Dr. Robert P. Wilder, the founder, and for many years the influential head of the Student Volunteer Movement, once said: “When I was working in India, I went to a place near Poona. On Saturday night, when I entered the hotel dining room, I found seated at the same table with me a naval officer. Also an infantry major and his wife, and a sergeant major and his wife. When the conversation started, the naval officer said:
“‘Why don’t these missionaries stay at home, and mind their own business? You can get all the converts you want at a rupee ahead.’
“I replied, `Suppose you were ordered to take your battleship to Constantinople tomorrow, and I was to ask you why you didn’t stay here and mind your own business; that there was no sense in going to Constantinople.’
“The man’s eyes flashed fire as he said, `I would tell you to mind your own business. If we are ordered to go, we must go, even if every ship is sunk, and every sailor killed.’
“I said to him, `Quite right, my friend; and I have marching orders from the Divine Government to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, and the primary question is whether I am going to obey the last command of my Lord.’ “—Selected.
What is driving us to carry out God’s mission in the world? Do we do the mission for fortune and fame? Do we do the mission to fill the church pews and collection plate? Heavens no! We carry out the mission of God because God gave us the marching orders. Those orders are simple: “Go and preach the Gospel.” Our mission is clear sometimes our motives need to be guarded. In this post, I want to give you some common sense ways to defend the mission.
Guard The Mission
Jesus is teaching his disciples an important lesson about accountability. He approached the topic with the disciples on two fronts. 1) Do not get into ministry for selfish gain, and 2) do not seek personal security. Jesus makes it clear that God provides for the care of the His servants. Saint Paul indicates that when he writes, “for the worker is worth of his keep.” Our primary concern should not be to take care of ourselves. God will do that.
The worldly mentality of “what’s in it for me,” limits the possibility of what great things the Holy Spirit can do through us. These words of caution are coming from someone who spent the majority of his ministry serving congregations under 100 in attendance while being blessed with a large a family on a modest salary.
What Jesus is saying here goes far beyond money. It also applies to recognition. Is your primary motive to impress others? Do you compare your ministry to the pastor down the street? I will confess that there were times that I did. And since we are going down this path of transparency I admit that at times, I was jealous of the pastor’s success. I worked just as hard as he did but not with the similar results. So he must be watering down the Gospel, right? Must the brother be doing something wrong, preaching a different truth? God stopped me and looked deep into my heart and asked me point blank, who are you serving? Did you become a pastor to receive praise and honor for all the right things you do? Or was this about me? Those were not fun conversations. God said clearly, “Keep the focus on Jesus and His mission! You are doing this to give glory to me! It is about me. It has always been about me.”
Jesus is communicating in Matthew.
Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. Matthew 10:8-10
To Protect the Mission Build It Around Mercy
(v. 8) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Jesus was telling the disciples in Matthew chapter 10 verse 8 to do what he had empowered them to do in verse 1. “I gave you these gifts so that you can use them to benefit others.” The mission you have been called to involves helping the hurting. Meeting physical needs so that you get to spiritual needs. That is the heart of mercy ministry. It is not about giving people handouts. It is about being the hands, heart and the feet of Jesus. It’s about noticing those people that Jesus stopped along the side of the road and loved. The ones Jesus ministered too. The people Jesus said are important. That their lives matter. Whether it is the man born blind or the woman with 12 years of bleeding or the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus noticed people in need. And he did just say be well and fed. He stopped and met their physical needs and then their spiritual needs. The key to a fruitful ministry is to find a need and fill it. That’s what Jesus has called us to do.
Do we need to ask: What can I do to help others? Our work may not be as impactful as raising the dead. Or casting out devils, but if we’re helping people, it is kingdom work. And kingdom work is important work.
God has called the Church to continue His mission. It may appear to be small, but he has plans for His Church and His Kingdom.
Other blog posts in this series: