The Work of the People

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Expectations in Ministry

9/24/2013

Expectations in Ministry

When you enter into your place of worship for work, rehearsals, services, or any other event we tend to have certain expectations as to what we are about to experience.  Regardless of whether or not they are good or bad they are there and often times we become disappointed when they aren’t met or ironically, when they are met and we still find ourselves wanting.  As God calls us to a worship or a devotion that changes the world around us, like a flashlight illuminating the dark places, we have to ask the question “What am I expecting?” Do we walk in expecting miracles to happen that day?  Do we enter the office daily expecting transformation to take place?  Do we wake up Sunday mornings expecting God to meet with us in a very real way?  As we execute discipline, ritual, ceremony, and liturgy on a regular basis the danger can be that such action, that was designed to provide a fresh breath of the Father’s indwelling, can turn into a religious routine completely devoid of passion and nuance.  Through that process our standards become increasingly lowered as we come into the actual presence of the sancifying Spirit less and less which carries us into the safe zone of comfortable religion.  It is in this place that our expectations are rarely challenged.

Jesus says many things that absolutely wreck me and blow me away, but John 14:12 constantly leaves my heart astounded.  “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will do the works that I do.  And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”  It is easy for us as educated ministers of worship to disregard truth that even comes close to resembling emotional sensationalism but the issue is our Savior said it.  My soul is haunted by the influx of doubt that arises when I notice that it is Jesus that is supposed to be the focus of my worship leading and yet I still believe deep down that our attempts that particular day won’t mean a thing or come close to His expectations let alone ours. As those doubts rise it seems that the arguments, unreliability, pride, and political maneuvering that we experience daily becomes to take over our thought processes.  As a result our expectations our tainted and we start planning worship based on those things that plague us instead of the amazing words of our Savior. 

Maybe the issue lies in the fact that the works Jesus accomplished in this world mainly took place outside of the temple or religious instituations of the day.  I know for me it is easy to get so caught up in the work of the church that I forget the biggest way that I lead people in worship is by living it out in my daily life, outside of the church walls.  So many times my expectations of God fall flat because through the example I set in my own life I am automatically setting the bar so low that any success still feels mundane and mind numbingly normal.  We preach living and breathing scripture, we sing of the miracle and power of the glory of God yet we never really expect it to breach into their daily life because it hasn’t manifested itself in that way in our own lives. 

 “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”  I don’t know about you, but I want my expectations for worship, corporately and individually, to reflect this.  Our worship has to move past the job part of our life into the very fabric of our existance.  More often than not it can be worship pastors who struggle most with James 1:19-27 because we forget that it is in the actual doing that genuine worship produces where we experience life in our lifeless spirits.  It boils down to what are our expectations for worship and devotion in our own individual lives.  I never want to short change God by having expecations lower than He has called us all to, let alone lower than He deserves.  Whether in my life or in my death, I want to expect Christ to work and use me so that His name might be glorified.  I want to expect the impossible for God makes the impossible probable, and I want to live my life like I whole heartedly believe this.  If your expectations for ministry aren’t being met then maybe there is a disconnect between how you worship and plan for Sunday morning and how you worship and live Christ on a daily basis.  If your expectations for ministry are being met, then maybe it’s time that you raise them so that God can not only take you deeper, but the congregation He has placed you over as well. 

“You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.” – Romans 8:9-11

Do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying to go out everyday expecting intense, emotional experiences.  I am talking about the expectation of genuine life transformation, of genuine victory, of miracles that could only come from His power, or chains to be broken, or the dead to rise, or the Holy Spirit to use us to prophesy, heal, and preach the Word in His name.  How disappointing would it be if our faith was the sum of one emotional high leading to the next emotional high? We don’t want that for our churches so why chase after that in our own lives?  God is calling us to deeper places of substance. According to scripture, He has incredible expectations for His people.  Listen closely as God speaks to you about His expectations for your life and ministry.

Rev. Matthew Short

Matt currently serves as the Associate Pastor of Worship Arts and Young Adults at Jasper First Church of the Nazarene.