From a tape by Mark Rutland



Lay people have the tendency to turn off the moment "The Ministry" is mentioned. Ministry has nothing to do with rather artificial distinctions in the kingdom of God, like who is ordained and who isnít. The accepted distinction the Clergy and Laity is not a new testament reality. Someone said that the only difference between the clergy and the laity is that the clergy gets paid to be good and the laity is good for nothing.

Whether you get paid to be good or you are good for nothing, you have a ministry. One of the problems is that ministry has been referred to as "The Ministry". People are called into the ministry, my son went into the ministry. You might want to use the Clergy, but the ministry is wrong. The use of the article, "the" with the word ministry has skewed our view of what it means to be a Christian. I do not believe that ministry is optional. Once you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior, ministry is not optional. From that point, it only depends on if you are effective in your ministry.

While preparing for a book, I was thinking about some terms we use rather glibly. I was thinking about anointing. I know what anointing is - donít you? I know when someone is preaching under the anointing. I can tell almost instantly when I am not preaching under anointing. Tell me in 25 words or less what anointing is. It was when I began to try to formalize some things which that I sensed at a rather visceral level or an intuitive level rather than being able to intellectualize some of these things that I began to stumble. I realized that there were a whole lot of things that I said all of the time that I didnít really feel comfortable with.

One of these terms was ministry. What do I believe about ministry? When am I doing ministry and when am I not? So I began to search for a workable model of ministry and of course oneís thoughts and mind turn almost instantly to the book of Acts. The problem with that is that there are people there doing ministry based of the role model they learned elsewhere which is the ministry of Jesus. One is forced behind the book of Acts, because in the book of Acts, people are beginning to do what He both did and thought. In the book of Acts, people are living out a ministry style they saw in Jesus.

So you go behind the book of Acts, to the gospel accounts. One asks oneself, when did Jesus think that He was doing ministry? How did He comprehend ministry? There are many scriptures which give us some insight, but none had so many implications for us, the common soldier of the line as the "Woman at the well".

John 4:16 NASB He said^ to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."

17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said^ to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband';

18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly."

19 The woman said^ to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

20 "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."

21 Jesus said^ to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father.

22 "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

25 The woman said^ to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us."

26 Jesus said^ to her, "I who speak to you am He."

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?"

28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said^ to the men,

29 "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?"

30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

The woman went to men and you sense that many of them may have been involved. She did not go to the women, since they were probably not involved.

There are some immediate insights when we begin to consider the issue of finding our ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. The first is this: Jesus did not see ministry as being confined to some prearranged religious context. In fact the greater portion of Jesusí ministry was not conducted in a religious content at all. In corn fields, on hill sides, on street corners, in taverns -- where people were is where Jesus saw ministry happen. If we are going to be in the stream of Jesus, if we are going to conduct ministry in the flow of the power of Jesus, we must have the intellectual view of ministry that Jesus had. We must pry ministry out of the mind set that ministry can only happen when we get together and do church.

Until we do that, we will remain in the kind of bondage with which the Pharisees struggled. The major problem that the Pharisees had with Jesus was not that He worked miracles, but that He would not play the religious game. He could have worked all of the miracles He wanted had He played their game. The miracles were not couched in terms that pacified their lust for religion. If He had worn the right robe and had the right kind of tassels and followed the right kind of rituals and then worked the miracles, then there would have been a pharassical stamp of approval.

He broke and ate corn on the Sabbath without washing His hands. He denied the grasp of cultural religion and then worked the miracles. This was directly opposed to the cultural thinking that ministry, that which is spiritual is what happens in a prearranged religious context.

Jesus saw ministry as happening everywhere there was people. You have ministry every time you go to the job, school, the barber shop, etc. Every time your life rubs up against other lives, there is the possibility for ministry to break through at any moment. In fact, this is one of the great challenges of seeking ministries in the Holy Spirit, if we ask God to make us open to the possibilities of ministries at a moments notice.

One of the great challenges that Jesus faced was to be sensitive to what was happening all of the time. I have tried to come up with some kind of a functional model of Jesus and I offer one to you now.

No offense intended, but this is a very secular model. Not being a clever man, it is easier for me if I can see a picture of something, rather than just a word concept. An illustration if you will.

What great term comes to mind when you begin to try to comprehend the character of Jesusí ministry? Loving, kind, tender, there are many. What was it that set His ministry apart from every other ministry that we have been in contact with? The word that comes to me is sensitivity. Jesus was the most sensitive man that ever lived. This was the reason that Jesus had such a precious ministry with women. He lacked the high handed male arrogance that haunts so many contemporary ministries. He seemed to be sensitive and gentle. Lets see if we can think on this sensitivity and get a model of it.

Visualize if you will of a satellite in orbit, between earth and a more distant space station. This satellite has on it, two unidirectional antenna. One is pointed toward a transmitter on the space station and one is pointed toward a transmitter on the earth. It is receiving simultaneous signals from both directions. Those signals are being fed into an on-board computer which integrates the two messages and formulates a response and dictates action.

What were the two directions, the twin pinions of sensitivity of Jesusí ministry? On the one hand, He was constantly sensitive to God. He said that which I do is of My Father. I never act, think, speak independently. I am sensitive to what God wants. I am sensitive to where God is taking Me. I am never totally driven by human need. If I could speak to all of the assembled classes in the seminaries today and I could say one thing, it would be: do not allow your ministry to be driven by the power of human need.

In the first place, you cannot meet human need. Until you learn this, you are going to live your life in tremendous levels of frustration. Human need in this universe is a great bottomless vacuum. The pastor cannot meet the needs of his own congregation. You canít meet your spouseís needs. If you live trying to meet your spouseís needs, you are going to live out your marriage in frustration. You cannot meet their needs. They donít even try to meet your needs.

If we are compelled by human need, we become driven, rather than being directed or guided. Our impulse is born more of guilt and condemnation, rather than liberty and the pin point specificity that Jesus received.

Take for example, the story of the resurrection of Lazarous. This story challenges me in the ministry just about as much as any story in the gospel. Jesus is in Atlanta, preaching a crusade. He gets word from Orlando, via a telegram, that His best friend, an elder in His church has been taken with terminal illness and Jesus must catch a plane and come to Orlando straight-a-way. His apostles hand Him the telegram and say let us book a plane and we can be on our way by 2:00. He says, no. We will sit right here while Lazarous dies. Jesus said, Lazarous, even in his hour of need is not the source of My ministry. What is it that Lazarousís sister says the moment He walks in -- if You would have been here, my brother wouldnít have died. Do you think that He wasnít hearing that in the back of His mind, even as He made the decision to tarry where He was.

He said God is calling the shots. He was sensitive to what God wanted at any given moment. If we break off that sensitivity to God, we lose that power of God-directed ministry. We can then be driven by our own lusts, our own desires, our drive to justify ourselves. Many ministries that appear to have great anointing, are driven by the lust to justify themselves. Driven only by the power to meet human needs, to fulfill potential, but it may not be God directed to specific points of contact.

Remember, Jesus, when eulogizing John the Baptist, said that greater than he has never been born of woman, but he that is least in the kingdom shall be greater than John , the Baptist.

(Matthew 11:11 NASB) "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

(Luke 7:28 NASB) "I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

Almost all commentaries will tell you that Jesus is speaking of the position of believers after the resurrection as compared to John, the Baptist who stood at that point as an old testament prophet pointing ahead to the cross. They will tell you that there has never been a greater ministry on earth than that of John, the Baptist, however, after the resurrection, even the least born again Christian will be greater than John, the Baptist.

I donít believe that for a minute. I canít believe thatís what that passage means. I have read it and reread it and studied and prayed over it. First of all, do you believe that John, the Baptist is positional as an old testament prophet? No, it was he who announced the immediate advent of Christ- behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. John, the Baptist is so close to the throne that you and I have no hope of seeing it. Weíll be at the back of the crowd.

