I didn’t grow up in a cookie-cutter track home in the suburbs (like the one I live in now). I grew up in a craftsman home. I understand that the term craftsman refers to a particular styleof house today, but that’s not what I have in mind.
What I mean is that my two-story, four-bedroom home was built by a master builder—a true journeyman. Our family only knew him by the name “Preacher Farris.” I have no idea who “Preacher Farris” was. I don’t know if his sermons were any good. And I don’t know if he was a Baptist, a Methodist, or a Pentecostal preacher.
All I know is that every time his name came up in conversation, my parents and neighbors would comment on his skills as a builder.
And my house showed all the evidence of his workmanship—the hardwood floors, the trim, the siding, the handcrafted porch swing and the wrap-around porch with white columns and the shiplap ceiling…
And while it’s smaller than I remember it, I knew growing up that I lived in a one-of-a-kind home—a work of pure craftsmanship.
You’re a Real Piece of Work
Paul told the Ephesian Christians “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). The word for “workmanship” is the word poiema and it means “craftsmanship” or “handiwork.”
Assembly line workers build things in a manner of speaking. Sure they can assemble some prefab parts on the production line. But craftsmen don’t just assemble prefabricated things—they build unique things. They bring their expertise, their eye for detail, and their artistry to the project.
And Paul says that a master builder, a heavenly tradesman has uniquely designed and made us.
You are God’s handiwork. And God made you to accomplish great things, big or small, for His Kingdom. And you can do this only when you discover, develop, and deploy your Spiritual gifts in the Church.
You Are a Minister
If one of your coworkers asked you to perform a wedding for them—how would you respond to that?
You’d probably wonder “What about me makes them think that I’m a minister?” You might think that they were just playing a practical joke on you. Or maybe they found out you were a Christian and decided to poke little fun at you. But seriously? You? A Minister?
This hypothetical example serves to show just how far the American concept of a “minister” has strayed from biblical teaching.
If you are a believer in Jesus you are a minister. You may never have preached a sermon, delivered a eulogy, or dunked a new convert in a baptismal tank. But the Scriptures teach that ministry is for every member of the Church. While there are specialized roles that require a high level of leadership (involving pastoring, missions and evangelism), God has equipped every believer to serve His family.
We accomplish the mission of the Church through ministry. And ministry is for everyone.
The master designed us all for some kind of service in the Church. Whether it’s missions and evangelism or teaching training children godly values, we all have a ministry design plan that is waiting for us. And it comes straight from God’s heart. But how do you discover the tools he’s placed in your life to grow and minister in his Kingdom? How do you then deploy and launch into that ministry once you’ve found your talents and gifts? This isn’t exhaustive, but here are a few pointers on that…
First, understand that your calling as a minister is a settled matter. I’d recommend reading what Paul has to say to the Ephesian Christians, particularly in Eph. 4. There, Paul teaches that the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors who are teachers is to equip the “saints” for the work of ministry. Who are the saints he’s referring to there? Well, they aren’t dead people who have reached “sainthood” in the Catholic sense. Saint veneration is a distortion of what Paul taught. Paul used the term “saints” most often to refer to everyone in the Church. So, if you’re a believer, you’re a saint. And if you’re a saint, Paul says, your pastor should be equipping you for the work of ministry.
Second, you should be informed about spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul told the Corinthians, “Now about spiritual gifts, I would not have you ignorant.” I recently taught a room full of Christians who were there to learn about their spiritual gifts. I asked the class for a show of hands if they had been taught something about spiritual gifts before. Out of the 40 or so people in that room, only about 5 raised their hands. I was shocked. Most of them were self-identified Christians who grew up in Church. Yet, they had never been taught about the nature and operation of spiritual gifts. Paul told the Corinthians that he didn’t want them to be ignorant or uninformed about the gifts because it’s how God builds the Kingdom. So, decided that you are going to learn all you can about how they work and how to identify them in your life.
Third, we should eagerly desire spiritual gifts. Paul told the Corinthians that they should have a keen expectancy for spiritual gifts, and not only that, but should seek those abilities that build others up in public gatherings.
Fourth, we should be open to both native, and non-native abilities. A native gift is like administration. It’s doubtful that Paul would have used this term in Rom. 12 if he thought that all gifts had to be supernatural endowments. People with the gift of administration typically come into the body of Christ already administratively gifted. In that case, God simply has to baptize or sanctify (set apart) that innate ability for his Kingdom. The same is true with gifts of service or generosity or hospitality. These gifts are most common in the Church because they are abilities that people typically bring with them into the Christian faith. That said, you should open your heart to non-native abilities. These could be anything that the Lord wants to pour into your life. They are gifts that you didn’t have before you became a believer and now the Spirit is bestowing them upon you.
For example, I came into the Church already very talkative–bold–fearless. And so God has used those gifts and baptized them into his service as a preacher, evangelist, and pastor. But the Spirit had to give me a voracious hunger for knowledge growth, a gift I had zero interest in when I came into the body of Christ. My gift of knowledge is like a faucet that I can’t shut off. But before the Spirit poured it into me, I had absolutely no inclination for it. None (to this day, people that I grew up with who knew me before my conversion marvel that I have even a college degree, let alone all the other ones).
God is a master builder who wants to make something amazing out of your life. He has a ministry design plan just for you. And that ministry will only be effective if you discover, develop, and deploy your spiritual gifts.
- Dr. J.