A question Christian educators often ask themselves is how they can best motivate their students to pursue mission and ministry for the Lord without shaming them into it through guilt. While looking for answers to this question, I received great help from a little book entitled, Beyond Duty, by Tim Dearborn. Dearborn reminded me of a very important principle which helps me keep the issue of ministry in its proper perspective. It is the principle of Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Mission lies at the center of God’s calling to His people, for it is at the center of His heart for the world. Tim Dearborn reminds us, “Christian mission is not our arrogant pursuit of other people to make them like us. Rather, it is our participation in God’s pursuit of all people to make them like him, and their lives like his.” I believe God’s people often collapse in exhaustion after throwing themselves into ministry because they mistakenly think God has given them a mission to perform in the world, and if they do not do it, judgment will come down upon them.
Yes, God has a work for all of us to do, but our involvement in mission is not only our personal duty. Rather it is our privileged participation in the actions of the triune God. We must begin by remembering it is His mission to the world, not ours. For us this means that our first responsibility is not the task, but it is a relationship. We err if we call people to a commitment to a task. Rather, we must call people to a commitment to a Person. Why should we care where one ministers in the world as long as he or she has a passion for Christ? Once one’s commitment to the Person of Christ is solid, the task will take care of itself.
Matthew 6:33 reminds us that we are to seek God’s kingdom first. When we love Jesus first, our selfishness in ministry disappears. Personal agendas are eliminated. Competitions with other ministries ceases. Things become less important and people become more important.
Furthermore, when we put things first and pursue Christ and His righteousness, a wonderful chain reaction of progress results. The more we desire to know Christ, the less time we will spend looking for a cause and more time we will give to cultivating our love for Him. The more we love Christ, the more we will love the people He created. The more we love God’s creation, the more we will want to participate in His mission to draw all creatures to Himself. And the more we participate in God’s mission instead of our own mission, the more joy and fulfillment we experience.
At ITS our goal is to cultivate in our students a heart for ministry that grows out of a passion for Jesus Christ, for those who minister most effectively are not necessarily the most gifted and talented, but those who most strongly desire to know God intimately.
(Article originally published by the author at ITS website)