Over the years I have seen many missionaries leave the field. Some were forced to leave because of sin that disqualified them, others just quit.
Those who become disqualified do so because of a serious issue such as sexual-sin, or financial misconduct. But what about those who simply choose to leave the field?
In many of those cases its discouragement that brings this about. But if we dig deeper, randomness or “unplanned ministry” is the source of that discouragement.
This makes sense because a ministry that tries to accomplish everything will in the long-run accomplish very little.
One of the most dangerous things about random ministry is it comes from a heart that truly wants to serve God. The missionaries heart is tender towards every need, and therefore tries to meet each one. The problem is our energy (as well as time) are limited. So random ministry leads to burnout.
Satan also uses random ministry to deceive us into seeing busyness as being the same as success. The random missionary at the end of the day asks “how many tasks have I accomplished?” or “how many hours did I work?” in order to decide whether or not that day is successful.
Of course God wants us to be busy! But the random ministry emphasises “hustling” or running from one ministry opportunity to the next. So the many ministries they accomplish end up being quite shallow.
A Biblical response to random ministry is “purposeful ministry” which focuses on accomplishing the specific tasks God has given for that day.
Practically Purposeful Ministry Means:
- You have a Calling: A specific ministry focus (such as evangelism, or discipleship)
- You have a Burden: A more detailed area of your calling (God has given you a burden for young adults)
- You have a Mission Field: A specific group of people (fitting within that burden) that God has called you to reach
- You have Goals: Specific ministry goals that you want to accomplish in that mission field
- You have a Plan: Steps that been thought out carefully and prayed over, to complete those Goals
- You Have Open Hearts: Individuals within that mission field that are open to the Lord’s working in their lives
- And you have a Schedule: Specific times on specific days set aside to work through that plan with open hearted individuals.
Okay so you want always have all of these things, but the more that in place, the more focused your ministry will be.
This doesn’t mean you aren’t open to the Holy Spirit opening up a door of ministry that isn’t planned. But in most cases, God honours those who have done the hard work of planning more than those who spend their day looking for open doors.
As someone who has spent too many days hustling and accomplishing little more than exhaustion, the Lord has taught me few things give ministry more power than a clear purpose.