In this series of posts, I’m looking at “ministry” (“service”) – the two terms actually come from the same Greek term: διακονία (diakonia). In my introductory post “What is ministry?“, I said that I was planning to examining the basic nature of ministry (service).
In the next post – “The basic aspects of ministry (service)” – I suggested that there are three basic parts of any type of service: 1) Service is provided by an individual or group. 2) Service is received by an individual or group. 3) Service is a need recognized (as a need) by the receiving individual or group.
So far, I’ve talked about any type of service. But, when we turn to the New Testament, we’re primarily interested in a new type of service – a service that is done in Jesus’ name, empowered by the Holy Spirit. There are certainly differences in this type of service. However, we should remember that it remains “service” at its base.
So, what’s different about this kind of service?
Ministry (service) in Jesus’ name is still a form of service. Thus, it is still performed by one person (or group) in order to fulfill a real need of another person (or group). And, just like normal service, the person(s) being served recognizes the need being fulfilled as a real need. The person giving the service cannot make that decision.
But, there are big differences. For one thing, when serving others in Jesus’ name, the motivation is different. There are many ways to say it (many ways that the authors of Scripture say it): loving God, loving others, trusting God, obeying God, following Jesus, being led by the Spirit, etc. But, they all boil down to one thing: God motivates the service; he is the reason that the service is being done. Even though there is a real need, the person(s) perform the service because of God.
Beyond the motivation, there is also an extended purpose for serving in Jesus’ name. While the service (if it is service) does meet a need recognized by the person being served, there is also an additional purpose in serving in Jesus’ name. That purpose is to see others know Jesus and to grow or mature in him.
But remember, even if this different motivation and this different purpose is present, the person may not be serving someone else if the basic aspects of service are not met as well. This does not mean that the action is not valid or good, but it may not be service.
We’re doing a disservice (pun intended) when we call something “ministry” or “service” when no one is actually being served.