Second, Jesus was not in the habit of ranking Christians positionally. Listen again to what He says, "I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

I think that He is saying that he that is least in control of his own ministry is greater than John Baptist. He that is least, is the most subject to God. He that is least bound by his own ego, is the most submitted to Godís will. He that is the least driven by his own pride is the most submitted to Godís power. Only he who has the least of his own ministry will surpass John, the Baptist. I think that He is speaking of Himself. I think that in ministry in the kingdom, the secret to greatness is leastness. The secret of power is powerlessness. The secret of victory is surrender. This is the paradox of Christianity. The impulse that drives and empowers ministries is nothing but one of the central facts of the gospel, that as I surrender to God, I receive His anointed, His ministry, His call.

We saying - My ministry, my church, my thoughts, my will, my direction. We say, God, I have to go hear to do this and that because of this need and that need. I am indispensable in this place and that place. We become driven by that kind of impulse. We can lose the pin-point accuracy of Godís direction. Jesus was sensitive to God.

Another example was at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. The first time I saw it, it shook me. I thought that it was small, like a cattle trough. A small tank. A swimming pool or smaller. If you go there, you will find that it is in levels, descending in huge pools. It stretches a quarter of a mile. It hasnít even been all excavated.

If the legend about the angle stirring the waters and the first one being healed, their would not have been only a few people along its sides. There would have been many. Sick people would have lined its sides for one quarter of a mile. Can you see Jesus stepping over and around sick bodies to reach the one that God directed Him to.

This preacher has spent much time in prayer lines where he has prayed for each one individually. He has done this repeatedly and has not noticed a greater percentage of healings than when he prayed over the entire congregation at once, asking that those who were to be healed that night would receive their healing. The same number of people were healed and he did not have the pent up frustration from all the people who were not healed.

One can stand by each person and say, "come-on God and do thisí, or one can say, "God what do You want to do? If we can discern Godís will, then there is no reason to pray for all of the people whose time it is not. What is translated as the gift of miracles in the new testament, in the Greek actually says, "the focus of power". If one can discern the focus of Godís power at any moment and stand there, can you imagine the wonder.

That is why we must be sensitive to God. On the other hand, there was another aspect to Jesusí ministry. True ministry can never be executed in a vacuum. You cannot isolate yourself from other people. Isnít that strange? We could all be saints of God, if we were not provoked by other people, but there must be other people available so that the will of God can be carried out. As long as we donít have to relate to other people, we rarely sin. It is only when some demonized person cuts in front of us in traffic that we sin. When that happens, we realize that we are not only not sanctified, we are not saved. It is very difficult to pray in tongues when you using you mouth to tell the guy what you think of him.

The people who interfere with our relationships with God are also the outlet for ministry from God. Monks go behind walls in seclusion to find God, but ministry stops. How do you pray with someone if there is no one there? How do you preach to someone, if there is no one there? This is what has happened to the Western Church. The Western Church has closed its doors, lowered the air conditioner and pretends that there is nobody out there. They minister to the choir Sunday after Sunday. We are faced with the question - Do we want all of these other people in our church? The problem is that if we donít have them, we donít have anyone to minister to.

We seem to be turning into a teaching oriented, ministryless charismatic church. We just talk about God and pump each other up and no ministry takes place. Kind of like a Holy Ghost Gymnasium. Is could be compared to a fighter who is always training, but never fights.

Jesus remained open to people. This ivory tower isolation seen in ministry is counter productive. Remember the story of the woman who had been sick for 38 years and who touched the him of Jesusí garment? Jesus was walking down the street on feast day and there were thousands of people surrounding Him, called heal me, touch me, and after the woman touched Him, He stops and asks, "who touched Me"?

