?
Is one far better, more important ?
Is one more to be aspired ?
Does doing one, … exclude being involved in the other?

What qualifications are important ?

Does it separate the church
into 2 classes of people ?
(like the people of the world?)

Was this the way it was in the New Testament church?’

On a side note, … how are widows cared for ?

Now let’s superimpose in the Greek for 2 key words:

Acts 6:1-6 (NASB)
Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving (διακονία diakonia) of food.
So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said,
“It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (διακονέω diakoneō) tables.

Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry (διακονία diakonia)  of the word.”
The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.

Let’s have a look at the Greek words used for serving, serve, & ministry in this passage:

serving (διακονία diakonia) of food
serve (διακονέω diakoneō) tables

Interestingly, h
ere’s an example where Jesus used the word διακονέω diakoneō):

26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes
to become great among you
shall be your servant,

27 and whoever wishes to be first among you
shall be your slave;

28 just as the Son of Man did not come
to be served
   (διακονέω diakoneō),
but to serve   (διακονέω diakoneō),
and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28 (NASB)

the Son of Man came to serve (διακονέω diakoneō)

back to Acts 6,

ministry (διακονία diakonia)  of the word
serving (διακονία diakonia) of food

The same word in the Greek !!

Hence, there is no distinction between ministry (διακονία diakonia)  of the word
and serving (διακονία diakonia) of food, serving tables,
… or preparing food in the kitchen to serve the people.

Serving (διακονία diakonia) the needs of the people.

Thus, ministry is about partnering with God, .. in both
practically loving & serving others,
.. and building people for God’s glory.

“It is not what a man does
that determines whether his work is
sacred or secular,
it is why he does it.
The motive is everything.
Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act.
All he does is good and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
— A.W. Tozer

Jesus Example

At the last supper:

John 13:1-5, 12-17 (NASB)
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,

got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
Then He poured water into the basin,
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

Jesus began his last supper with a physical act of love,
a kind practical deed of service,
an unforgettable snapshot of humility
washing his disciples feet,
individually, tenderly, patiently,
… one person at a time.


12 So when He had washed their feet,
and taken His garments and reclined at the table again,
He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?

1You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher,
washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

15 For I gave you an example
you also should do
as I did to you

16 Truly, truly, I say to you,
a slave is not greater than his master,
nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.

17 If you know these things,
you are blessed if you do them.

After Jesus had physically served (διακονία diakonia)  his disciples
Jesus shared his final message     (John 14 – 17)
he ministered (διακονία diakonia)  the word
to his beloved disciples.

Jesus did both ‘serving tables, serving food‘ and ‘ministry of the word‘ faithfully.

Jesus, our example.

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power,

and how he went around doing good
and healing all who were under the power of the devil,
because God was with him.
Acts 10:38 (NIV)

Thus, ministry is not just   about a particular time and day of the week,
at some sacred place,
with some spiritual titles or roles or robes,
up in front to a crowd.

its also   like the good Samaritan,
on the lonely, dusty, unsafe road to Jericho,
when no one’s looking
compassionately ministering to a stranger in need
(while the priest and Levite walked on their journey)

33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was,
and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him.
34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them.
Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’
Luke 10:33-35 (NCV)

spontaneous, … unplanned, .. unscripted,
a lifestyle,

in love.
the Samaritan, .. he felt compassion for him
from the inside  –>  overflowing out,
love, compassion,

in compassionate agape, love,
humble, kind, practical service,

Ministry, .. service, .. serving God,
as defined by Jesus to be as simple as

35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink;  …

(even a child, can give another child a cup of water)

 40 The King will answer and say to them,
‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it
to one of these brothers of Mine,
even the least of them,
you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25:35, 40 (NASB)

Love expressed … through service, … simple service to someone in need
… serving just one, .. one person, .. a child,
a drink. some food, ….

is serving the Lord, Himself.
you did it to Me

(eg. … unseen, preparing food in the kitchen)


9:36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha …
this woman was abounding with deeds
of kindness and charity which she continually did.
9:39…  all the widows stood … showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.

