Today, in the course of a conversation, a friend asked “So, do you still want to move to Paris someday?”
I replied, “I’m not sure. Certainly, I want to spend some time there, but I don’t know if I’m exactly called to live in Paris. I mean, it doesn’t seem like there would be much opportunity for ministry there.”
To clarify, I was actually alluding to the fact that much of Europe is spiritually absent and there would likely be less fellowship with a strong spiritual community. But there is no city without vast opportunities for ministry. As I reflected later on my answer (or my poor articulation of it, rather), I started thinking about what “ministry” really is.
We talk a lot about ministry in theory. Sometimes, though, ministry is mistakenly equated with evangelism, teaching, or church leadership. The idea of having one’s own ministry is distant and perpetually future, too ambitious for the current season.
If only we could see ministry as a way of life.
Kindness is a ministry. Listening is a ministry. Generosity is a ministry. Strengthening people to do the right thing is a ministry. Seemingly “non-spiritual” acts of service are wholly sanctified when used to minister the Lord’s love and provision. Anything we do to serve others and demonstrate the love of Christ is ministry. But at the same time, it isn’t just about doing things. It’s about loving people more than we love ourselves, an impossible task in our own power.
Perhaps the reason we lack fulfillment in ministry is because the Spirit is absent from our endeavors. And perhaps He’s absent because we fail to acknowledge Him.
But what if we stopped relying on human effort and being content with human results? What if we sought the power of the Spirit and invited Him to make our work fruitful? Wouldn’t He be faithful to transform ordinary into extraordinary and least into greatest?
Isn’t it possible that each of us can lead lives and ministries such that, in the words of Lewis, “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further”? The goal being not just to impact, but to live well, love well, and serve well wherever we are. A life concerned with blessing others, meeting their needs, drawing them to the LORD, extending mercy. This is the life God calls us to. This is where the Spirit works. This, to me, is ministry.
May it start here.