Sunday, 29 April 2012

Has "Ministry" Become Egotistic?

Photo Credit: Ben Sutherland
Flickr Creative Commons
I’ve been thinking lately. (Never mind the sarcastic, “oh, oh.” -LOL). But seriously, I’ve been thinking about the way we use the word “ministry.” Have we abused the word a bit by using it in some strange ways that really are not found in Scripture?

What am I talking about? I’m talking about how we often use the word “ministry” to speak of something that we personally are doing in the name of Christianity, and which is somehow different than that which our brothers or sisters are doing. We speak of “my ministry,” or “her ministry,” or “their ministry.” We speak of someone as being “called to ministry,” implying that there are those who are not “called to ministry.” In my way of thinking, there really ought not be a distinction made, for are not all “called to ministry?”

It seems to me that we have somehow personalized “ministry” to line up with our perceived individual callings, interests or egos. I get the sense sometimes that there is an awful lot of personal pride in the way many do “ministry” today. Is that what the word “ministry” has evolved into? I wonder.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)
We speak of music ministries and prison ministries. We speak of youth ministries and children’s ministries. There are inner city ministries, cowboy ministries, and one that I’ve even once belonged to, motorcycle ministries. I have only just touched the edge of the iceberg here. In truth, as many different interests that people have, there could and probably are, “ministries” to meet someone’s perceived need in those interest groups.

So what’s the problem? Maybe nothing. Maybe this is all nothing more than semantics. Maybe this is all nothing more than my own little pet peeve. But as I was thinking about these things, I came away thinking that there really is only ONE ministry, and that is the “ministry of reconciliation.” 
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; ESV, emphasis mine) 
Photo Credit: John C Abell
Flickr Creative Commons
The only “ministry” that the church has is that of reconciliation. Granted, how that happens does vary from place to place and circumstance to circumstance. But our only end goal or interest ought to be that people be reconciled to God. That is "the" ministry.

Maybe, as I just mentioned, you feel that this is all simply semantics. That’s OK; you are entitled to your view too. My point is not to belabor this or to start some big theological debate. I am simply sharing my heart. Sometimes I just get a little uncomfortable with the way we use the word “ministry” because it almost always sounds like what we’re doing is making it all about us … instead of about Jesus.

That’s the way I see it anyway.


  1. I like considering semantics as well. So no complaints here. I think the word at one point meant to care for the needs of others, similar to being a servant.

    But now in the examples you listed, it seems often describes ones authority or leadership in some program or position.

    It's quite a shift in thinking really.

  2. I'm often uncomfortable with it too. Just the other day someone said, "When I minister..." meaning, give sermons or teachings. I guess that can be a way to give to others, if, for sure, it is speaking what and when He wants.

    As you are pointing out, humility is the key.

    I believe the word ministry should be understood as service--like a servant serves--rather than an office. "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first."