Margin For Ministry? (Part 1)

by Matt Schroeder

We all have those moments when someone speaks a word about how the Gospel of Christ has been wrecking their life and it ends up piercing our own hearts as we listen.

It is one of the beautiful aspects of community; we learn more of God’s character from each other than we do if we live in isolation.

For me, I was enjoying Christ with friend over a cup of coffee. We were discussing what it means to love people well and carry out Christ’s work of discipleship to the whole world.

My friend plainly said, “You know what I’ve realized? Christ was interrupted ALL THE TIME! Everywhere he went, people were constantly coming up to him, imposing their agendas onto his life. Everywhere Jesus went, his schedule and time was interrupted by people wanting his healing power or to break him down.”

That idea has rung in my heart for a few years now. The more I chew on it, think about it, read about it, and (to be honest) try to avoid it, the more I see this was true of Christ’s ministry.

- “WHILE he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying “….  – Matthew 9:18 

- “And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.” – Mark 7:24

- “While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went and reclined at table.” – Luke 11:37

- “And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” – Mark 10:17

I think it is fair to say some of Jesus most powerful moments of ministry and discipleship did not happen during the “ministry time” slots on his calendar. There’s no question Jesus walked with purpose wherever he went. He had plans to go to certain cities and heal, cast out demons, and preach.

I’m not saying Jesus aimlessly walked around the earth for 33 years.

What I am saying is that Jesus did not let interruptions, curve balls, and unexpected moments keep him from loving other people. Every moment of his life was being filtered through the lenses of, “the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

 

I would like to take a moment to speak frankly; I think many of us struggle with discipleship, evangelism, and serving others because we operate in strong compartmentalization.

No need to go further than looking at my own life.

If you look at my iPad right now, all my days are filled with colored blocks of what I am doing and at what time. There is no empty space on my calendar. I have multiple applications on there for reminders and schedule keeping. I have reminders reminding me about my reminders!!!

I am not advocating we should all throw out our planners and live care-free lives, waiting for the wind to blow us to the next place for ministry. I don’t think Jesus did that, and I don’t think we should do that.

I am also not saying we should not have planned discipleship time with brothers and sisters. Some of my favorite memories are of me having breakfast with my pastor in college once a week to talk about life and Jesus. I think planned and organized ministry is needed and must happen.

I currently run every Thursday morning with a brother for encouragement and spurring one another on. So, please do not misunderstand, I fully believe in scheduled ministry.

 

Perhaps what I am getting at here is not that Jesus obsesses over the nitty gritty of our calendars and schedules, but maybe it’s our hearts Jesus is after. Maybe, it’s our level of surrender.

What if Jesus is calling us to be excellent at everything we do, plan well, be organized; but hold it all with open hands?

The question is not, how many hours each day do you set aside to go love someone? Although that in-and-of-itself is not a bad question.

The question is, how much of your life have you surrendered to Jesus’ total control?

Have you let Jesus take control of your life so that when he calls you to go talk to this person, or pray for that guy, or speak the gospel to that person, you obey? Or are you filtering those things through the lenses of, “I don’t have time for that. It’s not “ministry time” right now.”

Are you available for people to call you when they are hurting and need encouragement?

Are you willing to stop watching the NBA Finals on TV when you see your wife needing help with the dishes or putting the kids to bed?

Have you ever been late to a meeting because you were sharing the gospel with someone? I’m not saying you must have the box checked in your life to be a good Christian. What I am saying is we need to be open to the Spirit’s leading in our lives.

 

“Yeah, but Matt, being late to meeting is irresponsible and you will offend the person you were meeting.”

We’ll talk about that next week!

 

In the mean time, pray for God to take you to a greater level of surrender with your time, schedule, ministry, and life!