I was scared when I first entered the ministry. I hadn’t been a pastor before. I hadn’t been to seminary. I did not have any formal training and I did not have a mentor when I started. I had a sense of calling, a love for Jesus, and a desire to make disciples. It’s probably more accurate to say that I wanted to help fix people, not make disciples. I wasn’t able to identify the underlying motivation to fix people until later in my ministry experience.
It took me some time, but I eventually realized that I can’t fix anything in anyone’s life. I cannot heal broken hearts. I can’t bring peace or joy. I can’t be present with folks in every circumstance. I cannot reconcile two human beings much less reconcile people to God. I just don’t have that kind of power. Nobody does. Only Jesus can do those things.
Let me give you an example. During my first week in ministry, I had to go to the hospital to visit someone who was very sick and had been since before I arrived at the church. I was in a new church and in a new community. I didn’t know anyone. I had not met the person I was going to visit. I had never made a hospital visit before. The person I visited was in pretty bad shape and there was some uncertainty about whether or not the person was going to make it. It was a heartbreaking room to be in. I was out of my depth and I knew it. Ministry needs to happen whether we are comfortable or not.
We exchanged pleasantries, I shared some scripture, and I offered a prayer. I was nervous because I wanted to say the right things. I wanted to be an encouragement to the family. I really wanted to fix it for everyone in the room. I realized at that moment that I was powerless. There was nothing to say or do that was going to fix what was happening. I couldn’t heal the person. I couldn’t give wisdom to the doctors. I couldn’t be a lasting source of comfort to the family. I could not provide peace. I was no rock, refuge, or shelter in the midst of suffering. However, I could point them to the one who could do those things. I could point them to Jesus
That moment in the hospital room became a defining time in my ministry. Ministry isn’t about fixing things or people. Ministry is pointing people to the one does fix things. It is equipping people to look to Jesus for love, healing, peace, comfort, and all the other things that we need as human beings. I have nothing of longterm, life-altering significance to offer someone apart from Jesus.
24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect[g] in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. – Colossians 1:24-28
The same thing is true for all of us. We all have people in our lives that are in need. We love people that are experiencing brokenness, pain, grief, and sickness. We can’t fix that. We can be present. We can pray. We can point people to the one who can transform lives in the midst of these things. We can and should point them to Jesus.
Questions for reflection:
- Who do you know that is hurting right now that needs Jesus? Are you trying to fix things for them or are you pointing them to Jesus?
- What areas of your own life might you be trying to fix on your own apart from Jesus?
- What are the consequences of trying to fix things on our own apart from Jesus?
- What is your source of comfort and peace in the midst of tragedy and suffering?