It was May of 1976. I had just finished two intense years of Naval Flight School, and six months of concentrated training in flying the A-6 Intruder. I had learned how to flight the airplane in all weather conditions, in multi-plane formations, operate around an aircraft carrier and deliver many types of weapons on well defended targets. What was next? Joining my first Fleet Squadron, and doing the job I had been trained for.
Attach Squadron 52, stationed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk was just returning from their final deployment to Southeast Asia. The Vietnam war had ended, and all the P.O. W.’s had returned home. I was assigned to VA-52 as a pilot, and given other duties as the Communications Officer, and Security Manager. Quite honestly, I was not too excited about my “collateral” duties, but as my boss, LCDR Joe Mobley pointed out, there was only one box on my annual fitness report for “airmanship” while there were many other “Officer Qualities” categories that I would be rated on. To be a successful attack pilot meant that I would first have to be first a successful Naval officer.
Most of the next few months were spend learning the business of Naval message procedures and handling classified documents. This had nothing to do with flying, but everything to do with winning battles. Flying the mission in the A-6 Intruder was only one part of the overall strategy for ultimately winning the war. I discovered that Naval Aviators had to be good at multi-tasking and understanding all the aspects of fighting wars from the decks of aircraft carriers. Later I served in the Operations Department, writing flight schedules, and training our pilots, and later in the Maintenance Department as the Quality Assurance officer. Being a Naval Aviator was all about understanding the entire scope of Naval warfare, and becoming proficient in all areas. This was the mark of a successful Naval Aviator. My friend Joe Mobley, who spent five years as a P.O.W. in Hanoi, was this type of officer, mastering all the varied aspects and he rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral before retiring.
In Christianity, the task of the followers of Christ can be equally daunting. We are destined to become multi-tasking individuals, exercising our disciplines and spiritual gifts in the work of the Kingdom.
Disciples love God, and love those around them. They naturally take a message that the world needs to hear, and present it in a number of ways. They involve themselves in many Kingdom oriented activities that can be classified under one word: Ministry.
As a new believer, I found myself involved in these “activities”. It all started that first Sunday at Hope Chapel when I began helping fold chairs after the Sunday morning service. I had not yet made a commitment to Christ yet, but I understood the concept of “teamwork”. Within a few weeks, I had that personal conversation with Jesus, and dedicated my life to Him. Soon I was assisting in passing out the Sunday bulletins and helping people find seating. Next I was asked to help with a children’s church class. In a few months, I had one of my own. Since I played guitar, I was asked to help lead worship at a Bible study. Soon I was teaching that Bible study. Along the way, there were many “community help” days where we cleaned up Kalama Park in Kihei. Other days we helped paint some homes, and clean up people’s yards. It was all “ministry” or what Ephesians 4:12 calls “works of service”.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:11-13
Ministry is what disciples do. They involve themselves in works of service for the Kingdom. According to the Bible, these works of service cause the church to grow, and individuals to grow spiritually. A disciple who is not involved in ministry is missing out on one of the most dynamic elements of Christianity.
Not only is it the way others are brought into the Kingdom, it is the most significant path to our own spiritual maturity.
has given specially gifted individuals called apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to train, encourage, inspire, and lead other Christians in works of service in their community so that the Body of Christ will be built up numerically and spiritually. This “building up” leads to maturity and spiritual growth on the part of every believer.
Think of anytime you have involved yourself in serving others. The first time I helped fold chairs, I became a part of the Hope Chapel ministry. When I was pressed into assisting in a children’s church class, my compassion for kids grew rather rapidly. The first time I helped paint a single mom’s home, I became more aware of the struggles of single parents, and what I could do to help. Then I was asked to visit the home of a terminally ill brother and pray with him. That brought reality to life, and I walked out of that house a changed man. God uses selfless acts of service to break us out of our self-centered worlds, and show us His Heart. This is what ministry is all about- feeling and expressing God’s heart.
