Ephesians 4 says Jesus “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, so that we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.”
As I read this text I think of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers and I realize what they (pastors and church leaders) are supposed to do is equip the body to do the work. The pastors and church leaders probably ought to think of themselves as the ligaments, doing the supporting as the body builds itself up and each learns to do his or her part.
Searching the gospels shows Jesus doing exactly that. Jesus said I have come not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
Church leaders, have you ever found yourself saying, “We need to get someone to volunteer to …?” I wonder what difference it would make if we stopped looking for someone to volunteer, and started thinking about equipping people to serve.
Generally, a volunteer will do what needs to be done, if no one else will, and a good volunteer will fulfill the task to the letter of the law. A person with a servant heart doesn’t wait to be asked, they just see the need and do it because it needs to be done, and they do more than just phone it in, surpassing the requirements and getting to the heart of the matter.
A volunteer often counts the days until their time of service is over. A servant counts each day a blessing and seeks opportunities to invest in someone who will take over when their time is complete.
A volunteer talks a lot about the hardships and the cost of their task, and wants to receive credit for what they are doing. A servant understands that the Master gets the credit and the glory for all that might be accomplished, counting it all joy, seeing the growth opportunities in the struggles, and relying more and more on the grace of God.
Let’s stop asking for volunteers. Let’s begin to do the greater work, the more difficult work, of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. It’s not easy, but by God’s grace in the power of the Spirit by the example of the Son, we can!
Where is there a need? What can you do to meet the need, or to help someone else meet the need?
What passion burns in your spirit? What have you experienced in your life that nearly brings you to tears every time you remember it? How does God want to use you today?
We are the body of Christ. And to each of us is given unique gifts. Only when we come together with a unified purpose – only when we are empowered by the breath of God’s Spirit – only then will God’s kingdom be established on earth, as it is in heaven.
We are the body of Christ. I will do my very best to be a good and strong ligament to support growth as we come together bone to bone; as tendons and flesh appear, and skin comes to cover us and prepare us to receive the breath of God which empowers our mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Peace, Pastor LuAnn