It is the sense of being called which gives us the only adequate basis for effective ministry, the true experience of:
This was the foundation upon which Jesus' own ministry rested.
- Identity — You are my Son
- Security — I am pleased with You
- Significance — You have an important job to do
Jesus' ministered from this experience of Identity, Security and Significance.
His confidence came from a clear knowledge of his call (cf. John 13:3).
We need to check whether we are in the Cycle of Grief or the Cycle of Grace.
The Cycle of Grief
- Achievement — We achieve to provide ourselves with an identity
- Significance — Our sense of significance is dependent on what we achieve, so we rush on
- Sustenance — We are driven to achieve more to make ourselves acceptable to others and ourselves
- Acceptance — The sense of acceptance is temporary and fragile, so we go round the cycle once again
- The key feature of life in this cycle is that we are ministering for acceptance/approval rather than from it.
- God, and others, will only approve of us if we do a good job.
- We can become jealous and resentful of others who appear (to us) to be doing a better job.
- Our identity is somehow tied up with performance; criticism strikes at the root of our sense of self-worth.
- We are self-reliant and self-centred and lose any real sense of perspective.
- Our spiritual life is often crippled by life in this cycle.
Various factors serve to immerse us in the Cycle of Grief. We are often 'driven' by strong inner urges which we’ve picked up during formative times in our lives. These may include e.g.
- Only the perfect is good enough; you could always do better.
- What others think of you is the most important thing; always try to please others.
- Do not ever admit to any weakness; always act as if everything was fine and as if you are well able to cope.
- Do not admit to any failure; only those who succeed matter to God and to others.
The Cycle of Grace
- Acceptance — Beloved: Unconditional Grace; Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 2:4-5
- Sustenance — Relationship: Constantly renewed through dependence on God; Matthew 17:5; Ephesians 2:7
- Significance — Calling: Sense of Significance; John 13:3; Ephesians 2:6
- Achievement — Work Complete: Passionate Service/Ministry; John 17; Ephesians 4:10
Knowing His acceptance depends not on our achievements but on the saving love of God alone.