10:3 One day at about three in the afternoon Cornelius had a vision.
He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said,
10:4 … “Your prayers and gifts to the poor
have come up as a memorial offering before God.

Acts 9:36 (NASB), 10:3,4 (NIV)

We don’t have to make headlines, to make a difference
— Truett Cathy’

I saw 2 beautiful portraits of service at a weekend retreat recently,

— After a meal, there was an adorable 3-5 year old girl, … who just spontaneously came up to us in the kitchen.  With a towel in hand, she carefully wiped dry each washed dish.

— Also, … after a meal, there was a lady who starting cutting someone’s hair, using the tools from her toolbox.  I was told she voluntarily cuts people’s hair after the meetings (without charge).
She shows her love to God, and her love for God’s people by what she does well — cutting/styling their hair.   Praise God, for her ‘out-of-the-box’ ministry of love 🙂 .

Having been involved in multi-ethnic migrant and student ministry, … I think the most effective way to reach out and bless others is through serving others with food, i.e. having meals together.

serving (διακονία diakonia) of food, … serve (διακονέω diakoneō) tables,
 ministry (διακονία diakonia)  of the word  Acts 6:1,2

Preparing food for someone is an expression of our love for them, … as we fondly think of them while preparing the meal, … ‘a home-cooked meal made with lots of love’.
Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan Wolfelt

Let’s return back to Acts 6,

The original apostles, whom Jesus personally discipled for 3 years
were the first group of shepherds.

Now, another batch of shepherds was being raised up for the ever growing church
(of more than 5000)

These first leaders selected … by the people
in Acts were known by everyone as
men of good reputation,     (character, good deeds, confirmed by others, … factual fruit)

full of the Spirit       (indispensible)
full of wisdom      (important)
… full of faith       (essential)
and of the Holy Spirit
…  full of grace and power ..    

Acts 6:3, 5, 8 (NASB)

They had a balance of
full of faith             +  men of good reputation

full of the Spirit    +   full of wisdom
full of power
        +   full of grace

Word,   Holy Spirit &   Christlike  character & service,

they all began by serving tables, .. serving food,
serving widows.

The seven had both spiritual and character qualities:
a visible, consistent, tangible walk with the Lord,
and service to others,
which others observed, … a lifestyle.

Hence, they were selected by the people.
The people must have loved each of the seven to select them.
They saw & felt God’s love & faithfulness in them,
certain they’re be able to humbly serve the widows compassionately,
both Hebrew and Hellenistic widows from their heart.

The congregation was aligned with God’s view,
… God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.    1 Samuel 16:7 (NET);
(rather than, outward qualifications, social status, achievements, stature, etc)

On a side note, all seven selected by the congregation were Hellenistic (Hellenistic names), while the apostles were native Hebrews.
Leadership diversity,  …  reflecting the rich diversity in the congregation.

twelve apostles … seven deacons,
mutual accountability, … collaboration of gifts.

And in the midst of serving tables … serving food,
as they were full of the Spirit and faith,
they probably ministered God’s healing and God’s word,
timely words of encouragement, comfort
to the widows, … one on one,
and anyone they came into contact with.

A lamb eye view,
an eagle eye view.

Hence, its no surprise
they also naturally soared
into the ministry of the word, and God’s healing locally and regionally.
Praise God!

… in the next section of Acts 6 — Stephen, one of the seven

6:7 The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

6:8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

and beginning of Acts 8 — Philip, one of the seven

8:5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city.
Acts 6:8-10,  8:5-8 (NASB)

The word of God kept on spreading; the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly
The Holy Spirit’s working through Stephen & Philip  — great wonders and signs among the people, … many healed, … great rejoicing in that city.

20 And they went out and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them,
and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.

Mark 16:20 (NASB)

Certainly, ministry was not a case of

either serving tables or ministry of the word’
‘both’ 🙂 

They porously flowed between serving tables and ministry of word
to whoever had needs.
A compassionate servant heart.

