One of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read is Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus with Young People (link is to Amazon). In fact, I think it should be compulsary reading for all Christians!
While heavily focussed on Youth Ministry (dur!), it’s actually packed full of important principles to do with slowing down, contemplating and reflecting on things more, and moving away from being anxiety driven, and it applies across the board.
One point that has particularly stuck with me is the way that, at times, ministry is turned on its head. In particular, the point is made that you may be a youth minister not so much because of how you can ministry to the kids, but rather because God wants to work on you through it.
In fact, I’m going to copy out the pertinent paragraph
Can we see that maybe the reason God has drawn us into ministry with young people isn’t because we have something to offer, but because there is something we need to receive? … Maybe youth ministry is your spiritual discipline. It’s not just a place where you serve, it’s a place where you are being transformed, healed, and made new.
Mark Yaconelli (2006) Contemplative Youth Ministry – Practising the presence of Jesus with young people. SPCK. pg 91.
The reason I blog about this today is that a very similar point was made in yesterday’s CMF devotional. I will quote the first two paragraphs:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Jn 15:5 (NIV)
Preparing to spend time working abroad. I received a letter from a missionary friend of mine. It made me stop to think.Remember,the letter went,that the Lord is putting you into this situation, not primarily for what you can do, but because of his plans for you. His first concern is the growth of your relationship with him.
Here was a rather different perspective from my own thoughts along the lines of how much I could contribute, with my training, in the Lord’s name, and how I would be able to demonstrate his love practically. But his plans for me concerned teaching me to depend on him, the truth attested to in the verse above, and seen in its practical reality in the biographies of many pioneers in missionary work.
Like this writer say, God’s first agenda for me – as an individual – is my relationship with Him and my dependence on Him. To some extent, any ministry I undertake is primarily to this end. Why God chooses to make us His ‘plan A’ (when He could just click His fingers) I’m not sure, but He seems to.
The writer goes on the apply it not just to oversees mission, or indeed any ministry, but rather our day to day situation. Do I see my job as the means through while God will increase my dependence on Him and deepen our relationship? I am getting better at letting God’s business be His business, and only concerning myself with the part He’s called me to play.