Doing ministry can be a distraction

Mark 7:8-9; 13, You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!…  13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” – NIV

Breaking the Mold

The verses above were intended for the religious leaders regarding their ceremonial washings; this had become a tradition but lost the context of its existence. Over the generations it deviated from its original intention. Jesus exposed the man-made custom, which had become a burden for people and, even worse, a tradition they upheld over God’s Word. Whatever we put before God is an idol.

Many of us have been through the same thing in our personal lives – following the tradition without questioning its validity and as Jesus mentioned above, “we do many things like that.” Some ministries, including some food pantries and soup kitchens, have slowly deviated from their original plan of ministering to the clients to just feeding and handing out food to the poor – “doing” ministry has distracted them from their relationship with God and with others. They do the tasks (tradition) that have been handed down to them from former leaders.

Jesus broke the mold of the erroneous beliefs of the past generations and He is still doing it in our present time.

The Pressure

Recently, I had been putting too much pressure on myself to be a model leader and for FHL to be a model organization. I worked long hours in serving, planning and strategizing (After all, I was doing good things for others!). The self-inflicted pressure caught up with me. I felt rushed most of the time, which prevented me from enjoying the process. After several weeks of prayers, I sensed God telling me that He loves me, not because of what I do for Him but because of His unconditional love. He wants my relationship with Him to grow deeper while “doing” ministry.

If my focus is on the task, then I lose my joy and then also my strength – “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). If my focus is God, then I continue to grow my relationship with Him and I experience the joy of the Lord. The former not only brings loss of strength, but I worry, become anxious and lose sleep at night. Ironically, the ministry that I love becomes a pressure that causes me to lose the joy in the Lord.

The Reminder

fullsizerender-3We have a saying at Faith Hope and Love, “It’s not about food; it’s about relationship” (with God and with others). Food ministry is our gateway to reach out to others, to our leaders, our volunteers and our clients. We do ministry from our relationship with God, and in that we do not become weary doing the tasks of the ministry. We become more productive by resetting the oar of our focus and thus propelling us to grow deeper with God.

{The image to the left is a simple illustration of the “Missional” food ministry that we have been working on in the past several years.}

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