November 26, 2018 • Life for Leaders
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
As you may recall, before we took a week to focus on gratitude, we were working our way slowly through Ephesians 4. This passage explains Christian ministry, including the stunning truth that all Christians are ministers of Jesus Christ. Pastors and other church leaders aren’t “the ministers,” but rather the player coaches of Christ’s ministry team.
If you and I are ministers of Christ, we might wonder why. What is the purpose of Christian ministry? More to the point, what is the purpose of your ministry?
There are many different possible answers to these questions. A pastor might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to grow my church.” A deacon might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to care for people in need.” A non-profit leader might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to fight human trafficking.” A banker might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to be a faithful and just steward of the financial resources entrusted to me.” A parent might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to help my children grow up to maturity as Christians and as contributing members of society.”
All of these are fine answers. But they don’t identify the larger, deeper purpose of our work as ministers of Jesus Christ. Consider, for example, the purpose statement of Ephesians 4:11-13. This passage begins with Christ giving gifts of pastoral leaders to the church (4:7, 11). These leaders are to equip Christ’s people for ministry (4:12). Then we have an extensive and complicated purpose statement: “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:12-13).
This passage deserves careful scrutiny, which I will provide in future devotions. For today, however, I want to step back and see the wider purpose of Christian ministry. This purpose includes: the building up of the body of Christ, which entails its unity and maturity. Notice that this purpose probably implies the numerical growth of the church, but it does not focus there. Rather, the building up of the body of Christ has to do primarily with its unity and maturity.
We’ll investigate further what this means. For now, however, I’d encourage you to think about your own life in relationship to the church as you consider the following questions.
Something to Think About:
Are your labors contributing to the unity of your church?
Are you helping your church become more mature?
How does ministry, in the church and in the world, make a difference to the life of your church?
Something to Do:
As you go about your work today, ask the Lord to show you how what you do is connected to his kingdom purposes. If you can, jot down what you learn so you can reflect on it later and share it with your small group or a Christian friend.
Gracious God, help me to see my ministry to you and to others as you see it. Help me to participate in your redeeming and restoring work. Give me vision to look beyond the tasks at hand, so that I might see how they fit into your larger plan. As your Spirit leads, may my labors as your minister contribute to your purpose. May I help your body, including the part of your body that forms my own church, to be growing into unity and maturity. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The Spiritual Unity of the Church
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
I have enjoyed the devotions on the Ephesians, especially today’s in how you clarify the wider purpose of Christian ministry. This puts my little part of work in good perspective. Thank you!
Thanks, Shi-Min, for your encouragement. So glad Life for Leaders is helpful to you!