Serving tables also keeps one’s feet and ear on the ground,
and helps one to minister God’s Word
with meaningful & relevant messages, and  conversations,
that’s practical, realistic, balanced, and relatable.

Thus, ministry and gifting isn’t static,
or confined to a box defined by men.

It begins with a touch of God,
a heart of service,
a heart of compassion
for people in need,

touching others with God’s touch.

Nurtured daily by

Sit, .. in the Lord’s presence & His Word,
Walk … in the Light of His Word,
Stand … in the power of God.

A daily, dynamic relationship with Jesus
in prayer and in His Word.

I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit,

for apart from Me
you can do nothing
John 15:5 (NASB)

Fruitful ministry is impossible,
without continually abiding in Jesus.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John,
and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.
And they realized that
they had been with Jesus
14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them,
they could say nothing against it.

Ministry overflows from
a personal prayerful walk with Jesus
they had been with Jesus.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place,
where he  prayed.
Mark 1:35 (NIV)

End of day,
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.
46 After leaving them,
he went up on a mountainside
Mark 6:45, 46 (NIV)

16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
17 One day He was teaching;  … and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.
Luke 5:16, 17 (NASB)

Jesus took time off to pray to the Father daily,
which anointed His teaching and ministry with the Lord’s presence.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen
like one being instructed
Isaiah 50:4 (NIV)

Compassionate, effective ministry overflows from our time with the Lord in His presence.
… refreshed by the Lord

Ministry is not about the ‘What?’
but  ‘to Who?’
& compassionately serving their needs.

Ministry happens in whatever situations,
everyday situations,
that one finds oneself in,
anytime, anywhere, … spontaneous, unscripted,
like Stephen and Philip
— unassuming, simple … all weather, all-purpose,
versatile, trusty swiss-army knifes.


Acts 6:6 And these they brought before the apostles; after praying, they laid their hands on them
The seven were perfectly delegated,
and empowered,
supported with prayer,
to serve the people;
not constrained, not boxed-in.

Its important to note that the church in Acts was birthed and lived under dangers and persecution.
Not long after Stephen was appointed,
… he was falsely accused and martyred for ministering the gospel  (by stoning).
(Acts 6:8- 7:60)

While ministry sometimes means risk,
it always means surrender
— Jeri Little

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Focus on Jesus

To sustain any ministry,
prayer & time in God’s word is paramount,
as we’ve seen in Jesus’ life example (Mark 1:35, 6:45,46).


38 While they were traveling, Jesus entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.
40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked,
“Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”

41 The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10: 38-42 (HCSB)

While serving, Martha was
* distracted — lost focus on Jesus
* discouraged —  “don’t You care” …  comparing with others — “my sister doesn’t care”, “only I care”
* disappointed — “my sister has left me to serve alone”  … complaining about others, self-pity, … conflict
* disturbed, distress — “you are worried and upset about many things”confused, frustrated.

She lost her focus of Jesus,
listening to Jesus.

She was distracted by tasks,
and others (comparing her level of busyness to that of others).

Whenever ministry or tasks takes precedence,
and when prayer & fellowship with Jesus fades,

weariness sets in
— discouraged, distracted, disappointed, disturbed, distress
resulting in
 disagreement,  … personal conflicts, … (dispute?   hopefully not)
Lack of peace.

At Martha’s home in Luke 10, …. during New Testament times, there’re no supermarkets, ready-made microwaveable meals, takeaways, internet food delivery, instant noodles, … meals were prepared from scratch at home.   It took time and effort,  eg kneading & baking bread from scratch.
Welcoming guests with home cooked meals was the norm.
That night, at Martha’s place, … dinner/lunch … still had to be prepared for all to eat.

Being spiritual, … is also being practical, down-to-earth, real.
(cooking food to serve others is also ministry 🙂 )

Busy? Weary?

Mark 6:31 (ERV)
Jesus and his followers were in a very busy place.
There were so many people
that he and his followers did not even have time to eat.

