Over the past 18 months I’ve been slowly memorising the book of Colossians. While walking my dog recently, I decided to forgo my usual podcast and recite what I’d memorised so far. I find walking helps me to see things more clearly—and God graciously used this time to bring me face-to-face with my own pride.
When you recite Scripture from memory you can dwell on the words in a deeper way. I might have skipped over the familiar words while reading, but instead these two verses powerfully reminded me that ministry is not about me.
“I became a minister [of the church] according to the stewardship from God…” (v. 25a)
It is not my ministry. The work and results always come from God. We are only stewards entrusted with the care of those we minister to. A few verses later, Paul says he does this work “with all [God’s] energy he powerfully works within me”. We are vehicles for God’s grace to others, not the source of it.
“…that was given to me for you…” (v. 25b)
Christians often make a big deal about finding your spiritual gifts. I fear this has made us think that ministry is about fulfilling ourselves—we want to feel like we’re using the full extent of our talents on something that suits us. Yet this stewardship was not given to Paul for his own good. It was to serve the people in front of him. Whether or not it’s what you like or are good at, serving the church is about meeting the needs of other people.
“…to make the word of God fully known…” (v. 26)
This is how we meet people’s true needs. Those who have been entrusted with any kind of teaching ministry are given the task of making all God’s word known—not making our own intellect or gifts known.
A mere two short verses cut me to the heart. Why do I waste so much energy worrying about doing ministry that fulfills me and suits my giftings? Why do I seek a platform, as if ministry was in any way centred around me?
I’m far from naturally gifted at evangelism, but Jesus’ command is clear: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). I must go out of my comfort zone for the sake of those who are perishing.
Paul is often held up as a missionary giant. He planted and strengthened countless churches and faced immense suffering for the gospel. But he didn’t take a spiritual gifts inventory to make sure all this aligned with his strengths.
He followed the leading of the Spirit and willingly suffered for the sake of the church. He worked day and night, labouring at his tentmaking profession so that he could continue to preach the gospel.
And he did it for the sake of those he loved, wanting them to “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding” (Colossians 2:2). His ministry was about them. He could have chosen power and prestige, as he already had these as Pharisee, but he’d been captured by a far more dazzling vision: Jesus Christ on the Damascus road.
Think about your own attitude towards ministry. Whatever ministry God has placed you in, he has done it for the sake of those who you are ministering to. Is this your perspective? Is your goal to help them know the word of God better? Perhaps God is confronting you with the same instruction he gave to me through these verses: repent of your pride and selfishness, and commit to dying to yourself for the good of others.