Rick Warren: Pastor, What You Do Matters

“You are a blessing to your congregation, and even though they may not see all the things you do as their pastor, God does.”

Pastor, you were created by God to serve your congregation. What he told the prophet Jeremiah is also true for you: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jer. 1:5).

God redeemed you so you could do his holy work. In God’s kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role and a function to fulfill, and this gives your life great significance and special value, no matter how discouraged you may feel right now. You are not God’s child by this service, but as God’s child you were created for this service.

The Bible says, “You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you” (1 Peter 2:9). Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling. In some churches in China, they welcome new believers by saying, “Jesus now has a new pair of eyes with which to see, a new set of ears for listening, two new hands for which to help and a new heart for loving others.”

You’re not only the eyes, ears, hands and heart of Jesus among your congregation—you also have the crucial role of helping the people in your care to become the eyes, ears, hands and heart of Jesus.

Your leadership is desperately needed in the Body of Christ, and no matter where you serve, it is a critical outpost for advancing God’s kingdom. Each of us has a role to play and every role is important. There is no small or insignificant service to God; it all matters.

Likewise, there are no insignificant ministries in the Body of Christ. Some are visible and some are behind the scenes, but all are valuable. Small or hidden ministries often make the biggest difference.

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Let me illustrate it this way—in my home, the most important light is not the large chandelier in our dining room but the little night light that keeps me from stubbing my toe when I get up at night. There is no correlation between size and significance. Your ministry matters because it matters to God, and you are crucial to the Body of Christ because we’re all dependent on each other.

Jesus taught that we should maintain an attitude of service no different from his own, for the Messiah “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give [his] life.” Jesus came “to serve” and “to give”—and those two verbs should define your life on earth, too.

Jesus taught that spiritual maturity is never an end in itself, but rather that maturity is for ministry! In the same way, your position as pastor should never become an end in itself—as if you have arrived. Rather, it is a heavenly calling to wash the feet of those around you, serving those in your congregation and your community at large.

We grow up in Christ in order to give out. It is not enough to keep learning more and more about the Bible or the latest church growth technique—certainly these are good things—but we must act on what we know and practice what we claim to believe. Some of us know the streets of ancient Jerusalem better than we know the streets of our own hometown, and that’s an indicator that we’re out of balance when it comes to serving those around us.

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Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation. The old comparison between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea is still true: Galilee is a lake full of life because it takes in water but also gives it out; in contrast, nothing lives in the Dead Sea because, with no outflow, the lake has stagnated. Can you see the logic of God’s intent? If you want greater spiritual maturity and wisdom, you need to be pouring what you already know into the lives of others! Why would God pour more maturity and wisdom into a stagnate reservoir?

Following the same thought, the last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study; they already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are opportunities to serve—where they can exercise their spiritual muscles. Your example will teach the members of your congregation to shift from an attitude of “serve us” to “service.” You’ll teach them to no longer say, “I want a church that meets my needs and blesses me.” Instead, they’ll learn to say, “I want a place to serve and be a blessing.”

You are a blessing as you serve your congregation, and even though they may not see all the things you do as their pastor, God does—and he is pleased to have you as his eyes, ears, hands and heart.

This article was originally published on the Pastors.com blog.

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Rick Warren

Rick Warren, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church and the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life. He built the Purpose Driven Network, a global alliance of pastors from 162 countries and hundreds of denominations who have been trained to be purpose driven churches. He also founded Pastors.com, an online interactive community that provides sermons, forums and other practical resources for pastors. Rick Warren and his wife Kay are passionate about global missions and what he calls “attacking the five global giants” of poverty, disease, spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership and illiteracy. His solution, The PEACE Plan, is a massive effort to mobilize Christians around the world into an outreach effort to attack these problems by promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation.