God has called his people to do many extravagant things.
The Bible is filled of stories where God has raised up people to do great exploits for Him and to show His glory. Some of the names that inspire me the most would be Paul the Apostle, who turned the Greco-Roman world upside down, or Elijah, who confronted the ‘world religions’ of his day by demonstrations of power and spiritual authority. And contemporary’s Christendom is not short of such inspirational stories as well. People whose ministries inspire me most would be Billy Graham, Mike Bickle, Jaeson Ma, Allen Hood, and many others.
But believe it or not, for some reason this week, the thought of these great people actually brought discouragement to me.
Allow me to explain…
I became discouraged when I began thinking about how successful their ministries were and how un-successful my ‘ministry’ has been. I saw how these people affected such great masses of people all over the world and are clearly are on the forefront of moving God’s purposes in our generation in a very significant way. And then I saw the “smallness” of my network. (I know it’s cringing to read this, but I promise it gets better) I saw their courage, their spiritual power, and their authority in the Body of Christ and saw how much of those things I lacked. I read about how many people these people have led to Christ and how many I haven’t. In short, I saw how big their ministries were and became disappointed and how small my ‘ministry’ is.
If we’re honest with ourselves, I think people serving in ministry at some point think about these thoughts. We think about how big our church and the extent of our influence in comparison to others. We honor those in the body who have greater influence over those who don’t. We put the word “career” into conversations about serving the Lord (which, by the way, we should never do) and apply worldly measurements of success to such a holy calling.
And when I began doing that, what happens to people when ungodly ideas infect them began happening to me: discouragement sank in. But praise the Lord. Christ was gracious to me in that hour. And this is what He said to me:
Phil, it’s not about the size of your ministry, it’s about the size of your heart.
He demonstrated this revelation by reminding me of one of his most favorite people in the Bible: David. He asked me to count up the number of miracles David did.
I did. David did not perform a single miracle.
And so He continued reminding me that his measurement of success is so different than the world’s measurement of success.
Even in the path of ministry, the temptation of wanting get our name in lights is so strong. But it’s funny how God doesn’t look at that at all. What we think should move God doesn’t move Him as much as we think. We think stadiums full and large and loud ministries move Him, and they do, but so much less than what’s going on in the insides of people. God is moved more by the response of the human heart in love towards Him.
If there’s a calling that God has given me, if there is an endeavor I am convicted now to succeed in. It is not pursuing influence in the Body of Christ, it is not having a large church, it is not having as many people know who Phil Chan is, but it is the calling of having an extravagant love for Jesus Christ.
He is not looking for how big my ministry career is; he is looking for how big my affections are for Him. He’s looking for how quickly I’ll obey Him. He’s looking at how I gaze at Him every morning. He’s looking at how I pour out my affections and my trust to Him. He’s observing how I love others and bend my knees before them.
I was looking for everything externally; God was looking for everything internally.
To a great extent, I also realize that I don’t have too much control over the outcome of the ministry of my life. Psalm 75 says “For not from the east or the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” God is in control of who is in charge and who isn’t. A quick observation in the life of Joseph would demonstrate that fact. Only God could bring a boy sold to slavery to have the second highest position in the Egypt.
In the same way, God knows the places he will exalt me to and the places where he won’t. Who am I to say where I am to go?
But the one thing I can control is the decisions I make to demonstrate and to grow my love for Jesus. And today, I choose to not worry about ‘my ministry’, but only to run hard in the calling that God has given me: the calling of having an extravagant love for Jesus.