There were tremendous needs, … great ministry was happening, …  (a revival?)

He said to them, “Come with me.
We will go to a quiet place to be alone.

There we will get some rest.”

Jesus’ priority was clear.
Come with me .. get some rest

Especially for busy folks, time to get off the  ‘busy in church, busy ministry‘ treadmill,
Come with me .. get some rest

29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31 (NKJV)

41 The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but one thing is necessary.
Luke 10:41, 42 (HCSB)

but one thing is necessary.
Listen to the Lord, wait on the Lord,

The Lord said to me: “Son of man,
pay attention;
look   with your eyes and
listen   with your ears
to everything   I tell you
about   all
the statutes and laws of the Lord’s temple. …

Ezekiel 44:5 (HCSB)

There’s another joyful occasion when Jesus ate at Mary & Martha’s home again,

Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.
John 12:1,2 (NASB)

They (together) made Him a supper 🙂
Martha was serving …  🙂
They’ve learned their lesson.

Let’s remember, Jesus said,
” .. I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.”
not us,
not any of us,
but the Lord, He will build His church.

“God’s work
done in God’s way
will never lack God’s supply.”
― James Hudson Taylor

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

In the Chinese translation of Psalm 46:10,
the Chinese word for ‘Be still’ —  ‘休 息’
expresses ‘take a break, … rest’        (intermission, pause)

Serve the Lord with gladness!
Serve the Lord with joy;
come before him with singing
Psalm 100:2 (ESV, NCV)

Whenever gladness and joy is fading, diminishing,
its time to refresh, revive, re-energise, … rest,
39 sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to what He said.

Let’s remember what Jesus said,

28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

29 All of you, take up My yoke
and learn from Me,
because I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for yourselves.

30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB)

In ministry to others, serving the Lord, let’s remember

Jesus is gentle and humble,
His yoke & burden is easy and light,
He gives rest, … & reminds us to rest,

Be joyful and glad serving,
come before Him with singing

take a break,
its OK,
Jesus invites us,
Come with me .. get some rest

Feeling weary, tired?

There’re times we may honestly feel …
tired, … like Martha,
dispirited like Elijah   (1 Kings 19:1-18)
overwhelmed like Jeremiah     (Jeremiah 20)

Don’t worry, … we’re not the first one to say,
“its too hard Lord, … I want to give up, …. send someone else”

God understands, .. and He ministered to them.
Jesus perfectly understands.

41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying,
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me;
yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.
Luke 22:41,42 (NASB)

If we’re feeling weary, tired,
maybe … its time to prayerfully review what we’re involved in,
is this what God is leading me into?
what’s the priority?
is it sustainable?
is it effective?
… are we trying too hard on our own strength?
are we relying on the Holy Spirit?
prayer and Word?

Let’s be honest, we can’t solve everyone’s problem.
Only God has the ability.
In such situations, our role is to lead them to Jesus,
humbly walk alongside, and prayerfully encourage them to walk closely with Jesus,
and pray Jesus work in their lives, turn their lives around.

At a personal level, … perhaps its best to first look at ourselves,
and, being open & honest to listen to the Lord and others in:

– managing expectations with prayer & God’s word
.. review the expectations of others,
.. review our own personal unspoken expectations, goals, objectives, motivations

“… you cannot let the passion of someone else
distract you from God’s priorities.
If we are not careful, we will chase after everything
but Jesus Christ”
— Ronnie W Floyd

– managing critique & criticism with prayer & God’s word.
Listen & review the facts and evidence objectively.
Does it align with God’s word, … godly values?
Prayerfully, consider, …  is God speaking through the critique/criticism?
Is there room to improve?     Blind spots?
Prayerfully, receive counsel.

Psalm 141:5 (NKJV)
Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it. …

– have we stopped, … and really listened ?

– what’s our identity anchored on?  What makes us feel valued?

– how well do we work with others?
do we need to shout the loudest?