What actually is ministry? How do we do it? Where do we do it? How do we prepare ourselves for it? What’s required for ministry? These questions can be answered through many paradigms and systematic approaches. Our ideas of ministry are shaped by our Christian experience. Often we confine our methods to those we are familiar with – “We have always done it this way.” Sometimes these approaches are limited in scope and the resulting fruit, because of our own cultural prejudices and denominational histories. Historian George Santayana once said that those who forget history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. Let’s take this concept a step further: We believe that those who are aware of Christian history have the opportunity to take advantage of proven methods and techniques of the Holy Spirit, and His followers.
Thus, it is helpful to look at the philosophy of ministry of some of the most successful ministers in Christian history- those in the first three centuries. Why this particular group?
The growth of the Early Church was nothing short of phenomenal! In less than three centuries, a small obscure movement with no “religious” structure headed by 11 impoverished and lightly educated men spread to become the official religion of the Roman Empire and established local congregations in the far corners of Africa, Asia, and Europe.
How did they do it? Those first missionaries had a few things working in their favor. First there was a Roman system of roads that made travel possible. Built for the marching legionaries, these roads were “built to last forever” and linked the provinces of the Empire together. When I was a child, the road from my home in Yalova Turkey along the coast of the Sea of Marmara to my school on the U.S. Air Force base at Karamursel was literally the 2000 year-old Roman road with a layer of modern asphalt on top. A few years ago, we walked along the Via Ignatia in Northeastern Greece- the very same road that Paul used in his travels! With these roads, you could actually plan a trip and get there and the peace enforced by the Roman legions allowed for generally safe travel. They began their ministry in Israel – Palestina, which was the land bridge of three continents. They could literally walk to China, India, Spain, Nigeria, and Russia. Thanks to Alexander the Great’s conquest three hundred years earlier, Greek was a common language spoken in all parts of the Empire. In addition, there was even a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures- the Septuagint. All these factors provided a favorable environment where the Gospel could be communicated across the Empire.
But more important was their philosophy of ministry.
- They were strongly motivated by their experience with the crucified and risen Christ;
- They understood the eternal stakes of their mission;
- They realized what preparation was required to effectively spread the message;
- They knew what they needed to accomplish the work;
- They had a distinct attitude of service and they understanding the cost;
- They leaned heavily on the Holy Spirit; and finally,
- They possessed a simply formula for ministry.
Our modern methods often ignore the experience of the Early Church. Our ideas of preparation tend to be more “formal”, we are more organized in our operation, our motivations focus on needs and personal desires, and reliance is often more on man’s planning and fundraising abilities than anything else. Yet Jesus declared to his disciples while at Caesarea Philippi: “I will build my Church” (Matthew 16) and He told them that upon receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, they would begin the Jesus Christ Remote Corners of the World Evangelism Movement (Acts 1:8). These first disciples had a strong personal relationship with the risen Lord and a sensitive ear to the Holy Spirit. They counted on God’s plan and power. Through them, Jesus did build His Church in a phenomenal manner.
One of the first questions that I usually ask a team that arrives in Nicaragua to work with us is “Why did you come?” Usually the response hits a few areas: “I felt like I could be used”; “I saw a great need”; I felt like I could learn something from this experience”, are typical responses. All of these are good reasons to go on a missions trip, but underlying all of these is perhaps the most profound and important reason we do anything for the Kingdom, be it folding chairs after service or dedicating our lives to live among an unreached people group.
Isaiah had an experience with God that is described in the sixth chapter of his book.
In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. In a great chorus they sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke.
Then I said, “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!”
Then one of the seraphim flew over to the altar, and he picked up a burning coal with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?”
And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.” Isaiah 6:1-8
Isaiah saw God in all his glory, and that made him despair, realizing his own sinfulness. It is a common reaction when we enter the presence of the Lord. Experiencing God’s holiness reveals our own sinfulness. Yet at this moment of despair, God did something very special. The angel brought a coal from the altar, touched it to Isaiah’s lips, and declared him a righteous man, whose sin’s had been forgiven. Imagine the joy that exploded in Isaiah’s heart. Receiving forgiveness of sin, eternal life, spiritual empowerment, and all the fruits of the Spirit is something to jump and shout about! So when God asked for a volunteer to take a message, Isaiah very naturally volunteered, knowing what God had just done for him.
