the work of the Holy Spirit

Your ministry matters. Do not kid yourself– what you do makes a difference.

In this age of mega stars and internet sensations, it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd.

It’s easy to believe your little old life doesn’t reach a million people on YouTube each day, so probably you don’t matter. When you’re typing away in a tiny office or teaching a small class or wiping wee noses, your impact on the world seems limited at best. Microscopic, possibly.

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

Let’s be honest– there are billions of people on the planet right now, so we’re all a little bit insignificant in that global, historical, long-range view of the world. This is totally true and should keep our perspectives a little humble.

Humility is good for our souls, but blindly disregarding our gifts and impact is another. I’m quite guilty of this. I’m slowly, slowly learning about how important the small things really are in the scope of my family, small group, and community.

It’s not the big, important people who really pour blessing into your life, is it? Does your favorite actor/blogger/YouTuber/politician show up at your breakfast table each morning and help you set your day right?

I’m willing to bet they don’t. The people who bless you the most are the ones who show up day after day after day and trudge through life right next to you.

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

It’s the spouse who’s up in the middle of the night with you while you both scrub vomit out of the carpet.

It’s the friend who will take your children at a moment’s notice so you can get to an appointment.

It’s the coworker who hands you a mug of coffee so you don’t murder your 10am appointment with the sharp letter opener you keep on the desk as a weapon in case a crazy person breaks into the building.

(Wow, that got a little dark. I’m sorry. But I have this really scary letter opener on my desk and that’s where I got the idea…)

If their love and blessing in your life makes a huge difference to you, what makes you think your efforts don’t matter to anyone?

Your ministry matters. You matter. What you do each day makes all the difference to someone.

Maybe that someone is only a few months old and recognizes you only as comfort, warm milk, and a clean butt. Those days are so hard, but you’re building a foundation of trust and love that will never be undone. Your child will go out into the world ready to love and care for others, and that is no small feat. Doubt me? Ask anyone who was raised by a neglectful, abusive parent and see how much damage selfishness does.

You’re fighting a tidal wave of pain and loss, every time you drag yourself out of bed for a 3am feeding.

Maybe your loved one has been next to you for more than fifty years, but now has trouble recognizing your face. Your care matters. Your love resounds through the walls of your home, into your church, and is a living witness of Christ’s love to a younger generation who is watching you carefully. You’re showing us how to love, even when that love is forgotten five seconds later. You show us over and over again.

You’re fighting a tidal wave of cultural selfishness with every act of service. We are so thankful.

Photo by Nathália Bariani on Unsplash

Ministry comes in so many different forms.

All these deep thoughts have been stewing in my brain for the last few months as I ponder what it means to be a writer in this current environment. It’s easy for efforts to be evaluated by a number of views to my website or “likes” to my posts. But what I can’t see is the Holy Spirit’s work after I’ve finished typing. What do those words mean in your life?

I don’t know. It’s not really my place to know, honestly. It’s my responsibility to use my gifts to care for the Body of Christ. I’m called to encourage and minister, and whether that’s to 100 people or 10,000 is not for me to decide.

Besides, if only one person’s heart is nudged closer to God today, it doesn’t mean that one individual can’t go out and minister to thousands. The ripple effect is alive and well, and the stone never gets to see that last wave.

Two questions to ask yourself:

I was listening to a brilliant podcast recently (The Road Back to You, which is also a fantastic book on the enneagram personality profile system), and Suzanne Stebile asked a guest these two questions:

  • What does it mean to take yourself seriously?
  • What does it mean to take your contribution to the world seriously?


Do you have an answer for those questions? I didn’t. But I’m going to keep thinking about it until I work it out.

This is our challenge today– to take our gifts to the world seriously. Small doesn’t mean insignificant. Small might mean concentrated and powerful in our case. Or, small might just be the first ripple in the pond, extending far beyond what we’ll ever see.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:11

 

 

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When God Asks Us To Do Something Very Small (and Very Hard)

Let me sum up the entire Bible for you: God speaks; we need to listen.

Theologians everywhere are groaning and formatting angry letters to me right this minute because that’s a vast understatement of the whole Bible. Six words can’t begin to encapsulate thousands of years of God’s Word to humankind, they’ll say.

And they’re right. But so am I, maybe.

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a terrible time listening to God lately. I pretend to listen, but really I’m really worried about what He’s going to tell me. For example, Monday’s small group lesson was on how to open your life to the Holy Spirit’s work even when it means giving him control of everything.

Everything, did you hear me? Do you know how frightening it is to give the Holy Spirit free reign? Do you know what happens when you let it all go? You might end up writing books for a living, or moving across the world to be a missionary, or finding your house full of children. You might have to get a new job or keep the job you hate. The Holy Spirit does not prioritize based on our comfort levels, I’ve found.

Today’s podcast from Michael Hyatt was all about Setting Up Camp in the Discomfort Zone, further adding to my sense of coming change.

As of yesterday afternoon, I’ve given up on ignoring God and I’m really trying to listen (ignoring him wasn’t working anyway) and I have a feeling we aren’t in for a move across the country or even a job change.

I think the coming change is very small.

It’s probably going to be very hard.

Changes in the heart are often the hardest, aren’t they? The changes where we move from distrust to faith, or from selfishness to generosity. Sometimes we have to learn to speak with kindness, which of course means we have to have the kindness in our hearts in the first place. We might be called to offer mercy when we’d rather retaliate, or show grace when we just aren’t in the mood.

The Holy Spirit might not be asking for a radical, obvious, adrenaline-pumping kind of change. He might be asking for a change of heart.

Ephesians 4:23-24

Thoughts? What heart-changes are the hardest for you to make?

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