You're a minister

“What do you do?” That’s the bread and butter of daily conversation. 

Conversely, you aren’t often asked, “Why do you do it?

That’s the ultimate question — “Why?” — the one I hear more than any other from my young kids. I’ve learned answering with “because I said so,” is just as annoying to them as when my parents said it to me. At some point between childhood and parenthood, we seem to lose a bit of our curiosity, stop asking important questions, and even stop wanting to answer important questions.

If you’re a regular reader, you know we’ve been in quite the season of transition over the past year or so at Visalia Rescue Mission. During these types of transitions, “Why?” becomes a very common question and the one most desperately needed to streamline operations, budgets, and programs. On a personal level, however, the answer is a little more elusive. 

This is what we’ve come up with:

What do we do? We love our neighbors. (Mark 12:30-31)

How do we do it? By what we say to and how we treat our neighbors. (1 John 3:18)

Why do we do it? If I were to answer, “Because God says so,” that will go about as far as it does with my kids. 

If you recall, Jesus calls us the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-15). This is an acknowledgement of new creations in Christ, not a job description you may or may not fit. If we’re honest, sometimes we like the excuse of a “secular” job because ministry scares us — sharing our faith scares us. Or maybe, you’ve done it well for years and just feel exhausted helping the less fortunate, believing for marriages resulting in divorce, ministering to coworkers or encouraging students, only to have them walk all over you and take advantage of your compassion. 

Either way, Paul has something to say to you: “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10 MSG)

We all need reminders at times of our true titles. You’re not a teacher, you’re a minister. You’re not an accountant, you’re a minister. You’re not a mechanic, you’re a minister. You’re not a barista, you’re a minister. 

So ask yourself, “Why do I do what I do?” It’s the best question for the answers you’re really wanting and the world really needs. 

Ryan Stillwater

Ryan is a longtime Visalian — a graduate of Redwood High School and Fresno Pacific University with a bachelors degree in Christian Ministries. Intrigued by the partnership between the Visalia Rescue Mission and the City of Visalia, Ryan began putting his vision on paper as VRM's Oval Venue Coordinator in August 2013, and has sparked the interest of many throughout the community. Ryan and his wife Amy (a Mt. Whitney High School graduate) have been married for seven years and have three amazing kids — ages 6, 4, and 4.