Gratitude is a powerful motivation. Knowing God, and realizing what He has done for us is perhaps the most profound reason for involving yourself in ministry.
The first disciples had this gratitude. They witnessed what Jesus did on the cross for them. They received with His sacrifice with a life changing thankfulness, and responded by totally giving their lives for Him. One life totally dedicated to God is a powerful force in this world. Christian history records the effect of lives totally dedicated to God, and how individuals changed their world. Francis of Assisi, Ludwig von Zinzindorf, John Wesley, Billy Graham, John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Bill Bright and Truman Cunningham are only a few examples of men and women who so appreciated what Christ did for them on the cross, that they devoted their lives to Him, and in the process literally changed their world.
We need to have this concept when the bugs and insults get thick; when the personal and spiritual attacks come; and when discouragement and discomfort abound. We need this as the underlying reason why we are following the King in His assigned works of service. Our other motivations for our ministry may wane, yet this is the one constant: Who God is and what He has done for us!
If this is the reason for our involvement in ministry, then we come to the next obvious question: Why does God want us participating in these “works of service”? Does He really need us? Is God so limited in His power and authority that He must use the likes of me to help Him reach the Miskito Indians in Nicaragua? Obviously God could show up on the Rio Coco, snap His celestial fingers, and all the children on the Lower Rio Coco would be able to read and write. Jesus could walk down the river (in the middle), speak some amazing words, do a few amazing things, and all would see Him, and worship Him. But for some reason He doesn’t do that, but instead chooses to use us collectively to educate the children and bring the message of the Gospel. This may be a frightening concept! After all, would you rely on yourself to accomplish the most important mission in humanity? Probably not, but God does. I think that this is a clue to the real reason why He wants us involved in ministry. Let’s step back in time for some help in understanding.
Communion (or the Lord’s Supper) is a special time for all Christians. Jesus’ final celebration of the Passover with His disciples (with unleavened bread and wine) was rich with symbols of God’s grace and favor to mankind. But there is more to the story.
When a young Hebrew man decided to marry the girl of his dreams, the first person he went to was her father. He usually began his discussion by saying something like this: “Jacob, I was in the field with my flock the other day when your daughter walked by. She is so ugly that my sheep ran away and it took me three days to find them all”.
To which the father replied: “You are mistaken my son, my daughter is a beautiful girl.” Thus began the negotiations for the dowry, the price of the bride. After they had decided how many sheep, goats, barrels of oil and bushels of wheat she was worth, the girl was called in, and the plan revealed. Wine and bread were brought to the table. The young lady gave bread to the young man, and the cup of wine. Without any words, the young man drank from the cup, and passed it to her. In his cultural way, he was saying, “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you be my bride?”
The young Hebrew maiden knew what the cup of wine gesture meant, and if she took the cup and drank from it, she was culturally saying, “Yes, I accept your proposal of marriage”.
In our culture, we make a different gesture. I remember the day in April 1987 when I asked Laura to marry me. It was at a beach café in La Ceiba Honduras, there was hot muggy air and loud blaring music (the song “Push It”). I dropped to my knee, took her hand, looked deeply into her eyes, and said “Laura, will you be my wife?” (It was one of the best moves that I ever made!). She laughed and replied “Yes of course!”
At the Last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus took break, broke it, ate, and passed it around the table. He took a cup of wine, drank, and shared with his disciples. Along with His symbolism of the bread being his broken body, and the wine being his blood spilled out for the covenant between God and his People, his disciples saw something that reminded them of the marriage proposal. They understood that along with the sacrifice on the cross, Jesus was inviting them into an intimate relationship with them, along the lines of the most intimate relationship that they knew, marriage. They even later began referring to themselves as the “Bride of Christ”.