– how have our words, or actions affected others?
Have our passive in-action affected others?

Other causes:

Feelings of obligation?  Sense of duty?  … guilt?  shame?

Endless meetings, … indecisiveness, … many voices, opinions, … talk, no action, .. etc

Need training? … resources, resourcing issues? … priorities, direction issues?
Need support?

Delegate & empower others ?  (like the situation in Acts 6)

Group, relationship issues ?
Character issues?

What is God teaching me through this?
Is God working or dealing with something in my life?

Once, was invited by a friend to visit his church, and a special ethnic celebration lunch after the service.
However, between the service and lunch … was the church’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
As we sat through the reports of the church’s many ministries,
there was a common theme in the ministry reports — not enough volunteers, turnover of people

Perhaps, … a case of chewing more than what one can swallow?

On the other hand, there’s also reasonable sized churches shouldered by the few, … where few volunteer;  … a systemic problem ?

The New Testament church was simple,
informal, fruitful, loving,  … effective.

Effectiveness is doing the right things.
— Peter Drucker

less ..  is more.
downsize, … right size.

simple, … yet effective.

Be upfront, honest, … learn to say, ..  ‘No‘,
with a clear conscience.

Moving along, …
perhaps, … time to review objectives, KPIs, reporting,
what gets measured, gets done“, right?

What gets measured?

Very much depends on the values of the leaders or team.
What’s valuable, what’s treasured.
What the priorities of the leaders or team.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,
and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil,
for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45 (ESV)

Sadly, sometimes … what’s visible, news-worthy gets prioritized,
while others fall through the cracks.

‘good people, … but unclear priorities’
results in inconsistency between words and actions
— baffled, demoralized team members.

Not right now, … maybe later, … or next year
Have clear priorities.
clear messages, clear expectations.

In the Bible, did Jesus give quantitative ministry targets to the disciples?

“He who is faithful in a very little thing
is faithful also in much;
and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.

Luke 16:10 (NASB)

Faithfulness … a very little thing

… Help and give without expecting
a return. …
Our Father is kind;     you be kind.

Luke 6:35 (MSG)

The disciples spread the Good News everywhere.
The Lord worked with them.
He confirmed his word
by the miraculous signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:20 (GW)

2:7 … And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
13:49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.
Acts 2:47, 13:49 (NKJV)

What inspired them?

For Christ’s love compels us …
2 Corinthians 5:14 (NIV)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Romans 8:14 (NKJV)

This hope will not disappoint us, because
God’s love
has been poured out in our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5 (HCSB)

In God’s kingdom,

Unless the Lord builds a house,
its builders labor over it in vain;
unless the Lord watches over a city,
the watchman stays alert in vain.
Psalm 127:1 (HCSB)

… apart from Me
you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (NASB)

For God inspired fruit,

How could one man pursue a thousand,
or two put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
unless the Lord had given them up?
Deuteronomy 32:30 (HCSB)

15 Then Moses said to him (the Lord),
“If your Presence does not go with us,
do not send us up from here.”
Exodus 33:15 (NIV)

Is Jesus in the boat with us in this?
Is His presence guiding us into this?

Serving church, … or serving God ?

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize.
When you meet together, 
one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said.
But everything that is done
must strengthen all of you

1 Corinthians 14:26 (NLT)

Does this activity strengthen people ?  How?

Building church … or building people ?

On another note,

Paul wrote
20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.
21 For we are taking pains to do what is right,
not only in the eyes of the Lord
but also in the eyes of man.
2 Corinthians 8:21 (NIV)

to do what is right, before the Lord, … and others;
ethics, legal, compliance, Biblical.

Let’s very quickly look at the process the church took in Acts 6 to solve their problem,
… like churches in general, they also had problems with various groups within the church.

A problem was identified – 1 Hellenistic Jew widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
A solution was suggested – select from among you seven men put in charge of this task.
The statement found approval with the whole congregation;
and the congregation chose (the men, Hellenistic Jews)
the apostles prayed, they laid their hands on them.

a complaint was rapidly addressed, and agreeably resolved.
The issue was not allowed to sink into dissatisfaction, disagreement, dispute
between the groups.  It was openly discussed.

