November 14, 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 have seen in recent Life for Leaders devotions, if you are a Christian, then you are a minister of Jesus Christ. No, you won’t go immediately on your church’s payroll. The vast majority of ministers of Christ don’t work in church jobs. Your ministry, which includes your service as a member of a church, is much broader than this. It includes your whole life as you offer yourself to God for his purposes.
Yet, your ministry is even broader than this. That’s because your ministry is also our ministry. When Ephesians 4:11-12 is viewed through the lens of American individualism, we can miss this truth. But it’s there quite plainly in the text. Again, your ministry is our ministry.
This truth is implied in verse 12, where pastoral leaders are to equip the saints (all of God’s people) for the work of ministry. The language here envisions church leaders working together to equip church members for their common ministry.
What follows in verses 12 and 13 underscores this view of common ministry: “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.” The result of our ministry is the building up of the body, the church. The growth of the body is not only a matter of larger size, but also of deeper unity. The maturity envisioned in verse 13 is corporate, the maturity of the church as it becomes more and more like Christ.
So, let’s work out the implications of what we’re seeing in Ephesians 4. Each one of us is a minister of Christ. Each one of us has our particular ministry, our place of service in the church, our opportunity for service in the world. Our ministry happens right where we are. Yet if you envision your ministry as separate from the ministry of your Christian community, then you miss the stirring vision of this passage. You are a minister of Christ in fellowship and collaboration with his other ministers. You are not alone as you seek to serve Christ in your church, family, school, store, and office. You are part of a ministry family, a team that plays together, a body that is designed so all parts work in concert to do the ministry of Christ.
Too often, Christians try to serve Christ all by themselves. Their isolation from other believers not only falls short of the biblical vision but also almost always fails. If you try to be a minister of Christ by yourself, it won’t work. If you share in his ministry with your co-ministers, then your efforts will bear fruit as God’s Spirit works through the ministering community.
Something to Think About:
Do you tend to think of your ministry in individual terms, or as a part of a ministering community?
How might the biblical vision of corporate ministry change the way you think, feel, and act?
Something to Do:
If you are seeking to be a minister of Christ in your workplace, find at least one other person who can support you in this effort. This person may be a work colleague, or perhaps a friend from church. Allow yourself to experience the fact that your ministry is our ministry.
Gracious God, thank you for the privilege of being one of your ministers. Thank you for giving me gifts and talents that I might devote to your service. Thank you for opportunities to serve people in your name and for your purposes.
Yet, Lord, even as I thank you for these gifts, I recognize my tendency to go at it alone. I can so easily think in terms of “my ministry,” rather than “our ministry.” Forgive me for seeing myself so individualistically. Help me to think of myself as part of your community of ministers. Teach me to rely on others, to share in ministry with them, both in giving and in receiving. May your work in this world through me be strengthened because I am collaborating with my fellow ministers as we strive together to serve you. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Body of Christ (Matthew 26)
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.