My first go round on college I was a Theater Major. I loved the stage - being on it, behind it and directing, as well. There was something about using the talents I had to impress other people that gave me a sense of accomplishment. I loved the "great job!" and the "you were good in that" compliments because they were things I did not receive growing up. Acting was something I was good at and I knew it.
After college (round 1) was over, life and responsibility began with the arrival of our daughter, Eleighsha. Since the theater was no longer accessable to me, I chose a new "stage" to perform upon. My new stage was now what I recognized at the time as "church". Part of theater is music and I love music. So I played the part of a "music minister" or a "worship leader" (whatever the appropriate term was depending on where I was at). I could sing and get those "great job" and "I was blessed by that" compliments and even convinced myself I was involved in 'ministry' by performing every week. Sadly, by the world's standards - I was.
In August of 1988 God brought me to that place where I realized that this was not my stage, but rather God's. He wrote the script, built the set and chose each player for their respective parts. Now, he had chosen me. In submission to His calling, I surrendered my pen and scripting notebook and mad a concious decision to play the part He had assigned me. As anyone who had directed any amount of theater can tell you, it is difficult to "follow cues" from another director (because you KNOW better than they do, of course!) and more often that I would care to confess, God has had to pull me off-stage to remind me that this whole thing is HIS story and He knows best how it should be played out.
So, for 23 years now I have been in a learning role, kind of like an under-study. God has been revealing to me things I never saw in my prior 21 years of stage presence. One of these things that has convicted me of late is our approach to ministry. For years I have struggled to achieve what I thought God wanted me to do as far as reaching out to those in need and extending a helping hand of some sort. However, it never looked quite like I expected it would look. I wanted people to see my good works and glorify my Father in heaven, as scripture says. But , they never seemed to respond that way. More often than not, it was me or the group I was with who got the kuddos. 23 years ago this would have been great - but not today.
In the last couple of weeks, God has begun to reveal to me that He doesn't want or expect me to "perform good works", but rather to make myself available for Him to work through me and then just "get out of His way" so that He might do those things that will draw all men to Himself. Any and every thing that I do in my flesh will perish with this age, but those things that God does through me (and you) will last for eternity. Actions are outward efforts on our part to dupilcate what God wants to do from the inside. But, actions are just an act. Ministry happens when God, working through His children, reaches out and does what needs to be done in order to bring honor to His name THROUGH the available vessels that we have crucified to self. So, in reality, ministry is not something we do, but rather something that God does through us.