Friday, February 22, 2008

My Success As a Minister

I was listening to a great message entitled “The Mark of Success” by Bishop Tony Miller

yesterday afternoon as I was working. Bishop provided some powerful nuggets of wisdom throughout the message. However, toward the end of the message he shared a story that pulled so tightly on my heart strings. I couldn’t get it out of my heart- or head. I wanted to share it here on Destiny Driven… I am going to tell it in story form with fictitious names… I hope your heart hears what mine did.

Betty was a praying Christian woman with a desire to see her husband Jim saved. However, Jim had no intention of getting saved. This did not keep Betty from asking Jim to attend church with her. He resisted until one day.

Betty approached Jim as she always did and asked him to go to church with her. Jim had an epiphany (or so he thought!) that may keep Betty from bugging him about going to church. “Okay Betty,” Jim said. “I’ll go to church with you if you come to the Red Dog with me.” Just so you know, the “Red Dog” is a strip club.

Betty said okay. She went with Jim to the Red Dog, sat at a table and ordered a soda. The next day, Jim went to church with her. This went on for a while. Betty would go to the strip club with Jim and Jim would then go to church with Betty. Eventually, Jim got saved and he no longer desired to go to the Red Dog. But Betty had a hard time letting go of the Red Dog.

So, Betty continued to go to the Red Dog, she would get a table, order a soda, some dinner and she would sit there in the midst of all of the pole dancing and lap dances. Then, at the end of the night, the ladies of the Red Dog would come and site with her. Betty would give them baskets of bath and spa products from Bath and Body Works and she would talk to these ladies about how much Jesus loves them. Before too long, other ladies joined Betty in this ministry. It is now a ministry of Cathedral House of Praise. The ladies of the Red Dog are coming to know the life changing power of Jesus.

It doesn’t stop there because a woman in South Carolina heard about Betty and Jim and the Red Dog testimony. She also began to minister to the women of a strip club and they too began to get saved. She would then help them get new jobs and get them into church.

As I told Pastor Deanna yesterday, I heard Bishop Miller say, “Ministry is when I make someone’s life better.” Betty did that for the women of the Red Dog and the woman in SC did that for the women she ministered to as well. They didn’t judge them; they didn’t picket or exploit them. They simply recognized that Jesus loved these women and if Jesus loved them then they should be no exception.

When Craig and I were pastoring in Alabama, a club opened up down the road from our church. It wasn’t necessarily a strip club, it was more like one of the “Coyote Ugly” bars where the women dance provocatively on the bar tops and tend bar for hundreds of men each night. The parking lot and side streets and parking lots were always three deep. We even had folks parking half a mile down the road at our church. One Sunday morning one of our staff was greeted by a jeep with two passed out young men in our parking lot. Daniel was concerned and woke them. They were quite embarrassed and were surprised by Daniel’s loving and serving demeanor. Well, they couldn’t find their keys and Daniel helped them find their keys buried somewhere in the back of the jeep. He also offered our restroom facilities and made them a pot of coffee. Before they left Daniel also invited them to stay for church but the two men were feeling embarrassed and quite ashamed so they did not stay. But I guarantee you they will never forget the goodness and love showed them.

That same summer we offered an affordable summer camp to the community of Oxford. One of our campers was a young man who had “two mommies.” Never once did we pass judgment or chastise this family. Instead we loved them, we prayed for them, we invited them to church, we hugged them and we listened to them. By the summer’s end a notable difference was evident in the young man and in one of his moms. I believe we planted a seed.

To answer your questions and concerns… no I do not believe that a homosexual lifestyle is okay. The Word of God states it is sin. I believe that, but I also believe that the love of God that will bring the sinner to repentance. Isn’t that how we all came to know Him?

In closing, my heart is bursting open right now. I am looking for ways I can minister by making others lives better- for His glory. That may occur through handing out some bath oils at a strip club or buying someone’s groceries, but it might also occur through the words I type here.

I don’t have all of the answers. I am far from perfect. I just want to please Him. I just want to serve Him by serving those He puts in my path, in the church, outside the church, at work, in my neighborhood, on the World Wide Web, in my network, and on the street. My success as a believer, as a minister of the gospel hinges on my ability to serve those around me.


Tara said...

This was a beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

As my former district superintendent used to say, "Why do we expect sinners not to sin?"

LOVE it!!!!

Deanna Shrodes said...

You're eating out of my box of Cheerios once again. (Or I'm eating out of yours!) Love this post. And love you...