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Relational Ministry

Philippians 2:23-24
I hope, therefore, to send him [Timothy] as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. (NIVUK)

Some churches mimic corporate business in the scale and complexity of their programmes.  And it may be necessary.  Larger or more diverse ministry settings demand a higher degree of organisation in order to get the right people in the right place at the right time.  But there is a dangerous illusion which lurks in the shadow of that style.  Bigger and busier does not always mean more blessing.  God's blessing is a mark of His relationship with us and comes through people, brothers and sisters who He sends in Christ's Name (Isaiah 65:23), rather than projects and buildings.  The people are the church.  Without them, there is no organic church where people are joined to each other (Romans 12:4-5), and to the Lord, by love (Ephesians 4:15-16).

Paul longed to send Timothy back to the church in Greece at the right time (Philippians 2:19-22).  He had an inner confidence, from the Holy Spirit, that he would soon be released from prison, but Paul did not want to presume the course of his future.  He wanted to see what the Lord would do, and how He would lead.  Then, Timothy would have really encouraging news for the Philippians, which would strengthen them to keep steadfast as followers of Jesus (Philippians 1:19-26).  

How wise!  And how timely a reminder this might be in our busy world ... to stop, reflect and wait and see how God will move His hand (Psalm 27:14).  Faith is essential, but rash presumption owes more to the inner urges of fleshly impulses (Proverbs 6:16-19), than to the quiet voice of the Spirit.  Many do not know how to wait watchfully: instead they either rush about frenetically or they just disconnect and sleep.  The message from Gethsemane is, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:38).  Alas the disciples failed; but we do not have to copy them.  The steadying art of watching how God is at work in His world is always a humbling experience, especially to the impetuous Christian.  Praying will prevent us from rushing ahead in anxiety so that we miss God's sovereign appointments while we substitute our own futile ideas (Philippians 4:6).

This is not just a ministry matter, for those who 'work for the church'.  This is a Christian lifestyle issue; and may be as critical in the hospital and hotel as in the mission office.  It is one of the great spiritual disciplines, without which much energy will be spent uselessly, and many hours wasted without any benefit (Psalm 37:7).  The time to start is today, and the place to start is where you are right now.  Stop, watch and pray: if you have a workplace fellowship - share this and perhaps agree to be accountable to each other as well as to the Lord, keeping each other from fretting or sleeping.  Instead, encourage each other to watch and wait for the Lord to show the way and the timing.

Dear Lord God. Thank You that You are able to fulfil Your purpose in Your time. Please forgive my habit of deciding what is the right time, event, project, relationship and funding - without stopping to watch what You are doing; or to pray. Help me to take even a little time today to watch what is happening and to commit it to You before I rush off to futility or disaster. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams