First of all, “NewThru30“–do it. You won’t regret it.

Second, I read Mark Artrip’s most recent blog last night, asking the question “How do we raise up leadership (specifically in small group ministry situation)?” I had my immediate thoughts but didn’t really feel like it would be anything different than what others would say, so I didn’t comment.

Before bed, I was reading 2 Corinthians. I had no idea what God was going to teach me…

I was in Chapter 4. I’ll begin quoting at verse 5.

5For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We, as servants of Christ, have seen Him in some way. We have seen the beauty of the cross, we have seen the sacrifice of the blood, we have seen the glory of forgiveness. Since we have seen Jesus, we have knowledge of the glory of God, because everything about Christ reflects the glory of God. God allows our lives to shine the light of that knowledge. What a privilege.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

I know, the first thing you think of is the band. But no, actually they stole the name from Scripture…We have this magnificent knowledge of God’s glory through Jesus, yet we carry it in our earthly, weak, humble bodies. Paul says it is to make sure that everyone knows, including us, that it’s His power and glory, not ours.

8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.

This whole chapter is about ministry: Paul’s and the apostles’ ministry to the Corinthian Church and then, the Corinthians’ ministry to others. The Lord taught me last night that ministry is about death. You may be confused by that statement. We always hear how ministry “makes me feel full” or “gives life to my soul” or we hear “I love serving Jesus because that is when I feel most alive.” Don’t misunderstand: I do believe ministry has those effects, but ministry is accomplished through death (according to Paul’s words in 2 Cor 4).

Paul says that “we who live (believers, specifically those in ministry) are always being given over to death…so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in [us]…” Simply said, servants of the Gospel are (or should be) constantly dying so that life is created in those whom the Lord has allowed us to serve/lead.

My favorite part of the passage, and to be honest, the exact point where the Spirit drove this concept to my heart is, “So, death is at work in us, but life [is at work] in you.” Death HAS to be at work in me if I want life to be at work in those I serve. I have to be willing to die, to kill my flesh, to break that sinful habit, to guard my mouth, to purify my thoughts, to honor my authority, to flee immorality, to be wise with my money, to give to the poor, to stop wasting time (then say, “I don’t have time to read my Bible”) so that the Lord has “room” to manifest life through me. I must get rid of my flesh, so that I can be filled to the fullest with the Spirit, through whom only is real ministry accomplished. Ministry is a death sentence: a death sentence for my flesh. Kill me, Lord, kill me. So that Your life may be in all I lead. Make me a slave to righteousness, so that freedom may be manifested in the lives of all I serve.

15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16So we do not lose heart.

As we die and as death is at work in us, grace extends to more and more people and then they increase their joyfulness and gratitude to God. Ultimately our death brings glory to God. SO, we do not lose heart, which Paul says twice in this chapter (v.1).

Allow death to be at work in you, constantly, and your ministry will bring glory to God. So do NOT lose heart. Keep dying.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for dying for me, so that I can die for You. Kill everything in me that is not of You, that is my flesh. Destroy it. Fill me with more of Your Spirit. Thank You for Your Word. It is perfect, challenging, life-giving. May You be honored by the sharing of Your Word. I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would continue to teach this to my heart every day. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE TO MINISTRY LEADERS: Make sure your staff (volunteer or paid) is allowing death to work in them daily. Your ministry will not be all that God has called it to be if they aren’t. Especially since we know that leaders duplicate themselves. You want those whom they lead, to learn how to die daily also. If your staff is not spending daily time with the Lord, I doubt that they are making conscience efforts to root out sin in their lives or kill their flesh.