God is calling us into an intimate relationship with Him. Ministry is when we get to do things with Him, and in the process, we see Him more, and get to know Him better.
Think of the times when we find ourselves working with a stranger on a job. Usually through the work, you get to know your co-worker. After days and weeks of working together, a solid relationship is formed. At least that is what happens to me on a job.
When we do the work of the Kingdom, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and we let Jesus build His Kingdom by using us, we have more and more experiences with Him as we work “Together, Making Disciples”. I have had moments when I have been asked to teach, and suddenly something is coming forth from me that I didn’t prepare, which is touching the listeners much more than my original lesson. That is Jesus showing up. It is an astonishing experience.
Once, a girl came to me down river in Sawa, with a huge machete wound on her forearm. We were hours away from the nearest clinic, and I didn’t have any sutures. Instead, I took duct tape, and made some butterfly bandages, pulled the wound together, applied some antibiotic ointment, and wrapped her arm in tape. I asked Jesus to touch her, knowing that she could get an infection that could be very serious. I told her to come back the next day. She didn’t, nor on the following day. I finally went looking for her on the third, and found her. The tape was hanging loosely on her arm. When I took it off, I saw that the wound had completely closed, and there was no infection. Jesus definitely showed up and touched her!
Many times we have had broken down outboard motors, miles from the nearest mechanic. After cleaning plugs, gas lines, and all our other tricks, we pray, asking Jesus to make the motor run. Usually after a few more pulls, the engines fires, and soon we are praising the Lord as we fly down the river. There are so many times that Jesus has shown up in our ministry, that we come to expect His presence. In fact, we realize that without Him, we will accomplish nothing. Our ministry with the Miskitos, in Israel, and across the United States has been simply opportunities for us to spend time with Jesus, working with Him. In the process, we have gotten to know and appreciate Him for who He is!
In the Middle East today, there are arranged marriages. The prospective groom and bride never met until the wedding. The bride arrives at the ceremony wearing a veil, usually made from coins wired together (her dowry). The first time they actually see each other is after they are declared husband and wife. Remember the story of Jacob, who fell in love with Rachel, but was deceived by her father Laban and discovered too late that he had married her older sister Leah instead! I wonder how many Christians will show up at the “Marriage Ceremony for the Lamb” (Rev.9:19), as unknown to the Groom as those veiled Middle Easterner brides.
The desire to do ministry is in the heart of every true believer and our Lord has chosen us to work with Him. With these two principles, there are a few obvious questions to ask that will help us become more effective in our roles in the Kingdom.
The first might be:
“How do we prepare ourselves for ministry?”
Many of us have this experience: We are sitting in a church service, and or under a tree at the beach, and thoughts begin to fill our minds about the needs we see around us, and a desire grows within us to do something to meet that need. Most of us grew up in a religious environment where the “church staff” did most of the work with the help of a few volunteers. My friend Dave once joked when I asked him if he was regularly reading his Bible: “Bags, I pay a priest to do that for me.” He was being funny, but there is an attitude that “ministers” are those “professional” people who went to Bible school and are on the staff of our churches. We even have words that define this division in the Body of Christ: Clergy and Laity. Visit many churches in Europe built in the middle ages, and notice that there is even a “fence” (sometimes with a gate) separating the altar area where the priests work, and the seating (or standing) area of the church where the people watch and participate on a very limited basis. Indeed, our architecture reflects this separation of those professionals who minister, and those of us who just watch. For many, Christianity is still a spectator event.
Yet a reading of the Bible suggests a completely different story. If you study the Book of Acts, and the Epistles, you will notice three prominent words: “Apostolos”, “Presbuteros”, and “Adelphos”, designating people who were doing the work of the church. Jesus send forth His “Apostles”, who brought the message, established churches, and appointed the “Elders”, who oversaw the work of the “Brothers and Sisters”- the “Saints”– in each local congregation. It was a simple structure that included all members of the Body of Christ in the ministry of the Church. It seems that ministry was a team effort, involving new believers as well as the older, mature disciples.
