Last Tuesday during our weekly ministry at a local prison we had a time for testimonies. As one of the prisoners stood and exhorted his fellow inmates to “put on the whole armor of God” I couldn’t help but watch with a big smile on my face.
Seeing him challenge other men with the word of God reminded me of something I heard a pastor say at a Bible conference last year. He explained ministry as being a “grandparent” who gave the workers whatever they needed to finish a job instead of doing it themselves, then just stood back and smiled. The emphasis is on equipping instead of doing the work themselves
I personally struggle with this because the Lord has created me as someone who is task-based, or likes to fix problems. Its way too easy to do all of the work yourself instead of training others to do it.
At the same time, I am working on an equipping philosophy of ministry because though slower in the beginning, it is much stronger in the future.
Something that really challenges me to become more of a grandparent when it comes to ministry is the fact that people [once properly trained and motivated] will take up the ministry themselves.
When we began the prison ministry they would bring us into actual cell-blocks in groups of two. This allowed us to reach more men, but the ministry itself became stronger when they started gathering all of the men in one room. This allowed to have an organized service with singing, testimonies, and preaching for the whole group.
For a while we would encourage the men to do a part of the ministry, but they seemed nervous to do so. Over time however they became more and more involved. Today the only thing we as a prison-ministry group do is share a devotional verse, and preach a message. And on days like last week, even that message seemed unnecessary since they had already heard one!
The problem with a grand parenting view of ministry is [as I said above] it starts slowly. Often Individuals are hesitant to become involved in doing the work, especially if there’s somebody else there who is already gifted in doing it.
This can lead to a mind-set with people that the minister is there “to do the work” and they are simply there to listen. Sadly people are activity oriented like me strengthen that idea because we are too impatient to lay the groundwork of equipping and training people.
An equipping view of ministry does involve lots of hard work and patience, but its definitely worth the wait
seeing men who live every day together in that facility exhort one another with Scripture made all of the hard work and waiting worth it.
As 2020 closes the Lord is burdening me to become more of a grandparent….
Someone who instead of doing the work themselves because its easier that way, patiently and faithfully trains someone else
Someone who focuses on working themselves out of a job
Someone who is thinking not just about ministry during their life, but ministry for future generations
Someone who watches a spiritual child do the work with a huge smile on their face