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What is Ministry?

Yesterday was one of those days where you never stop, moving on from one thing to the next, to the next, switching mode and mood, and doing whatever is needful.

It began with a one hour dental appointment to have some fillings replaced (my mouth was not happy to be open for so long!).  Next was a quick train ride out of town to lead a Home Communion for a lovely couple, trying not to drool or to slur too many words in the process!  Back on the train to the city centre and a quick lunch (my mouth now more or less thawed out) before my regular Pastoral Supervision meeting.  A lift to the south of the river for an important technical meeting.  Then back to the city centre and on a train home to grab tea and then make a Peer Support phone call.

What is ministry?  This was the question raised by my Supervisor, partly in response to her recognition that I spend a lot of time on practical, buildings matters, surely this wasn't what I anticipated/imagined when I started out. 

My response was two-fold really.

The first is that I still don't know what ministry is, what ministers do - I know what I do, what my ministry looks like, but how that compares with any definition or model, I really don't know.

The second (although I voiced it first) is that I do see all this as part of my ministry, that I use skills and knowledge, experience and insights from my past employment, etc. within this role.  That the ministry to which God has called me is the ministry for which I am also equipped; that ministry is simply about the intent with which those gifts and skills are employed, viz in the service of God.

My Supervisor recalled a line from a hymn, and after a few minutes the context was recalled.  Like so many old hymns, it carries important truths of which we need to be reminded:

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.

All may of thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture, 'For thy sake'
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
Makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

George Herbert (1593-1633 NS)

Ministry is all the things I do, and more than the sum of any of them.


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