Peter answer, Lord are You saying someone touched you. The multitudes surround You and press. Many people have touched you. Jesus says no, "those were accidental contact." There lives rubbed up against Mine because we were in the same area. Thatís what happens in a huge percent of American churches on Sunday mornings. Sunday morning church is a cultural adventure into Never-Never land. It is where we go every Sunday morning and then when we get out, we try to beat the Baptist down to Piccadilly.

If God comes, great. If He doesnít come, thatís O.K., we are still going to do this. Do you see this? But Jesus said that someone had intentionally touched him. How did He know the difference between the casual contact and an intentional touch? He felt power go out of Him to heal the woman. What was killing the woman was that her source of life, blood, was flowing out and what healed her was His power, healing blood, flowing in.

When we cut ourselves off from opportunities to minister to people, we loose what we are about. Sensitive to God, Sensitive to people. There are some risks. This makes us venerable. It is easy to get hurt. If you canít get touched, you canít get hurt.

Another example of the ministry of Jesus is the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus was a dinner party with all the big shots in town. They are reclined on their left elbow, eastern style. Their feet are away from the dinner table. Also eastern style, the doors to the street are opened. In off the street rushes a prostitute. All of these men know her. She rushes in, falls at the feet of Jesus and begins to kiss His feet. The effect would be the same today. If you were at a big shot dinner party and a prostitute comes in off the street and starts kissing your feet, people will think the same. Jesus did not stop her. He didnít withdrawn. What would you have done? You probably would have made her stop and asked what do you think youíre doing? They are going to wonder where we met.

Jesus is sensitive to this womanís needs. She has been used by all men up to now. Simon, the Pharisee, is thinking, "If this man were a real prophet, He would know that this woman who is touching Him is a prostitute". This man is a fraud.

Jesus says, "Simon, I have something to say to you." Simon says, "Master say on". Jesus is sensitive to everything that is going on around him. Many times we rush past times of profound ministry to get to places where we can do ministry. The people closest to us are probably the ones we overlook most often. I canít help you now, Iím on my way to church. How many times in the course of our daily routines, are we compelled past times of divine contact?

After weeks of ministering all over the world, I get to the point where I say that I cannot pray with anyone else. I get on the plane to go home, burnt out. I donít want to hear another story. I donít want to minister anymore. I am ministered out. I get on the plane, sit down and sitting besides me is a traveling salesman who is dead drunk. He start ordering drinks before the plane can take off. He is cursing everything he comes in contact with. Iím thinking to myself, what a miserable excuse for a human being? Why did I have to sit next to this guy? Why didnít I get a Nun from Cleveland?

All of a sudden, he turns to me and he says, "Iím not acting right. A month ago, my daughter was killed in a car crash. Before she died, she told me that she had been born-again and I donít know what it means. What do you think she meant? Every light on my dash board is going off.

Success in ministry is not accomplishing what we want, but doing what God wants done. We may not see the significance of it at the time. We donít have to. If we operate by hearing the voice of God, or by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we are operating under anointing. Anointing always get results. Half the time you have a revival and half the time you have a riot. John, the Baptist was anointed - they cut his head off. Paul the apostle was anointed - they stoned him, beat him and eventually cut his head off. Jesus was anointed - they crucified Him.

Before you begin asking God to anoint you, you must abandon yourself to the results. When Jesus was ministering to the woman at the well, He was simply saying what the Father was putting in His mind. If someone were able to stop Jesus as the conversation was in progress, they might ask, "which gift of the Spirit are You using now?" Is it the word of knowledge, or a word of wisdom?" Charismatics and Pentecostals are possessive about the gifts of the Spirit. One says I have the gift of tongues. It becomes something like a cosmic poker game. I have the gift of tongues and word of knowledge. Someone else says, "I see your tongues and word of knowledge and raise you a word of wisdom. Jesus is flowing in the gifts. There is something in the Holy Ghost that resists being dissected.

