In the current wave of a few great books, Christians have been encouraged to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the poor and the orphans. And this is a call that was needed! But I can’t help but wonder if, in the enthusiasm of stepping up and out of our comfort zones, we haven’t forgotten something–
There are still ministries here that are well worth our time and efforts. There are still jobs right here in small-town America (or wherever you are, for that matter) that need doing. They should not be viewed as second class or unimportant in our eyes. Things like–
-Teaching Sunday School to children. Teaching children about God’s Word is so imperative in a time where Sunday School may be the only place children ever hear about God. I have heard many testimonies of adults who became saved through a Sunday School teacher’s ministry. This job can never be underestimated.
-Taking care of elderly parents, or grandparents, or aunt, or church members. Many of us have elderly people in our lives. Let’s not forget them in our excitement to minister in other, more “impressive” ways. I have a feeling that they may get pretty lonely. Many of them have lost their spouses, their friends, their brothers and sisters. They have doctor appointments that they may need help getting to or may need help with some housework or repairs. Sometimes just visiting can be a big boost to their spirits. Especially if we take some little children along.
-Opening up our homes to others. Paul tells us in Romans 12:13 that we are to be given to hospitality. Do you open up your home to the friends of your children? Or to your church group? Or to anyone outside your small circle of family or friends? If so, then you are doing some important work for the Lord. Teens need a good place to hang out. Meeting for a meal in a home is a great way to get to know other church members on a much more personal level. Perhaps there is an unsaved family that you know well enough to have them over for a meal. It is easier to discuss spiritual matters in a home than beside a soccer field or baseball diamond.
-Serving at our church by cleaning up or serving in the nursery or helping in the kitchen or doing the lawn or organizing activities or anything else that helps keep the church running smoothly. We cannot discredit these services. They are often done with little, if any, reward. They have no glamour attached to them and are viewed as unimportant jobs, kept deep in the shadows of the bigger stuff – like adopting orphans or working tirelessly to feed the poor. But they are jobs that someone has to do to keep a church running smoothly and functioning so that church members can grow both spiritually and closer as a church body.
-Ministering in the place we find ourselves most often–the workplace. Your workplace may be your home. Teaching your children about God is a very important work. Or it may be that you find yourself surrounded by unbelievers in an office, or in a restaurant, or on a construction crew. All of these workplaces will lead to ample opportunities to show that you live by different standards and to share the gospel. Or perhaps you are a teacher. Questions from students can lead to some great discussions. I can think of a few teachers who have really come alongside my husband and me in encouraging our kids in their walk with the Lord. What a blessing!
-Serving right here, right now. I have a friend that visits an inner city classroom each week to help children with their school work. I have another friend that teaches public school children about God for an hour each week through a special program. I have another friend that has taught English to foreigners. I have a friend who faithfully teaches a Bible study to other women. I also have friends who work hard at spotting needs that need to be met and then do their best to meet them. Each of these individuals saw an opportunity to minister and then stepped up to be the one to fill the need.
That’s just a very incomplete list of things we can do to serve the Lord in our lives in a practical way. Let’s not forget that the Lord has placed you where you are for a reason. And your job is to find out what that is. Where does the Lord want you to serve? It may be that you are called to foreign service or to adopt an orphan. But it also may be that you are called to build up the church body by serving there on the board or in the Sunday School classroom. It may be that you are a great cook and have a gift for making people feel cared for through the wonderful food you prepare.
May we not grow discouraged as many of us labor in the shadow of the “big stuff”. Let’s do whatever we are called to do to the best of our ability. Always. Knowing that we are serving the Lord and it is all for His glory.
Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for[a] you serve the Lord Christ.