Acts 20:20-21 “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
Here we have Paul’s self-description of his ministry, and it is clear and honorable. Many in ministry could not make such a claim. Paul was a Teacher, among the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8, and what he taught, where he taught, and whom he taught are worth noting. Of course his whole ministry was based on the message of repentance and faith, but he wasn’t a “one-note Charlie” about it, but taught any and every aspect of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Looking over the record of what he taught, we can see that sometimes he was comforting, sometimes he was encouraging, and sometimes he was downright severe in correcting. However, all of that was for the benefit of those to whom he ministered, and not to inflate himself. When you think about where he taught, his description could aptly be summarized as, everywhere. Essentially, he never stopped teaching. Other people have different gifts, but no one, once they have committed to Jesus as Lord, has “time off” from being His disciple. That’s not at all to say that we aren’t to rest or take vacations, but our availability to Christ must not be “on again, off again” in any respect. Too often we think of ministry as a job rather than as a privilege, a lifestyle. We can’t “clock in” and then “clock out” of following Jesus. The last point of whom Paul taught is also worth noting. We tend to limit our interactions to people who are like us (and people who like us) but Paul placed no such limits on himself. He got into some real arguments over the issue! Society today is fragmented in many different ways, but every individual in whatever segment is loved by God and needs His Word. Different people are called to minister to different groups, but we aren’t to refuse to minister because someone doesn’t fit into a particular group. God’s love is totally inclusive, and we need to reflect that.
I don’t think I’m being conceited to say that this is a fairly accurate description of my own ministry here in Omura. I have no room for pride, because I certainly haven’t had the results Paul had, but by the grace of God I have been faithful. I too am Teacher gifting, to the point that once they met me through my interpreting for them, Don and Katie Fortune started using me as an example of that gifting in their teaching on Motivational Gifts. I too will teach anywhere and everywhere, not hesitating to stand before large groups but also giving as much, if not more, on a one-to-one basis. It can be hard to get me to shut up! I feel I am sent to the Japanese, but over the years I have baptized people of several nations and ministered to people of even more. Frankly, there have been times when I have struggled with that, resenting people of other nations taking my time and attention when my heart is with Japan and the Japanese, but God has dealt with me on that issue. I am to interact with each person, whoever they are, as someone Jesus died for, and respond accordingly.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also that I won’t be here for one Sunday next month, and then for two or three Sundays in March, so that the church can be weaned off of their dependence on me. Thank You for the Coaching seminars to make me aware of the dangers of such dependence. May the believers indeed learn to feed themselves and stand tall in Your service, being far more fruitful than I ever could be by myself, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!