This week, I will consciously give my work to God.
Excellence is a godly virtue, not just an old saying. If you try to do ministry “on the cheap,” you’ll forfeit ministry opportunities.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
~ Colossians 3:22-24
How fancy? How plain? Should my ministry look like a Broadway production? Or a humble storefront outpost?
The slaves of Colosse — a declining Turkish city in the days of Paul the apostle — could have been excused for doing shoddy work for their masters, who were by and large corrupt pagans or carnal Christians. Paul nevertheless admonished them to strive for excellence. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,” he said in Colossians 3:23, “as working for the Lord, not for men.”
A carpenter-slave, then, should assemble a chair the way he would assemble it if Christ himself might walk through the door for a spot-check at any moment.
A chef-slave should cook a meal — even for the crankiest customer — as if Jesus were sitting at the table.
Likewise for those of us in ministry. (Sometimes we feel like slaves, don’t we!) If Jesus were at the planning table … if Jesus were in the congregation … if Jesus were going to check my work later … how would I do it right now?
So then, how should my ministry “look,” or “feel”? There’s no correct answer to the “plain or fancy” question. One person is led by the Spirit of God to present a modest, simple product, sensing keenly that this will please the Lord. The next person is led by the same Spirit to present a fabulous marvel — with the same confidence that this is exactly what Jesus will delight in.
The common denominator is hearing from God … and pursuing that God-given vision with fervor, insisting on excellence within the parameters of God’s dream for my ministry.
People have different tastes, and they tend to gravitate toward ministries with tastes similar to their own. But regardless of taste, people respond to excellence — to the sensation that someone cared enough to give an effort their best. The excellent program you produced for radio or television, the excellent church service you prepared for Sunday morning, the excellent spreadsheet you presented at the ministry marketing meeting … each one makes the unspoken statement: “I did this for my Lord.” And that level of quality — the passion for God that generated it — draws people. It’s uncommon in our world. People notice. And the one they notice isn’t me … it’s Jesus.
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… God, I give you my work. I give you my ministry. Help me to see the face of Jesus in those I’m serving. Inspire me to give you my best; strengthen me for the sake of offering you something excellent, something worthy of you. I thank you, my Father. I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.