What Is Ministry
Shane M. Oberlin

Shane M. Oberlin

Ministry is a very interesting word to me. Many people have varying views on what this word means and different opinions on how to put it into practice. Some look at ministry as only the five-fold ministry gifts detailed in Ephesians 4:11 (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher).  Some see ministry as a goal to be reached, either through hard work or sheer determination that will eventually result in recognition for their cause.

Others view ministry as an elusive dream, something that they aspire to but see as too big for them to accomplish alone, and therefore is (in their mind) impossible. Then there are some who view a ministry as a platform, a pedestal that they wish to ascend to in order to find significance and build their self-esteem, their public image or sometimes just their ego.

As Christ-Followers, we are experts at distorting the truth of scripture and reforming it into our own, fallen image. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “Ministry” as: “Ecclesiastical function; agency or service of a minister of the gospel or clergyman in the modern church, or of priests, apostles and evangelists in the ancient world (and in our world today)” (Parenthesis added for clarification) I believe that this paints only a small part of the picture. This definition speaks to me about one of many potential outpourings of ministry. The Apostle Paul clearly states in I Corinthians 12:4-5 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” (NASB)

I used to believe that a ministry was something that was just for special people, like my pastor or the missionaries that dressed in funny clothes who would visit my church as a child. I have come to realize though, that these things do paint a picture of what ministry is; but not a complete one. I saw that “ministry” should be an outflow (and an overflow) of what God is showing you in your personal, intimate journey with Him. It’s really that simple. Whatever you are doing in your everyday life that is glorifying God and drawing others to Him, I believe is ministry.

Put simply, MINISTRY IS YOUR LIFE!  Right now! Not after you have already built a church, copyrighted the name and have begun building the best youth group in the city, but right now! Who you are, and what you do for others (even when nobody is around to take your picture and post it on Facebook or your flashy new “ministry” blog) Whether it’s Praying with the cashier at Wal-Mart, paying to fill up another person’s gas tank, or simply just being real, open and honest with the people around you about the joy that you have, and Who it comes from; to me that is ministry.

Because if we don’t learn how to transform the culture that we live in now, then why would we expect God to give us a platform to minister from? If you can’t apply God’s principles (e.g. Discipline, Authenticity, Punctuality, Patience and Self-Control) to even just your personal life in the here and now, then you will fail in “ministry”. Yep. I did just say that. Now that you are (hopefully) done burning a hole through the page with your eyes, I will say it a different way. IF YOU LOOK AT MINISTRY AS SOMETHING TO BE ATTAINED, YOU HAVE ALREADY FAILED. Oh, that probably didn’t help very much, did it? Oops.

Here’s an example, if you have not conquered the stronghold of lust in your life, and you have allowed it to run rampant or you have allowed yourself to stop warring against it with everything that is within you, then why would God want to give you a world-renowned ministry that reaches people coming out of the sex trade? What I’m trying to say is if you haven’t cultivated the atmosphere of purity and discipline in your life, then you are much more likely to fall into sin, and take many unsuspecting innocents with you when you do.

My ministry is my life. Plain and simple. If I lose sight of this crucial principle, then I am no longer ministering to anyone or anything but my own selfish interests and filling the earth with more of the same. As a follower of Christ, I am called to so much more than that! I am not merely called to simply exist, or to live a “good, clean life”. I am called to heal the sick, raise the dead, and to cast out devils. I am called to love the unlovable, do the uncomfortable and expect the impossible. I am called to the lifestyle that is… Ministry.

© Conquering Kingdoms – 2013



is a devoted lover of Jesus who seeks to impact the world through writing, the prophetic, counseling, travel, speaking, and song.

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