front row back row

My friend Julie loves the front row of ministry. When she’s on stage, she’s in her element. The audience laughs. They lean in to hear the next word.

She’s so talented! She’s confident.

I traveled to Europe with her to speak a few years ago and discovered something really cool about her.

She’s just as comfortable on the back row.

One night, in Hungary, our options for sleep was a hard, pull-out couch and a long padded bench-like seat. I woke up in the night to see Julie curled in a ball. There was no way she was comfortable. Covers were twisted around her in a wad because she had tried to find a soft place.

There was none.

The next morning I heard singing when I woke up.

Julie sat outside with her Bible soaking in the cool morning rays, singing her heart out to the Lord as she read.

You learn a lot about people when you travel with them for several days, sleeping in cars, trains, and planes.

There was no diva to be found in that girl.

Front row. Spot light – she brought it all to the table.

Back row. Out of sight – she did the same thing.

When I hear people talk about ministry and their goals, there’s a lot of angst.

If I only work harder, I’ll get that book contract.

If I only do this or that, I’ll get that radio interview, that column, that ministry leadership position, that ranking on Amazon, that recognition, that spot on Sunday morning on the stage.

When that doesn’t happen in the time frame they think it should, some start to wring their hands or wonder if God is in it at all. They might even throw their hands in the air and walk away.

I understand how hard it is. I get it; I really do because I’m in my 17th year of ministry.

But when did we start associating the front row as the best row?

Doesn’t it all count?

My friend, Julie, has discovered something powerful.

Ministry is not about a particular feat, but finding where we fit.

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Julie fits perfectly in God’s will, no matter where she’s at or what she is doing.




Let’s redefine ministry to walking with Jesus.

Let’s count every part — the alone parts, the hard parts, the difficult people parts, the it-aint-happening-like-I-thought-it-would parts, the joyous parts — as the process of ministry.

There’s so much good to be found in the harder parts. Growth. Maturity. Wisdom. Patience.

Just as there is in the fun parts — discovering how God can use your life, connecting with people, watching God work!

Ministry, however, isn’t confined to what you do or how you do it.

Ministry is following Jesus.

Ministering to the women who show up at my house every Wednesday night is just as key as my ministry to write books.

Time alone with God is just as weighty as my time in front of people.

Evening walks, where I walk with a grandchild, a friend, or Richard — are just as important as writing words in this blog.

We fit in each of the mundane, the special, the behind-the-scenes, as Jesus is invited into every part and that becomes our true adventure.

Dear Lord, take a look at our hearts. If there’s angst that has nothing to do with ministry but everything to do with us, yank it out. 


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