The purpose of ministry and sweet tea

sweet tea

Image by enigmachck1 via Flickr

The world teaches us to measure success by numbers, by outcomes, by measurable goals and objectives.

Often, in fact more often than not, ministry can not be measured that way.

Don’t get me wrong.  I try to measure it that way.  The enemy rubs his evil hands gleefully when I do.  Because he knows that trying to find God in the statistics is a futile and frustrating trap.  That in doing so I will quickly turn my eyes from the Provider to the numbers for my sense of purpose and accomplishment.  That I will run my own self in to the gerbil wheel of pride and defeat.

I shared at our monthly committee meeting {for our teen mom ministry} tonight that God has not called us to grow a garden, just to plant and water the seeds.  If anything grows, it is because of Him, not us.  If nothing grows, the seed was still planted.  Love was the seed, grace the water and only He gets to know if and when a flower will bloom.

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?  The farmer sows the word.  Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.  Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4: 13-20

Nowhere do those verses blame the farmer for the outcome of the seed. I am not responsible for the outcome. God is.

I am simply a vessel, a cracked pot whose holes were sealed by the redemptive love of Christ and now filled with Him can be poured out into others.

When you think about it, what does a pitcher need do other than be poured out?

When I make sweet tea, the pitcher sits on the counter while the tea bags steep, sugar and water are added and ingredients are stirred.  The pitcher gets to hold the blessed liquid that parches thirst and makes a weary soul smile with satisfaction.  The pitcher gets to be poured out and share the liquid gold with others.

If someone doesn’t like sweet tea or isn’t yet accustomed to the taste, the pitcher doesn’t take it personally.  Because it’s not about the pitcher.  It’s not about the vessel.

Sweet tea, Living Water…the pitcher is just the pitcher.

The One that pours the Living Water in to this willing vessel is not concerned about numbers.  After all, He is the One that will leave the ninety and nine to go after the one lost sheep.

Each and every cup poured out of me, regardless of whether the sweet tea gets drank, matters to Him.  Ministry is not for the ministered to. Ministry is not for the minister.  It is an obedient act of worship to my Heavenly Father.

When ministry is leaving me tired, beat down and wondering “am I really making a difference”? , may I remember that God holds me responsible for my obedience, to the process of working out the good work He started in me NOT for the outcome.

I am just a jug, full of sweet, sweet tea.

I need only be God’s pitcher, His vessel for the pouring.


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  1. “I am not responsible for the outcome.”
    Oh girl! I needed to hear that today. It is just so hard to just accept that I can’t control everything!
    Thank you.

  2. It is tough but it’s worth it too. just like you said. Thanks for the encouragement!

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