Different Kinds of Working
Not too long ago I was asked to train someone to be a hospice chaplain. The individual shadowed me as I visited my hospice patients. So I took them around to some of my patients who reside in facilities, some of whom are burdened with cognitive challenges, such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some have lost the ability to communicate altogether. During the visits I went about my business as usual. Since some of the patients could not communicate, I used music therapy and sang hymns (not necessarily well). For my atheist patient, we sat and watched the animal channel together and commented on the cute dogs. I chatted about herbs and oils with my Native American patient who holds to the beliefs of her tribe. I held the hand of a non-verbal and unresponsive patient. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good, productive day and I had shown the trainee a well-rounded view of hospice chaplaincy.
Two days later, my trainee resigned.
When asked why, the trainee responded that they wanted to do ministry - the deep, hard work of saving souls and discipling people for Christ. They hadn’t expected that a great number of the patients would be non-verbal, or otherwise unable to engage in these sorts of conversations, and flat out said that what I was doing, with my hymns and veterinarian shows, was not ministry in their opinion.
Feeling glum, I was directed to 1 Corinthians 12, particularly verse 4-6, which read “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirits distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God.”
This trainee’s vision (and likely gifted-ness) for ministry was to evangelize, to make waves, to do big things for the Kingdom! And I hope they do. I hope they go out there and God uses them to spread the Gospel further than ever. What I do, however, is no less important, and neither is what you do. Maybe what we do this week won’t be televised or written up in a Christian magazine, but anything that is done for God is no less important. Maybe our ministry this week will be to share the Gospel with a crowd and have hundreds of them come forward to receive Christ. Wonderful! Praise God! Maybe it will be to bring food to a sick neighbor, to check on a friend we haven’t heard from in a while, or even just to sit and watch TV with someone who is lonely. Wonderful! Praise God!
There are different gifts, and different kinds of service, but it takes all of them together to further the Kingdom of God. When we serve one another, we are doing ministry. No service, when done for God, no matter how seemingly small, is unimportant. Every act of love and service has value, meaning, and eternal implications. May all of our ministries, whatever they are, be blessed and fruitful this week.