Business Versus Ministry

Most of the time I am perfectly content to sit in my office and write my little heart out.  Fiction, non-fiction, devotionals--it doesn't matter.  As long as the Lord is in it, I want to write it.  I love the process of writing.  While it is hard work that demands an enormous amount of concentration, it is also relaxing for me.  It is an outlet through which I can vent my joys and frustrations, my dreams and my failures, my creativity and my drawbacks.  To have the privilege of calling that process my "job" is outstanding. . . most of the time.

You see, when I start thinking of my writing as a job, discontentment begins to grow.  A job provides an income.  A business produces customers.  My last "paycheck" was in the amount of 50 cents and the one before that was even less.  (And no, I'm not making that up!)  As for customers, sure, I sell a few books here and there, typically when a new product comes out.  But otherwise, I can assure you that buyers are not knocking down my door.

With the discontentment growing by leaps and bounds, I fall back into my default way of thinking--how can I fix this?  My mind scurries about, plotting and scheming about new promotional methods and how to better schedule my time so that I can devote more of it to marketing.  After all, if people don't know about my products, they can't know to buy them, right?  It makes sense to me.  It seems like a logical train of thought, yet all the while, something within me is extremely unsettled.  It's as if an alarm is going off inside my brain, but with all the hustle and bustle of creating my new plan, I don't have the time to pay it any attention.

I'm happy to say that I must be getting better because when that same discouragement set in this morning, I caught it before I had time to create my master plan to change my life.  The Lord allowed me to notice that alarm, and when I did, I stopped my thoughts in their tracks and reminded myself, "No, I'm not going to do that.  I'm not even going to start down that road because I know it will only lead to more frustration and discouragement when things don't work out the way I plan.  Besides, I know what God wants me to do, and this is not it.  In order to bring about my own plan, I have to disregard the plan of my Heavenly Father.  Am I willing to do this?"

Absolutely not!  I don't want to forsake God's plan for my life.  The truth is that I'm easily swayed by testimonials of the little-known author who went from making 50 cents a month to $50,000 each month.  I'm attracted to the e-mails that flood my inbox--e-mails promising to make me more money with less work.  I'm mesmerized by the possibility of Jason being able to stay home or work a part-time job because my "job" takes care of all our financial responsibilities.  But the fact of the matter is that I don't have a job; I have a ministry.

A ministry doesn't necessarily make money.  A ministry doesn't typically gain customers.  A ministry doesn't provoke popularity or fame.  The word "ministry" comes from the Greek word, diakoneo, which means "to serve."  So, a ministry is a service, nothing more.  There are no guarantees of wealth or success.  There are no promises that the work will be noticed or appreciated.  But that does not make the service any less valuable in the eyes of the Lord.  No one else may notice your service, but I guarantee you He does.  There may not be much in the way of monetary compensation, but the Lord has other ways of rewarding His faithful servants.

When I keep these things in mind, I'm much less likely to become discouraged or overwhelmed with the feelings that I need to "help God help me."  When I realize that I don't have a job but a ministry, I stop mourning over the pitiful paychecks and start looking for more ways to serve.

I don't know what kind of service or ministry you're in today, but I'm here to remind you that any work done for the Lord is precious.  It doesn't matter if no one else sees or appreciates what you do.  It only matters that you are faithful in the work to which the Lord has called you.  I know it's difficult, and I understand that sometimes the rewards just don't seem worth it.  But we must remember that most of our rewards are on hold.  We will receive them when we finally make it Home.  And until then, we have to trust that the Father is paying attention and keeping track of our faithful service.  It helps to remind ourselves daily that this is not a job; it's a ministry.  Not a business, but a service.  Then, all that's left is to serve to the best of our ability and leave the results in God's hands.  He won't let us down!

 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. - John 12:26