“Do you ever feel guilty?” That was my friend’s question to me. He had just recently left working at a Christian organization for a secular company and was having some second thoughts about it. “Do you ever feel guilty that you’re not doing something with more significance?” He asked again. I thought about it, I didn’t really have an answer but I said that sometimes I do. It’s true I do sometimes wonder if all the time, energy and money that was invested on a ministry based education was worth it; given that I don’t do anything related to it on a daily basis.
In African Traditional Religion men are encouraged to have as many children as possible, because it is only in children that ones existence is validated. The fact that the children exist, proves that the father existed. It is believed that the male exists as long as he is remembered, so having more children means more people to remember them and thus keep them in the realm of existence longer. The western mindset would see this as foolish and I can’t say that I disagree. Still, I don’t think it’s so different from how we actually live. Everyone is looking for significance, their purpose in life, so we spend our lives looking for the big thing we can do to change the world to prove we existed. In my high school youth group being a “world changer” was an acceptable answer for “what do you want to do with your life.” Most of us won’t have 23 children but most of us are willing to do whatever it takes to feel significant in life.
This mindset misses that significance is where you find it. Every job and person has significance. In our striving to find significance we miss out on all the ways that we are having an impact on people.
I’ve been trying to notice this more lately and found that ministry will come to you if you’re open to it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been able to say a little something to a co-worker or sit and listen to them vent on something that is a struggle for them. Those moments are ministry, they are places that God has allowed me to do ministry. No, I wasn’t leading anyone to Christ in any explicit way or doing anything that would traditionally be seen as ministry, but it is ministry nonetheless. I was helping that person at that moment find life.
Jesus said that he came to give life and give it more abundantly. I’m realizing that ministry is more about helping people to find abundant life than it is about explicitly leading people to Christ. I believe that finding life is addictive, when you truly experience life you want more. It’s in this that I find it significant that Jesus only spoke of someone being saved once and that person (Zacchaeus) was saved not because of anything Jesus explicitly told him to do, but because he found life in being validated by Jesus’ presence at his house.
For the ninety-plus percent of us that don’t do professional ministry and even for those who do, ministry is about helping people to find life. If we are serious about bringing people to Christ and we really believe that Christ brings abundant life, then we need to be serious about helping people to find life whether at that moment it includes Christ or not. This is why I don’t feel guilty anymore, because everyday I get another chance to help someone find just a little more life and that is significant.