The Art of Being Different

One of these things is doing its own thing; (sing along with me now) one of these things just doesn’t belong…

O.K. so you’re not as familiar with the Sesame Street classics as I’d hoped. Doesn’t matter.

Does it worry you to be different? I don’t always fit in. And the fact I’m even moderately concerned I don’t fit in irks me even more than the actual ‘not fitting in’.

Why? If I’m brutally honest with myself, it irritates me because I’d like to think I don’t need anyone. I’d like to think I don’t need others’ approval.

And herein lies the problem: as a Pastor, as a leader, as a Christian man, I do need approval.

Let me clarify: I do need to hear every once in awhile, ‘You are valued, your unique ministry is what God has given to His Church’. And herein (also) lies the problem for many Australian Churches. We are giving Pastors, ministry leaders and potential leaders the opposite picture. We’re showing them their ministry must conform to an accepted norm to be valid (and approved of).

I wonder how many sit in our congregations longing to be involved in a valued ministry, but do not have ministry skills that will fit into certain expected norms? (like worship leader, deacon, elder, youth pastor, pastor… you can place your own norms here.)

Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone was commissioned to do the ministry God purposed for them?

How exciting would it be to go to a gathering where person after person stood up and testified about how they ministered to someone within their own unique work situation?

I want to hear stories of how the sales person sold more than just their assigned product; leaving with their client the idea of a passionate God who wants a relationship with them. I want to hear stories of the taxi driver who spoke of Jesus’ hope and love to a fare he picked up outside the hospital. Stories of the teacher who illustrated God’s forgiveness to a rebellious teenager.

I want to see a revolution in ministry!

To see ministry happening outside the Church building, to see Sunday services become a time of joyful praise, not only because of who He is but because of what He has done through the ministry of all the believers.

Now you might be sitting here thinking, ‘well that is nothing new’, and ‘we all want that’. But how can we achieve this ideal?

Perhaps something drastic will have to happen. It will begin with us Pastors. Some Pastors may have to leave the ‘pastorate’ in the professional sense and lead the ministry revolution through example.

No matter who you are and what you do, if your job is getting in the way of ministry change jobs!

If you’re a full time paid Pastor, when was the last time you ministered to someone outside the family of Christ?

Just pause and do a quick check of your own ministry situation. If the office of Pastor is hindering you from living out God’s purpose for your life, eventually your heart will be hardened and your hearing will be dulled. You will no longer hear God’s voice in your life. And that’s the last position you want to be in as a Pastor.

I regularly take stock of my ministry situation. And I guess you could say recently I have refreshed faith indwelling me, a renewed passion and a voice which communicates to me as clear as any voice I’ve ever heard. And it’s saying, ‘Extend His kingdom, extend His kingdom’.

To return to my opening thoughts, this is why it upsets me that I feel different. Why do I need human approval if I hear God’s voice so clearly? Why would I need your blessing if I am hearing God’s?

To be honest I have tried to come up with all sorts of rational explanations. Perhaps it’s because I’m really an attention seeking, self-centred egotistical, self-absorbed man. Perhaps it’s because God created all of us with a need to belong. Perhaps it is both. I don’t know.

Regardless, I want to heed His voice and extend His kingdom! And I want to follow His purpose for my life over and above any man-appointed plan.

That is were the revolution in ministry needs to begin!

Want to join me?

I’ sure we can take a little poetic licence with that Sesame Street song, I know my kids sure do: two of these things are doing their own thing: (No wait! Now there’s ten) Ten of these things are doing (Hang on! Where did you all come from?) Forty-nine of these things just do not belong.

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