Since there were no ministry training schools or Bible colleges at that time (aside from the traditional Jewish rabbinical schools), how were these Apostolos, Presbuteros, andAdelphos trained for their work in the Kingdom? Acts 4:13-14 provides us with an answer. The scene is the Temple in Jerusalem, and Peter has just performed a miracle. On their way up through the “Beautiful Gate”, they encountered a beggar who had been born lame. Invoking Jesus’ name, Peter seized the man’s hand, and raised him up, and the beggar was immediately healed, and able to walk for the first time in his life. This miracle caused people to quickly gather, and Peter and John began to proclaim the Gospel. Soon, the Temple guards arrived and hauled them both off to jail, where they spent the night. The next day they were brought before the religious rulers of Israel, the Sanhedrin, to explain how they had healed this lame man. Peter boldly began to tell them about Jesus’ power to heal and save. Luke records:
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14But since the man who had been healed was standing right there among them, the council had nothing to say. Acts 4:13-14
There are two observations here of note. First, Peter and John are described as “ordinary men”. The Greek word used here is “idiotes”. We get another word in English from this Greek word: Idiot.
In the Greek, “Idiotes” simply means “unskilled, or “uninstructed”, and has nothing to do with a lack in natural capacity, as it does in our language. Still, a point is made: Peter and John were Galilean fishermen who were not professionally trained according to the Jewish traditions, like all the members of the Sanhedrin who had spent their lives studying the Scripture and working at the Temple. Yet these “ordinary” men had performed a miracle which none of the council had ever managed. There is an important principle here: God loves to use ordinary people to accomplish miracles. Why? Because when God’s “idiotes” do amazing things, people naturally conclude that they must be connected to a Power much greater than themselves.
The Sanhedrin observed that these Galilean fishermen were “men who had been with Jesus”. Another important principle: Spending time with Jesus is the greatest preparation for ministry that we can have.
How do we spend time with Jesus? We do it when we pause to pray in those private moments. We encounter Him when we open His Word, and fill our minds with His wisdom. We spend time with Him when we gather to worship. During trials and tribulations, our need for Him in evident, and in that need, He shows up with comfort and peace. In our service to His people, we are working with Him. When we meet with our “Adelphos”, our common bond is His Holy Spirit. Fellowshipping with our Christian brothers and sisters can be a very real experience with our common Lord.
Another questions as we consider our roles in the Kingdom might be:
“What do we need to do the ministry that God has called us to?”
In our primary school project along the Rio Coco, we could begin our list of needs with money, skilled teachers and administrators, reliable outboard motors, and many gallons of gasoline. That is our natural thinking. Actually when we began this project in 1986, we had none of those. However, apparently we had the two things that the Bible says we need to do ministry.
In Biblical history, there was a time when the refugees came back from Babylon to reconstruct the Temple in Jerusalem. One of the leaders of this project was a priest named Jeshua. For the Temple to be rebuilt, they needed wood, stone, and other building materials, along with food and pay for the workers, military protection, and skilled artisans. However, God gave Jeshua something even greater.
Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. Satan was there at the angel’s right hand, accusing Jeshua of many things. And the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from a fire.”
Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.”
Then I said, “Please, could he also have a clean turban on his head?” So they put a clean priestly turban on his head and dressed him in new clothes while the angel of the Lord stood by.
Then the angel of the Lord spoke very solemnly to Jeshua and said, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: If you follow my ways and obey my requirements, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk in and out of my presence along with these others standing here.
Jeshua was given the two things which would guarantee the success of his ministry: Authority from God to do the job, and Access into God’s presence for direction. These are the two required elements for success in ministry: Authority and Access.
Authority is what a policeman directs traffic with. He has a badge given to him by the government that makes disobeying him a crime. Although he physically cannot force an eighteen-wheeler truck to stop or turn, his authority can, and usually does. When God assigns us work, the first thing He gives us is the authority to work in His name and in His power. All else happens because He has given the word.
