Originally published Tuesday, 01 October 2013.
“Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see, but in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.…” Deuteronomy 12:13
Have you ever set your heart and efforts to serve the Lord, your family, or your church and somewhere along the road shook your head at the results, wondering where you went wrong? I have! The New International Version translates the above verse as “do not offer your burnt offerings anywhere you please.”
Sometimes I have run out the door with my heart brimming over with zealous passion to serve Jesus and reach others in His name only to feel that somehow my labors weren’t accomplishing much. And yes, I prayed before I set my hand to the work. Prayed, fasted, had others pray, read Scriptures and sought a Biblical foundation and formation to the ministry project. But sometimes the efforts seemed like seeds that just didn’t grow. I couldn’t understand why not for the longest time and sometimes it still puzzles me.
While issues in ministry generally don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer, one facet I’ve learned to consider is that sometimes I’m serving in a place or way that I please, but isn’t necessarily where the Lord has asked me to serve. When I was first being trained in ministry, I was often told, “Go watch how so-and-so does such-and-such and make that happen here.” It’s good to learn from other people. It’s inspiring to see the Lord work in other church families. But there is also a balance point. We aren’t called to serve in every place we see or please. We are called to offer only where the Lord points.
Both my husband and I regularly return to the Scriptures to trim back our focus from all the “good” places we can pour our efforts to ensure we are offering them in the required, “best” places. If you are weary in serving, take some time to fast, pray and soak in the Scriptures that direct where to set your heart and hands for labor. Jesus said His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Sometimes we add to it and make life much harder than it needs to be.
I pray the Lord would surround you and your ministry labors with His protection and provision.