All of us need a way of confirming and adding strength to the call of God upon our lives. The Apostle Paul in Acts 20 helps us do that. Paul calls for the elders of the church to come and meet him in Miletus as he travels towards Jerusalem hoping he can arrive before the festival of Pentecost. He begins his message to them with a summary of his ministry among them and that’s where I want us to begin today.
I want to use his message as a template for establishing and verifying our ministry. I will list seven questions and give Paul’s answer for each question. I believe if the answers we give to these questions are not similar to the apostle’s we should rethink the kind of ministry we are pursuing.
- What’s the one task to which I am called? The Apostle says, ” I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20: 24) Whether it is highlighting a personal work of God’s deliverance or a particular focus of teaching, our one task should reflect the ‘good news of God’s grace’ in some way.
2. What is the one attitude that I keep in the forefront of all I do to fulfill that task? Our understanding of our calling is blanketed with all humility, Paul says. We are not about self-promotion or profit. We may become well known and blessed but these are never ends in themselves. As Proverbs 3 points out, in all our ways we acknowledge the grace and goodness of the Lord.
3. What is it that one thing that brings me to tears and so grips my soul that I must follow through? What is it that induces such a reaction? The Apostle says it is “being entrusted with the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 1: 9, 2: 4, 19-20) and the results the gospel produces in people.
4. What is the one thing I must do for which I will withstand any and all opposition? What is the one thing I will do regardless of reward or recognition? The Apostle says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom, the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” (Galatians 6: 14 – 15)
5. What is the one thing that I repeatedly do that proves the most helpful to others, whether it is shared personally and individually or with a crowd in public? God doesn’t call us to anything that is perpetually fruitless or barren. Who benefits from what we do or teach? There’s got to be somebody for whom God has called us. “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20: 20)
6. Does this one thing I do solemnly affirm and witness to repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? All ministry calls us to an activity, whether direct or indirect. But, all activity is not necessarily ministry. Make sure the activity you undertake allows people the opportunity and grace to live their lives under God. “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20: 21)
7. When all is said and done, do I feel compelled by the Spirit to keep on doing this one thing? If I stop doing the ministry, is there any withdrawal? Do I have “fire in my bones” that smolders and looks for air when I’m not actively pursuing what God has asked me to do? The Apostle says “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20: 23-24)
Examine your ministry. Use this template and we will pray for each other to have a fruitful and more effective ministry.