They focused on finding a solution, … rather, than fault-finding.

Since the problem arose between two different groups in the congregation — Hellenistic Jews and Hebraic Jews, … one possible solution would be to split into two congregations.
Thankfully, the church chose … unity in diversity and mutual respect.  They worked through their differences.  Praise God!

The problem arose due to the church growth (a few thousands).  They modified the church structure, and empowered more people to meet the new challenges.  Agile, responding to change.

In corporate speak — they first obtained “buy in” from all stakeholders.
Decisions were not made unilaterally, or top-down.
They hatched a plan … and followed a plan to effectively meet the need in their midst.

Acts 6:5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation;
and they chose
The people was respected.
They were consulted, and involved in the decision,
and a consensus reached.  Hence, they supported its implementation.
This builds harmonious unity, … like a loving family.

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.
Outdo one another in showing honor.

Be devoted to each other like a loving family.
Excel in showing respect for each other.
Romans 12:10 (HCSB, NOG)

Whenever, respect for one another diminishes,
people feel they’re taken for granted.
Whenever family affection, brotherly love, respect diminishes
in a ministry, …

ministry sadly fades .. into an  activity, a project,
each person simply viewed as a  resource,
communication centers around  getting things done,

relationships become formal, top-down;
not much different from working at the office,
… a job.
Church … becomes a corporate organisation, … task driven, … process led, … quick fixes,
ministry becomes industry.

Wearines, and wariness creeps in.

Another common cause of weariness and wariness,
is a lack of planing,
—  considering the available resources, budget, realistic objectives, sustainability, right resources, priorities.

25 The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;   (for winter)
Proverbs 30:25 (NASB)

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality
— Max De Pre

a last-minute manager ?

Ad hoc, reactive, fire-fighting management style burns out people.
It also shows a lack of  respect  of other people’s time and resources.

Furthermore, if someone is indecisive and unsure, and keeps changing their minds,
or is a bureaucratic micro-manager, … or a taskmaster, resource manager,
its difficult to collaborate with them,
especially, when everyone is a volunteer.

Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:2 (NLT)

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
Psalm 78:72 (NIV)

Leaders who mean & act, what they say, … consistent,
… and having developed the right skills and experience to deliver, to help, to minister, to manage.

By faith,  … does not mean … no planning,
working through shared objectives, scheduling activities within team’s availability in mind, etc, etc.
Jesus talks about planning, …

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower,
does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see
if he has enough to complete it?

Luke 14:28 (NASB)

Planning is good stewardship,
mutual accountability, and aids in review of progress, effectiveness.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!
— Benjamin Franklin

Jesus said, “Say only yes if you mean yes,
and no if you mean no. …”

Matthew 5:37 (NCV)

Integrity, .. follow-through, quality delivery is just as important;
builds trust.
Can others trust us?  Do we keep our word?

As one movie character puts it,

Do or do not.
… There is no try”
— Yoda

Avoid half-promises … ‘maybe (?)’, … false hope,
unknown delays/silence.

Remember … a time when someone said they would,
but they didn’t, … without any prior notice,
… leaving others to salvage the situation;
baffled, disappointed.

If could be as simple, as replying messages,
… rather than silence.

The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Many people claim to be loyal,
but it is hard to find a ·trustworthy [reliable] person.
but who can find someone faithful [enough to do it]?
Proverbs 11:3 (NIV),  20:6 (NCV, CJB)

(See also Psalm 15:4.)

Things change, plans change, the unexpected happen
thus, communicate early, … retreat early (if required),
to avoid disappointing others later;
be open and honest.

Most people are reasonable and forgiving,
however, … things still need to get done,
problems timely addressed,
messages appropriately replied, … instead of a mysterious silence.

An honest answer
    is like a kiss on the lips
Proverbs 24:26 (NIV)

Trust is earned,
with faithful, consistent action.

