How does one build a ministry that will impact not just this generation but countless generations to come? Advertising and marketing specialists would say, “Package your message in memorable sound bites and saturate the market with your face so everyone knows who you are. Blitz the talk-show circuit and share what you think. Get your name in print wherever and whenever you can. Build your public persona so that you become a household name.” In essence create an atmosphere where you are the center of attention.
A major problem with this approach is that you get your minute or two of fame and then you and your message are forgotten. Often the message so carefully crafted and communicated was not even worth the minute or two of fame it garnered. Countless men and women have burst on the stage of life with a meteoric rise to fame, only to crash and burn in the pit of obscurity.
Jesus Christ was born in relative obscurity according to our standards and yet He and His simple message of forgiveness and life continue to impact generation after generation. He did not come to build a great name, to draw huge crowds, or even to do amazing things that would insure a large following. He simply came to seek, to serve, and to save those who are lost. He came to flesh out God so that we could understand and live.
His ministry was not based in popularity or publicity, although great throngs of people followed Him. His life-changing message was based in purity, bathed in power, and bequeathed to each of His followers with the promise of persecution. And yet through the centuries countless, and often nameless faces have committed all that they were to carrying forth that simple message of life. Why?
The answer is simple and yet profound. It is clear and yet missed. Jesus poured His life into people – one person at a time. It was not the crowd that reaped the riches of heaven’s message, but instead the beggar, who everyone ignored, and the town whore, who everyone despised, and the leper, who everyone retreated from, and the tax collector,, who everyone hated, and even the cripple who everyone endured. Jesus touched the individual, but rarely if ever the crowd. Jesus withdrew from those who would make Him the king of the teeming populace to pour out His life into twelve future revolutionaries and even one of them could not embrace Christ’s method of kingdom building.
Bright lights and big crowds are not the measure of success in ministry. Our job is not to construct the eternal church of God. Jesus said, “I will build My church.” Instead our job is to use the keys that Christ has given us to unlock and invite those He places in our path into His glorious kingdom. Our job is to pour our lives (the abundant and eternal one Christ has so wonderfully given us) into a few others so that they may in turn pour theirs into a few others.
The secret of successful ministry is to be a pitcher that not only receives the glorious treasures of heaven but also pours forth with liberality those precious life-giving treasures. Jesus came from the treasure house of heaven and kept nothing for Himself; He emptied Himself and poured all that the Father had given Him into the lives of a few people. A pitcher is useless if it sits on the shelf and shines for all to see. It is only in the act of pouring that the pitcher accomplishes what it was created for.
Are you storing up or pouring out? The answer will determine whether or not your ministry is stagnant or successful – forgotten or remembered – burned up or rewarded