I think the that the Holy Spirit wants us to stack up all of our card houses. All of our theologies are placed nice and neat. We ask God if we have it right and He blows all of our card houses (theology) down. God is trying to shake our parameters of ministries and trying to tell us that He is showing us huge things. Powerful things. Donít gag at nats and swallow camels.

When Jesus was ministering, He used what ever gifts of the Spirit He needed to do the will of the Father. People ask me to pray with them asking God to reveal their ministry to them. I tell them that I know what their ministry is. It is to obey God. To do what ever He tells you at that moment in time.

That is a lady who is washing dishes in her house and the word of the Lord comes to her and tells her to bake a fruit cake and take it next door to the lady on your right. Tell her that God loves her and that you love her. Tell her that you concern about her and you just wanted to bring her a present. The woman, mystery of mysteries hears God and obeys. She goes next door and does as God said. The woman next door just falls into her arms and says thank God that you have come. My life is in a mess. The woman gets saved and delivered they feel the presence of the Holy Ghost. The first woman says thank God, I have found my ministry. She calls her lawyer and accountant and forms "Fruit Cake Ministries Inc.". Trust me, the world is full of fruit cake ministries.

A few weeks later, God calls on her again as she is washing dishes and tell her to bake a pound cake and go to the house on the left. Take it to the lady and tell her that I love her and that you love her. She responds by saying, "I donít have the ministry of pound cakes, I have the ministry of fruit cakes. One gets the mental image of God, the Father at His desk in heaven saying, "Oh my, thereís got to be a better way to do this."

How many times has the Holy Spirit wanted to thrust into my hands some divine appointment of ministry and I blew it because I wanted to justify myself as a preacher. I needed to fulfill my reputation as an evangelist. I couldnít take the time to do ministry.

Ministry should always be in the Spirit of Jesus. It should always be in the character of Jesus. Gentle and loving, with authority and boldness - graciousness.

In a small church that my wife and I attended while I was on the road, there was a woman who was battling cancer. Most of the church knew about it and tried to lift her spirits. We prayed with her for healing. When she wanted to talk, we tried to be open and real. It was sort of a churchwide family ministry with this lady. One day as she and another woman met at the altar of the church, just before the service and the other lady who though she was so spiritual, raised her hands and said in a false voice, "I perceive a spirit of death on you." I said great, thereís six months of ministry down the tubes. Because this lady wanted to prove what? That she could play her trump card at the moment when it could get the most attention. God forbid. That has nothing to do with ministry.

How did we ever fall into this kind of a thing. What happened to the gentleness, and humility? Ask simple questions to nipple. If they bite - O K. You donít have to hit them with your bible. You canít beat them into the kingdom. Say the word God tells you to say. If it is not right, move and someone else will be sent at the right time. Trust God for ministry in the Spirit. Other people have ministry too.

Let me tell you two stories in conclusion which might reveal something about ministry. The first is shameful and I dread telling it. If I knew some of your mistakes, I would love to tell them, but since I donít know them, I must use mine.

Some years ago when I was in evangelism, I want to preach at the revival services at a local Methodist church. It was one of those over "my dead body" invitations. The pastor doesnít really want you there. He told me that. He said, "I donít really want you to come, but my people want you to come." He lacked the guts to tell them no. So you are there and there is tension in the air.

I decided on the way out there, that I would preach a "big" sermon. A lot of people would be saved and that would calm the pastor down and we could then go on an deal with some things in the Spirit. I wrote that big sermon out. As I drove out there that morning, I began to feel wrong. I even came to the place where I pulled my car over to the side of the road and I prayed, God, if You donít want me to preach that sermon, what do You want me to preach? The strangest, silliest though came to my mind. A little fifteen minute sermon that I used a ladies groups on overcoming bitterness came to mind. I rebuked it in the Name of Jesus. I know that is not of God. Thatís not a Sunday morning sermon, that is a Thursday morning sermon for the ladies groups.

I donít have the boldness to say yes God, I hear You and the answer is no. Instead I whistle past the grave yard. I say, "Iím not hearing from God." Put some Christian music on and turn the volume up.