Trust is fragile,
yet priceless for any worthwhile endeavor.

James wrote:
Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other
so that you may be healed …

James 5:16 (TLB)

Open, honest sharing builds trust
between friends;
being trust-worthy,
worthy of trust of others.

Besides planning, … cultivating trusting, caring respectful friendships is also essential,
after all, … this is church, right?
(not the office)

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds;
Proverbs 27:23 (NASB)

Task-oriented ministry, results in roles/responsibility relationships,
good worker, bad worker’ mindset;   task-based relationships.
Task-oriented ministry breeds utilitarian relationships
 a relationship is valued according to how useful it is.
Relationships with concealed expectations
— how it can further one’s tasks, needs, project, goals, interests, vision, agenda;
out of sight/ministry, … out of mind.  … transient relationship.

… Help and give without expecting a return. …
Luke 6:35 (MSG)

Sometimes, there are leaders who are hard to please,
no matter how hard one tries, … its ‘never-good-enough’.
This leads to anxiety and stress on those trying their best.

A person’s anxiety will weigh him down,
but an encouraging word makes him joyful.
Proverbs 12:25 (NOG)

Anyone and everyone needs encouragement, … a ‘pat on the back’  now and then.

Friendships —  no strings attached, … a friend is valued for who he/she is, … prayerful, practical support through life’s journey. … Even when they’re miles away, .. we think of them.
Steady, faithful, sincere, … cheering us on.

A true friend is always loyal,
and a brother is born to help in time of need.
Proverbs 17:17 (TLB)

Friends listen to one another, and value each other’s thoughts, feedback.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)

Most people have never really been listened to.
… listening can bring such powerful healing,
it is one of the most beautiful gifts
that people can give and receive.

— Carl Faber

They may forget what you said,
but they will never forget
how you made them feel
— Carl W. Buechner

Near the end of Paul’s life, and in prison a second time,
he honored his faithful, steadfast friend, Onesiphorus,
who quietly ministered in the background,
who searched through the prisons in Rome
to finally find Paul, to refresh & minister to him;
still a friend,
whether he’s a chained prisoner (46664?), … or a well-known apostle.

15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.

16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus,
because he often refreshed me
and was not ashamed of my chains.

17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome,
he searched hard for me until he found me.

18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day!
You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
2 Timothy 1:15-18 (NIV)

“And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end”
— Michael W Smith

In a sense,
ministry is being a trusty, reliable swiss-army knife
to a new-found friend, … or a friend for a long while,
a friend in need.

In the New Testament church, … church life is described in Acts 2:

46 The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day.
They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food.
47 At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people.
Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.

Acts 2:46, 47 (NOG)

A restaurant meal,
… professionally presented, elegant ambience, attentive waiter service, fine dining,

or …
a casual, rustic home-cooked comfort meal
lovingly prepared & shared,
served in love,
leisurely savored with family, meaningful, edifying fellowship ?
(… like Martha’s home )

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth
so that you have sincere love for each other,
love one another deeply,
from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22 (NIV)

Ministry flows out of  sincere love, & compassion for people,
humbly serving others in a Christ-like way,
and building trust, respect, nurturing Christ-centered friendships with one another.
Practically sharing God’s love with one another and others,
and whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.
16:14 (TLB),

Friendship with God, .. loving God,
friendships with one another, .. loving one another,
… overflowing to, … serving one another,
serving others
in ministry.

whoever wishes to become great among you
shall be your servant,

Controling, top-down, formal,
peer reciprocal   friendships that edify,
humbly serving one another,
collaboratively serving others.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, …
Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)

Fruitful collaborative partnerships are built on
trust, mutual respect, and like-minded passion & dedication.
(rather than organisational hierarchies)

Trust is nurtured with caring, refreshing, reciprocal, forgiving friendships with one another,
… and this takes time, … and us making time for it.

Healthy mutual respect builds trust.
No one likes to be taken for granted.

