Tasks Not Ministries

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Was just listening to someone* talk about how in the book of Acts, when Paul and Barnabas came back from an expedition, Paul reported that they had "completed the task" that God set them to do. And it smacked them in the face, even though they'd read it countless times before, that they don't hear Christians talking about tasks they've completed because Christians don't get to complete anything!

That's because our tasks don't have end-dates; our tasks we stretch out into shapes called ministries. Paul and Barnabas went to wherever it was God had sent them to, and then had no other trips for three years. We would begin to question our performance in the kingdom if God didn't do anything with our particular area of expertise for three years, wouldn't we? We don't have tasks that we get to complete, and feel satisfied about. We have the bland beigeness of our ministry within same old same old Christianism, day in, day out. No weft, no weave, no changing of seasons. Just the machine chugging itself along doing what it did last week and what it'll do next week.

We do so like to label and categorise ourselves, don't we? All those spiritual gifts inventories which are handy in their own way, I suppose (I've done more than my fair share of them :) But wouldn't it be nice if we believed that the things that the Father has prepared for us to do before the foundations of the earth are things that will naturally fit into our own lives? That they are things we come upon, things we are drawn to? Not necessarily things that will fit in our nice little egoic ministries? I can't stand seeing the websites of people that contain the word "ministry" in large font anymore. They smack of that person. Do we not understand how it would feel for someone to be helped by someone with "a ministry"? That it would make them feel like cogs in a wheel, like welfare dependents? How much harder to see God when the person helping you is looming so large?

Much more endearing a person who is living their life not needing to force it all to happen quite so much. Just a person, without a business card proclaiming their ministry. Just a person living their life, a life that gets to have this rich complexity so that it's not "my ministry" but just my life with God weaving himself through it, leading us on to things he's prepared for us to do. Or do we not trust that God is going to do such things unless we create the ministry box for him to put his stuff into? We underestimate his creativity and his power.

The Father may say, "I want you to go and be with this group of people for a certain amount of time," and it doesn't even matter where the group of people meets - it could be the First Baptist Church or a home church, or a single person. We may just have a certain inkling that we want to be around these people. We are free to do so and to know that it most likely will not be forever (although maybe it will be, who knows?) Where is it written that once we begin meeting with a certain group of people that we must continue doing so until we're dead? Gotta sign the church membership form to prove our commitment? We have more freedom than that, and we should not have to be tied down into human-made shackles.

I love the emphasis and the reminder that life is about hearing God, walking with God. Always loved that phrase in the Old Testament. So and so walked with God. All those people who walked with God. This is what I want, I want to walk with God and go where he asks me to go, whatever that may look like.

That smells like freedom. I don't want no ministry, don't want nothing I can put on a business card, thanks all the same. I want to follow what's on my heart. And sometimes that will not make much sense to anyone outside of my own heart. Sometimes it will look to people outside of me that I am going the wrong way, wasting my time with the wrong people, being way too gracious with ungracious people, whatever, you know? But I get to do what is on my heart. That's the freedom of following the Father.

I guess too the flipside of this sort of freedom is that I am also free to not do what he is asking me to do (but that brings up a whole slew of questions: is there punishment for not doing what I am asked to do? Will we pay for who we've been?). He doesn't ask me to do nice happy things that fit in my comfort zone. He asks me to do things and see people that stretch me out so far I think I will snap. It is not always easy to say yes to God, even though I think there is always life there when we do. But we are agoraphobic people :) Still, better to snap than to die on your feet of boredom within the beige :)

It takes so long to learn this and keep this in mind. I need to keep being reminded of it, need to keep listening to other people who are learning the same great whopping freedom that is life walking with God and hearing for ourselves.


* This is Wayne Jacobsen's Transition series. The focus here is on moving from religious mindsets to a life lived loved in the Father. It brings me back to the simplicity of what I think it is about, this life in God where occasionally (blessedly) the focus is off of me and all of my wants and desires and stuff and mind babble, and I smell what it is to live unself-consciously. Nice.


  1. Brilliant post, my dear.

    I might like to steal a bit from it and track back here if you don't mind?

  2. Of course I don't mind! Never need to ask to linkback ;)

  3. You rock, baby! I love what you said about not having to be with the same people until we die. I said that same thing, that maybe we need to change churches every season or so (this was back when I still thought church was the only way) and it was one of the "wrong" things to say in church. Bad idea, heretic Erin.

    I also love the freedom to NOT do things...because sometimes we just don't have it in us.

    You rock for saying it all so well!

  4. Erin, yeah, it's only family we're stuck with until we die, bwahaha :) Oooh, yes, I'm sure that would have been a bad thing to say - naughty girl :)

    That fredom to NOT do things - I feel like I need to talk about that more. Surely that is a part of grace, too the leaving the good undone? Surely? Because we're fuck-ups?


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