I drive on to the church and I preached that big message. Church folks are wonderful because they almost totally lack discernment. People on the street are dangerous. They see through you like glass. Church people donít know the difference between anointing and sweat. If you can just get a good glow on, most of the Charismatics are satisfied.

I wasnít five minutes into that sermon until I knew that I had launched the wrong ship. I know that it is a horrible thing to have to sit and listen to an unanointed message. Let me tell you what is really bad - preach one. You canít just say, "the pastor has charted out a real dog today, stand for the benediction." You have to go on to the finish line. Jesus is sitting in the front row, smiling at you. He says, "you wrote, you preach it."

If my memory serves me right, I gave the invitation and a few people responded. I knew it was wrong. They pastor and I went to the back door and were shaking hands of the people as the left and the pastor even said, I want to tell that message was something else. I said to myself, "I am probably my own worst critic. The pastor said come on letís go to lunch. Just at that moment, one last person came out of the church. A little, frail lady and I reached my hand out and she wouldnít even take my hand. The pastor looked her as she retreated and his shoulders slumped.

He looked at me and asked if I knew who she was. I said no, "I have never been here before." He said, "five years ago, when I came here, that lady was the finest Christian leader in this church. She did everything in the church. Two years ago, two men raped and murdered her daughter and she is dying of bitterness." He turned and fastened his gaze on me and said, "I think maybe the only thing holding this church back is if that woman could forgive.

There is was. Nothing to say. What do you say? The hand of God was on the church today and I blew it. This was the divine appointment for revival and I had to flex my muscles as an evangelist. There is nothing to say. Neither to God, no to the pastor. I just said, pastor, I canít have lunch with you today. Iím sorry. I just got into my car and said, "Oh God, please help me." Help me not to do that anymore.

It is so easy to let our pride, our ego, our tradition, and our self-righteousness to make us miss the moment of God. Now to the second example.

Several years ago, I was preaching a crusade in a small Japanese church. Small by our standards, large by Japanese standards. The teaching was being translated in Japanese by a young woman. I gave the greetings, read the text and bowed my head to pray and I felt a sudden impulse to pray in Spanish. I am not talking about tongues, I speak Spanish. But the translator is struggling to understand my English. Now I felt like a total and complete donkey. I just couldnít make myself pray that prayer in Spanish, so I just tried to pray. I was stumbling and faltering and the translator was stumbling, so I decided that I would pray in Spanish. I told the translator not to translate the prayer. I bowed my head and began to pray in Spanish. You talk about feeling like an idiot. I had everyone close their eyes, but I had this mental image of all these little Japanese people saying, "what is he doing."

I finished the prayer, preached the sermon and gave the invitation. From the back row, at a dead run, a young woman came and hurled herself down at the communion rail. She threw herself down. The translator and I went down to minister to her. I said in English, "wonít" you let us pray with you?" The translator translated into Japanese. The young woman lifted her head and pulled her hair back and said in Spanish, for she was not Japanese, "I am the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor in Chili. Ten years ago, when I was fifteen, I cursed my dad to his face. I ran off with a Japanese business man that I had know two weeks because I wanted away from my dad, his religion, Chili and everything I knew. I have been miserable for ten years. My husband doesnít love me, he beats me. I am lonely and afraid. I came here tonight because a Japanese girlfriend invited me to come to church. It is the first time in ten years that I have been in a church. When I came in the door tonight, I felt that it is no use for me to go here. I have gone so far that God doesnít even know where I am. When you bowed your head and began to pray in Spanish, it was like God Himself came in front of me and put His hand on my shoulder and said daughter, I found you."

She prayed with us to receive Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit. She said Iím going home to my dad. I donít have any idea what I preached that night. Neither does anyone else. There is not one person alive today that can tell you what my text was. But there is an eternal destiny changed. The Kingdom of God enriched because of one flickering moment of foolishness.

God teach us how to minister in the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.