I remember not too long ago I was reading in the book of II Corinthians, and I came to the part in chapter four where Paul said, “…always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” After reading these words, I thought to myself, “Now there’s the heart of ministry.”
There is much talk today concerning the validity of the pastoral ministry model and the need to employ the five-fold ministry paradigm found in Ephesians 4, but I don’t think the answer is quite that simple. I think we have lost the true heart of ministry all together. We’ve made ministry all about the minister. Ephesians 4 tells us that ministers are given to the body of Christ for the equipping of the saints, and the building up of the body of Christ. Our churches abound with self proclaimed super-prophets, apostolic rulers, and double portion Davidic worship leaders who have made it all about them. We don’t need superstars; we need servants.
The body of Christ needs ministers who are experiencing the fellowship of his sufferings, manifesting the dying of Jesus in their bodies, those who are willing to become of no reputation, and give themselves for the life of body of Christ. Ministers are not called to be movie star, super-hero, peddlers of the gospel, but slaves of their Master Jesus who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. The true heart of ministry says, “I will gladly be poured out and used up that I might help my brother’s and sisters mature in Christ.” The prophet, apostle, evangelist, pastor, and teacher are called to build ministers not ministries.
I Corinthians 4:9-13 puts it like this, “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” Let me ask you, does that sound like any ministers you know? Perhaps the body of Christ would experience more of the power of Christ’s resurrection if its ministers would participate in the fellowship of His sufferings.
I’ll sum it up by simply saying that if you want to see the heart of ministry, just look at the cross.