I once attended a seminar conducted by Dr. Shelley Trebesch, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, that really opened my eyes to the difference between the ministry of doing as opposed to the ministry of being. In attendance were top ministry leaders of my denomination who came from all over the globe to attend this seminar in Tagaytay, north of Manila. I forgot now what year it was but maybe in the year 2000. Dr. Trebesch also came all the way from the US to conduct that seminar.
Striving for Excellence to be Saved
Having grown up in a church where doing good works for salvation was once of great importance, it was just but natural for me to focus on performance—on doing the very best I can—for the Lord. Striving for excellence was the thing to do. I’m not saying it’s bad to strive for excellence. In fact, Paul said that we have been created in Christ to do good works (Eph. 2:10). But I gained a little bit more wisdom when Dr. Trebesch began to explain what she meant in the context of personal growth and development of a person.
Ministry of Doing
She described the “ministry of doing” as that kind of ministry where you do things for the sake of doing it. But your heart is not really in it. It’s a busy life of doing a lot of things—lots of activities—because there’s a lot of ministry goals that need to be accomplished or there are lots of things that need to be done. As she began to explain it, I thought about my situation back then as a full-time pastor (I’m now retired). A pastor’s daily schedule of activities can be quite challenging and overwhelming at times. And this applies to other ministry workers and missionaries as well. And if we do ministry without a heart, this can wear a person out in the long run and may be a cause for ministry burnout especially when the person turns out to be a “square peg in a round hole.” Are you in the ministry where you ought to belong right now? Or are you just going through the motions because you have to? This can be a real cause of much stress, frustration and heartaches.
Ministry of Being
The “ministry of being” on the other hand is different, according Dr. Trebesch. You do things because you love to do it. You love to do things because it reflects just who you are. That’s your “being.” Or, you’re just being who you really are. You love to do it because that’s who you are inside out. It’s you and you’re not just faking it or going through the motions. You’re not forced to do it because you need to do it. You’re not just busy for the sake of keeping busy. You love to do it because you enjoy doing it. It’s a ministry with a heart, with a purpose and with love. You minister to others based on who you are in Jesus Christ. You enjoy doing it. You love to do it and you love building relationships with others. That’s who you are—your being in Jesus Christ. That where your heart is. That’s the ministry of being.
Understanding the difference between the ministry of doing as opposed to the ministry of being was kind of liberating for me. It’s good to know that I do things because I like to do it because that’s who I am in Jesus Christ. I gained a little bit more wisdom during that seminar many years ago.