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said* to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. Matthew 8:5-10
The centurion was used to working under authority. It was only way he could do his job as a soldier. It is also the only way we can operate successfully in the Kingdom- under God’s authority. Only when He gives it does anything of eternal value happen.
Once God give us His authority to do His specific work, He wants us to come into His presence to receive direction. Proverbs 16:9 says:
The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.
Many steps in God’s plan are often not what we would logically think to do. For ten years we flew a Piper Seneca twin-engine aircraft from Florida to Honduras, and used it to support our school project. We never had a budget for this aviation ministry, and logically it didn’t make sense to own such a piece of equipment. Yet is became one of our most valuable assets.
We took our three Miskito Indian leaders from Nicaragua to Israel in 1997. That didn’t really seem like a good use of resources, according to our logic, yet that trip directly resulted in a film that has been shown throughout Miskitia, a relief ministry in Israel from 2000 to 2003, a book on spiritual life, pastoral training conferences in Nicaragua, a Miskito teacher going to school for a year in Jerusalem, six study tours in Israel, Greece, and the Caribbean, and many classes and seminars in the United States.
God’s plans are often far beyond our own. Access to His presence is the only way we will get direction.
Authority from God and Access to Him are the basic necessities for any work of God. Without these two critical elements, we are operating on our own strength and wisdom, and ultimately our efforts will result in little or no fruit.
With proper motivation for ministry and understanding the ultimate purpose of ministry, we can proceed with the preparation and actual accomplishing of the things God has called us to. But how do we proceed?
What should our attitude be for this life of service?
Paul was very specific to his disciple Timothy:
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2:1-7
Paul utilizes three illustrations of lifestyles to his young friend and ministry partner. First he uses the soldier: one who must risk his life on a daily basis, and endure hardship of long marches, living outside in hostile environments, and facing danger on a regular basis. Soldiers were dedicated to their life of service. They were under strict discipline, and punishment for any breach in orders during wartime could be instant death. The focus of a successful warrior must be intense, not allowing any distractions to take his eye and mind off the objective. Ministers must also have their objectives firmly in mind, and be wiling to endure personal discomfort, as well as laying their own agendas aside.
Next, he brings the athlete to center stage. In the ancient world, men trained for ten months for the annual empire-wide games. They competed in various running, jumping, throwing, and wrestling events, each of which had their own particular set of rules. The ultimate tragedy for each of these athletes was to be disqualified after months of training, on a rules violation. Hours upon hours of training would result in nothing!
Ministers understand God’s priorities for their lives. They understand God principles for holy living. They know that it is all about the simple formula of Loving God with all or hearts, souls, and minds, and Loving Those He has places around us. When we violate God’s rules for His Kingdom, our fruit will diminish, and eventually if we continue in a lifestyle that is not in accordance with God’s desires for our lives, we will be disqualified from the privilege of participating with God in building His Kingdom.
Finally, Paul uses the farmer as the ultimate illustration of the attitude of faith and diligence that ministers must possess. Farmers of ancient time did not understand the seed germination process like most high school biology students do now. Even with that knowledge, farming is still an adventure in faith that God will allow the seeds to grow, provide the proper irrigation at just the right time, and allow for a good season of harvest. When it all happens properly, the farmer rejoices, and is the first to eat the fruit of his fields. If the flood comes at the wrong time, or storms during the harvest, the farmer as well as the entire community suffers.
Ministers enjoy seeing the lives of those who are brought into the Kingdom through their efforts. It is all about relationships! Through these relationships, God uses various members of the Body to support many of those who are doing specific works of the ministry. We each have our part to play. To some God has given the ability to acquire resources for the work of the Kingdom. They are simply “funnels” that God uses to pour financial and material resources through to others whom He has given assignments in various ministry projects. It is a great Kingdom concept:
“Together, Making Disciples!”