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?
Amos 3:3 (NLT)

19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask,
it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name,
I am there in their midst.”
Matthew 18:19,20 (NASB)

In Revelation, the Lord reminded the church in Ephesus, … a hardworking, persevering, steadfast church:
I know what you have done
how hard you have worked and how you have endured.
I also know that you cannot tolerate wicked people.
You have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not apostles. You have discovered that they are liars.

You have endured, suffered trouble
because of my name,
and have not grown weary.

However, I have this against you:
The love you had at first
is gone

Revelation 2:2-4 (NOG)

Paul wrote:

13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, …
… but do not have love,
it profits me nothing.

passion for a cause,
… or inspired by Christ’s love ?

Love is the guiding light beacon, in a stormy dark night.

13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

14:1   Pursue love, …
Follow the way of love, …
Let love be your highest goal!

16:14  and whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.
1 Corinthians 13:3, 13 (NASB),  14:1 (NASB, NIV, NLT),  16:14 (TLB),

On a final note,

36 Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas,
which is translated Son of Encouragement,
37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 4:36,37 (HCSB)

its interesting that somehow Barnabas did not make it to
the list of the original seven,

but, …

… in God’s time and season, …
God hadn’t forgotten him,

20 But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 Then the report about them was heard by the church that was at Jerusalem,
and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch.
Acts 11:20-22 (HCSB)

As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
“Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul
for the work I have called them to.”
Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
Acts 13:2,3 (HCSB)


10 Whoever is faithful in very little
is also faithful in much,
and whoever is unrighteous in very little
is also unrighteous in much.

Luke 16:10 (HCSB)

… Your Father can see what is done in secret,
and he will reward you.
Matthew 6:4, 6, 18 (NCV)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,
so that He may exalt you at the proper time,
casting all your care on Him,
because He cares about you.
1 Peter 5:6,7 (HCSB)

Ministry is all about faithfulness and humility
and a heart of compassion & kindness,
nurtured by a personal daily, prayerful walk with the Lord,
trusting Him to lead us to be a blessing to someone else.
casting all your care on Him
because He cares about you

Inspired by Jesus and His love, led by the Holy Spirit,

Let love be your highest goal! …
1 Corinthians 14:1  (NLT)

God’s love
has been poured out in our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5 (HCSB)

Love is the guiding light beacon, in a stormy dark night.

In humility, giving glory to the Lord.

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.
Psalm 115:1 (NASB)

Unassuming, simple … all weather, all-purpose, … versatile, trusty
swiss-army knifes.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always excelling in the Lord’s work,
knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (HCSB)

Let us not lose heart in  doing good,
for in due time we will  reap
if we do not grow weary.
Galatians 6:9 (HCSB)

Finally, to the question “Are you called to the ministry ?” (posed at the beginning of this post)
We’ll all invited to have a personal relationship with the Lord,
and all of us, will receive the Holy Spirit,
who empowers us
to be a blessing to others,
i.e. minister to others.

We know
we are not able in ourselves
to do any of this work.

God makes us able
to do these thing
1 Corinthians 3:5 (NLV)

Further reading:

Busy at church? What’s really essential? Prayer & discipling disciples (click here)

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life

How about love?
Measure, measure your life in love”
— Jonathan Larson

“The “layman” need never think of his humbler task as being inferior to that of his minister. Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act. All he does is good and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For such a man, living itself will be sacramental and the whole world a sanctuary. His entire life will be a priestly ministration. As he performs his never so simple task he will hear the voice of the seraphim saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
— A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Ch 10.

On friendship:

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
– Walter Winchell

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
– Unknown

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”
– Woodrow T. Wilson

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”
– Elisabeth Foley

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
– Bernard Meltzer

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
― Albert Schweitzer

Serving Quietly Ministering Spirit & Truth

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
January 7, 2017

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License





This entry was posted on January 7, 2017 by in Daily Rice, Ministering Spirit & Truth, Ministry, Serving Quietly, Shepherd leadership and tagged .

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