Keeping Up in Ministry
We have bred in our culture the idea that we always have to “keep up” in ministry. We must follow the latest trends, buy the newest lights, and constantly add programs in order to keep up with everyone else around us. We spend our resources in an effort to keep in step with everyone else and make sure we are up-to-date as the people of God.
For some reason, I felt the need to start reading Daniel again this week. And God showed me something I had never seen before in the first chapter. This finding was not necessarily convicting to me, because I already held these convictions. However, it did reaffirm my convictions and the direction God is leading me in these thoughts.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[a] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. – Daniel 1:8-17
In this passage we find four men who, according to all logical, reasonable, and scientific evidence, should have been eating what the others were eating. Everything we know about food today says that the other men should have been stronger and healthier. However, Daniel and his friends knew that the healthiest of all lifestyles was serving the Lord wholeheartedly and trusting in Him no matter what everyone else was doing.
Today, we are bombarded with Christian studies and statistics about what it takes to keep up with those around us. How do we need to set up the lights? What new i-something do we need? How are all the big churches setting up their stages and chairs? What should we do to capitalize on the trending topics in our sermon series?
Have we ever stopped to ask ourselves what might happen if we abandon that sort of attitude and ran with the attitude that we are going to completely abandon ourselves to the Lord and depend on Him? This is the key to growth in the church. The answer is not in lights, stages, trends, or studies. The study that is vital is the study of God’s Holy Word.
Unfortunately, we often say that we want to depend on the Lord, but we are not truly willing to go against what everyone else is saying and doing and actually put ourselves out there. This type of lifestyle means taking on ridicule, criticism, and maybe burning a few bridges on the way, but you will be on your way to a life that is exemplified by Daniel and his friends, Paul and the disciples, and countless sacrificial heroes throughout the history of the church. What better life could there be?
Commanded and Called,