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.
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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Oh Suzie, I just love this. “Ministry is following Jesus”, such a refreshing reality. It is easy to get caught up in how ministry is supposed to look, but knowing that it is really following Jesus relieves the pressure for my ministry to live up to someone else’s ministry. Thank you so much for this encouragement!
This is a great reminder. It’s easy to get caught up in how we think things should be or how it looks to other people instead of just following Jesus. And even in the parts that seem difficult or mundane we never know how he might work if we give it all to him.
This is a beautiful realization of what ministry really is about.
We should be focused on love.
Sometimes it is hard to be up and positive all the time, especially when your losing a family member or anyone close. It feels good to have my quiet time alone away from others to just let go and be with God. It is nice to have family or friends pick up on our emotions and show caring support.
I’m taking myself out of the pew altogether this week – going on the road with my family for vacation. I’m SO excited. Yes, this means there will be little to no social media, that somebody else will be running my blog, and that I won’t get much done this week with conference approaching.
But. I’m so looking forward to quiet time with my husband and new adventures with the kids. I can’t remember the last time I was this pumped to get away!! Praying for the same contentment you describe in Julie’s beautiful walk. God, pour your rest and joy over us! Thank you Suzie and have a wonderful week:)
We FIT! We fit in. We fit the calling. We simply fit what Jesus has us here for.
Thank you Suzie! Those are powerful words that brush comparison and complaining aside. Hugs. See you SOON! Susan
So, SO good for my heart to hear this. I’m praying that prayer with gusto this morning! Thank you for this message. <3
“Ministry is following Jesus.” Beautiful, simple truth my heart needed to be reminded of today. Thank you, Suzie! Jesus calls me to my own ministry. It doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s. So freeing for today! Bless you!
Beautiful and encouraging, Suzie. I love how you bring ministry back to simple and simply Jesus. Society, even the Christian one, has allowed parts of the 5-fold ministry to become (almost, if not all the way) an idol. Wah! We all need to be reminded of the truth and keep our eyes fixed on simply Jesus.
Absolutely beautiful and truthful. Thanks for sharing such an important lesson for us all.
This is why I love you and how I want to do ministry! The same on the front row and the back row and all the in between rows too!
Oh Suzie… YES! “Ministry is following Jesus.” YES YES YES! I needed this confirmation, and you know exactly why. You are the prime example of a Jesus Follower. Thank you… thank you for setting the example, for staying true to who God called you to be, for encouragement through action. I adore you!
Loved the prayer at the end of this post, Suzie, Amen. Clean up our hearts, Lord.
Hi Susie 🙂 I love this topic! I don’t have a post, but goodness did it resonate with me! For years I had struggled with ministry and many of the dynamics within ministry. I tied my value to that “success”. Then God arranged a time to step away from ministry to minister to the special needs in my family at the time. When the time came to re-enter ministry, it happened to be opening a new satellite Church of our home church. I didn’t go with a desire of where, what, or how I wanted to serve. I simply felt led to say, “Wherever you have the greatest need.” The greatest need wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I cannot tell you how BIG God worked in that ministry. I have been blessed so immensely and He has brought about more than I would have dreamed. Back stage or front stage – it’s His stage where the beautiful happens!
Ministry is following Jesus’ lead and is 100% about love!! AMEN! Great post Suzie. 🙂
Beautiful Suzie. 😘 The back row is most comfortable for me – and it’s just as important – spoke straight to my heart. Thank you dear lady.
Yes, yes, and yes Suzie. I love that you talk about ministry even being with family. I’ve always felt like ministry begins in the home. You impart so much wisdom here. Thank you for teaching and allowing me to grow! Much love-Shannon
Wonderful post, Suzie, thank you so much! I loved where you said that there is so much good to be found in the harder parts. I feel like I’m so far in the back of the room that I wonder why I showed up at all. But your experience encourages me that God is at work in my own heart during this season. And He knows my heart needs the maturity, wisdom, peace and grace that He gives!