I originally titled this blog, “What Ministry Taught Me About Life.” It seems appropriate, as it is where I truly learned this lesson, but the concept applies to so much more than just what we would typically classify as “ministry” today. One definition of ministry is a period of service. It is the help that we offer to others.
I have been found guilty many times of wanting to help someone more than they wanted to be helped, or better yet, more than they wanted to help themselves. I am also guilty of trying to help beyond what was required of me, whether it was asked for or not. It’s a hard and exhausting realization to come to when you just want the best for those you care about. Or even yet, your fellow man. But the bigger picture reminds me that there are many people to touch and much work to be done. It reminds and compels me to be a great steward over my most valuable resource—time. And as such, it requires that I be strategic with how and who I invest in.
It’s said that service is the rent we pay for the space that we occupy. Without a doubt, each of us are called to serve and help those around us in various capacities. And while serving others can be demanding and challenging, it doesn’t have to be emotionally depriving when approached and done the right way. I’ve seen many people (including myself) get burned out, become bitter, selfish, and even reserved when it comes to serving and helping others. Here’s what I learned.
.: 1 People will ultimately make their own choices, regardless of what you say/do or don’t.
It’s true that your words may have influence and power, but you cannot make any one do any thing, especially when they’ve demonstrated that their mind is made up. And that’s ok. Real love and authentic leadership never employ manipulation tactics any way. Your job is to steer them in the right direction, lead them to the water. It hurts to see someone go down a wrong hard road, but you’ll save yourself so much heart ache, time and energy that can be more purposefully invested.
.: 2 Help what you can, be ok with what you cannot.
Discipleship teaches us that although there are always needs to be met at any given place and time, YOU are NOT always the one to meet them. And even if you are, to what degree? It’s not about who’s “worthy” of your help, because everyone is. This decision should be evaluated prayerfully, not situationally. Else, you may find yourself getting pulled in more directions than you can physically, emotionally, and mentally handle. It’s not about doing the minimum, but it’s ok to be ok with genuinely fulfilling what you believe was your part to meet.
.: 3 Bless them and release them.
George Fraser said something that has stuck with me to this day, ‘you can’t spend major time with minor people.’ That can sound harsh, but is not meant to imply that some people are lower in status than others, rather that it’s not wise to invest major time into those whose mind is made up to be unfruitful and even counterproductive. I believe that there are times that God will call and give you the grace to weather it out with someone, be it professionally or personally. But when you’ve fulfilled your commitment and/or have done all that you can for someone, your job is done. I’ve learned that pruning the relationships in your life is just as pivotal for growth for us as it is for plant life—and it changes with seasons.
.: 4 Sometimes, prayer is the exclusively best thing.
In writing this, I had to repent in my thinking as I like many of us sometimes subconsciously go to prayer as a last resort. You hear it when we say, “well, just pray for them.” It’s natural to resort to prayer when all else fails, but a Godly life precedes and concludes with prayer. More importantly, when we say “well, I’ll just pray,” if we’re not careful, the connotation here can imply a passive weakness regarding prayer that paints a picture of inferiority to every other method of help that we’ve tried. While practically speaking, sometimes prayer literally is our last chance after we have exhausted every other avenue. Point is, from the onset to the conclusion, prayer is the best tactic that we can employ when helping someone. But sometimes, prayer is also, exclusively, is the best things that we can do for someone. There is great power in surrendering the people you aim to serve, as well as your own will, to God. It puts Him in the driver’s seat. I’ve learned that sometimes that is the best, and only the thing, that I can do and should be doing to help someone I care about—and we’re all better for it.
When it comes to serving and helping people, I’ve learned and have authentically accepted that our job is to simply lead them to the water, not make them drink it too. When I choose to follow my own advice, I find that that it’s a lot easier to stay refreshed, focused and fulfilled 🙂 Can you relate?