Last week we talked about not waiting around for the perfect moment to start serving Christ (see, “Life is Not a Bus Stop”). There is a flip side to this coin as well: we must be prepared to serve. If you want to help the homeless, it’s rarely a good or effective idea to head downtown and simply start handing out hotel keys. You need to understand the environment and the mentality of those you wish to serve. Jesus told us to be shrewd (Matthew 10:16) in our dealings with the world, so we need to be wise in our decisions, and utilize the gifts with which we have been entrusted.
As with any venture in life, you must prepare for success before you can achieve it. Achievement rarely falls into your lap, but rather is the result of diligence and hard work. In the above scenario, before you start a ministry to the homeless, you need to study everything you can lay your hands on that pertains to homelessness. You need to understand the psychology of the citizens of the streets and learn the rules that govern them. Pray, study, pray, read, pray; prepare your heart, mind and body for the work that lies ahead of you. Volunteer at a shelter in your city or in several cities. The point is if you are not actively engaged in the ministry for which you are gifted, you need to be preparing for the road ahead. Success comes to the diligent, and if you will prepare well, you will find great joy once your ministry begins. The goal is to glorify Christ by using the gifts He has given us. We would do well to become well versed in their usage. Someone with the gift of music doesn’t one day pick up an instrument and begin to play flawless works. No, they practice for hours on end, day in and day out. They are honing their gift, just as we all must do, regardless of what our gifts may be.
It can be easy to become discouraged during this time of sowing or practicing. It’s also easy to become frustrated when we are involved in active ministry but we aren’t seeing any tangible results. These feelings are natural. We want to glorify our King; we want to be out in the battle. It really becomes a matter of attitude. Are we seeking to glorify God or ourselves? If we truly have Christ in mind, we will patiently and positively bide our time, diligently preparing ourselves for the moment we will find ourselves thrust onto the front lines. By keeping our talents sharpened and our focus always on Jesus, we will be prepared at any moment for whatever may come our way. Remember, ministry happens every day in the interactions you have with others. Pray and study, then actively seek to apply what you have learned to your own life and in service to others. Those without Christ are always watching us, watching our attitudes. Stay positive and ready to serve Jesus at all times.
Finally, whether you are in a sowing or reaping phase, whether you are practicing or executing, do it with excellence. You represent the King and Creator of the universe. Do no shoddy work for Jesus. Remember what He gave up for you; certainly we can give no less in return! God rewards the diligent. Today’s frustration is tomorrow’s joy and triumph. Keep moving regardless of where you are in life. Take action, and do so with excellence. Read the book of Proverbs and see all the wonderful wisdom contained in that book as it pertains to diligence and work. God has uniquely gifted you for service, not for discouragement. If you will hone and use your gifts unabashedly for Him, He will use you to glorify Himself. In so doing, you will find the peace and the joy you have been seeking.
Don’t wait for divine intervention; identify and learn how to use your gifts so that you might be prepared at any moment to be the very hands and feet of God. Remember to stay focused and maintain a positive attitude when nothing seems to be working. In all you do, do it with excellence. God has supplied you with gifts for His service; He expects us to learn to use them well. God will reward those who passionately seek to serve Him. Prepare to serve, and then serve well.