We tend to forget that Jesus didn’t call the disciples into ministry. He called the disciples to Him. That focus gets lost in leadership once results are measured through our efforts. It moves from doing ministry with God to doing ministry for God.
This is John 15:5 in its purest form, the idea of abiding. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”
Knowing that what our Father desires is His relationship with us, how do we keep that calling alive? It begins with an understanding that in ministry we are not called to produce the fruit; that is not our job. We are simply pointing back to the supernatural power of God. Unfortunately, many of us see the fruit and begin to think, “I did that. I’m the one who produced that fruit.” But God states clearly that He is the true vine and, “Apart from [him] you can do nothing.”
Of course, we have a part to play. We can do much to help our ministries flourish. We can plant seeds. We can water. We can listen and obey – take action. But no matter how hard we try, we cannot produce the fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:8 says, “One man plants and another man waters, but God brings the increase.” The danger lies in confusing our role with the Lord’s. A taste of success in ministry can go straight to our heads. We start to believe that we are the ones that produce the fruit, and that God is simply the gardener––nurturing, cultivating, and harvesting our crop. This mindset takes us down a dangerous path.
Ministry comes in staying connected to God and understanding what abiding in Him really means. He says, “Remain in me and I remain in you.” It’s about having fruit come out of that relationship. The fruit comes from being connected, which is often confused with the fruit of our labor.
Excerpt from A NextGen Ministry Survival Guide. Get your free copy at http://slingshotgroup.org/ebooks/nextgenebook/