“Stan,” I began one morning, “I’ve got a question about ministry work.”
“What’s up?” He responded.
“Well,” I said, “it seems that the more deeply I become involved in my church, the more opportunities there are for even greater involvement.”
“And that’s a problem?” Stan asked.
“It is,” I responded. “There are so many good opportunities, so many worthy causes, I want to do them all, but that doesn’t seem practical.”
“I think you’re right,” Stan replied, “there are a lot of really good ministries to be involved with, and it can be tough to choose. But I also think it’s important to know your own limitations and to know that just because there’s an opportunity it doesn’t necessarily mean that God wants you to pursue it.”
“How so?” I asked.
“Well,” Stan replied, “I’ve got two specific examples. One I observed personally, and one I read about in the Bible. Since it’s always good to start anything with the Bible, let’s start there.”
Continuing, he added, “In the Book of Acts there’s an account where Paul and his companions were on a missionary journey. At one point, they were specifically told by the Holy Spirit not to go to certain places to do their ministry work.”
“Why was that?” I asked.
“I don’t know for certain,” Stan replied, “but it seems that God had something else for them to do, some other place for them to go.”
“And,” he continued, “I think it’s essential for me, when considering where I’m to go and what I’m to do for God, to listen to His voice. He knows a whole lot better than I do what He has for me to pursue.”
“Listen to His voice,” I replied, “and then follow it.”
“Exactly,” Stan said. “And that brings me to what I witnessed personally at the church we were involved with before we moved here.”
“What was that?” I asked.
“There was a man who saw every opportunity for ministry work as God’s call to be involved. He got so involved in trying to be a part of each one that had a need, that he wore himself out and ended up not being able to do any of them.”
“So what happened with him?” I asked.
“He withdrew from all of the ministry work for a time,” Stan replied. “He took seriously the account I mentioned about Paul in the Book of Acts. He prayed for God’s guidance. He prayed that he would follow God’s leading and do only what God had for him to do, not all that he wanted to do on his own.”
“And then did he get back into ministry work?” I asked.
“I did,” Stan said.
“This was you?” I replied.
“It was,” Stan said, “but I also think it can be many others who try to do too much on their own. With me, I became more focused and disciplined in what I pursue and what I don’t pursue. God leads and I try to follow, knowing that He will raise up others to do what He has for them to do. When He says, ‘Don’t go there,’ I try to listen and obey!”
And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. Acts of the Apostles 16:6 – 8.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you have ministry work you want me to do while you keep me on this side of eternity. Thank you, too, that you show me what you have for me to do, as well as what you do not want me to do. I ask for your help in following your lead as to what you have for me, so I do not run ahead of you. Please, Father, open me to listen to your voice as you lead. Help me to listen and to follow. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Ministry opportunities are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that God wants you to pursue all of them. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Are you involved with ministry work? If not, why? It’s easy to not get involved because there is so much to do, but that’s a lie and a distraction of the deceiver. Don’t try to do too much on your own, but also don’t be deceived into doing too little or nothing. Do you know how to determine what and what not to undertake?