A Ministry Mindset Changes Everything

I recently felt sorry for myself when I didn’t receive some accolades that I thought I deserved. I work hard, but most of what I do is for little to no pay. Team moms and homemakers and writers (at least most of us) aren’t in it for the money. Still, I felt snubbed and maybe even a little used. Hey, where’s my recognition?

Feeling depleted and unseen, I prayerfully complained to the Lord. All my effort, and that’s the thanks I get? Then I opened my Bible and flipped to the next passage in my daily reading plan. (It’s amazing how God can speak to you through this habit.) Here’s what I read in Luke 17:7–10,

“Which one of you having a servant tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? Instead, will he not tell him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are worthless servants; we’ve only done our duty.’”

It was clear as a cloudless day that God was talking to me. He is a good Father, I am His child, and I needed correction.

Servants of the LORD God 

Honestly, it wouldn’t be hard for me to conjure up unsubstantiated resentment toward several positions held. For example, do mothers get enough thanks for all their hard work? What about dedicated and supportive wives? Add up all my hours writing and studying and teaching God’s Word, and I’m working at least a part-time job for no pay. That’s not to mention all those meals I voluntarily make for our farm crew during harvest, while fulfilling my team mom responsibilities. I have a variety of areas in which I could let bitterness fester if I’m not careful.

When we fail to keep a proper God-centered perspective, it’s easy for pride to demolish a willing attitude. Yes, I am a child of God, but I am also a servant of the King of kings. My position as a coheir with Christ does not negate my responsibility to serve God faithfully in every way.

As Luke 17:9 says, does a master thank his servant because that servant does what he is commanded? No, not usually. God owes me nothing, while I owe Him everything. We don’t (and never will) deserve all that God has graciously given us. We don’t even deserve the privilege of serving Him. Yet God graciously allows us to bring Him glory by faithfully administering every work He puts before us.

I felt a little stunned when I read the passage, but it was exactly the reminder I needed. The roles God has set before me—serving my husband and children, encouraging women with the truths of Scripture, working concession stands, hugging babies in the church nursery, making meals—are all works God has called me to do. Who am I to require accolades for any one of them? If my Master says go, then I need to go, whether paid or unpaid, appreciated or forgotten, in hopes of faithfully accomplishing all that God commands me.

God Deserves the Accolades, Not Me 

If anyone deserves a great big “thank you” and a standing ovation, it’s Jesus. Who or what would we be without Him? Apart from Christ, I am lost, hopeless, weak, a detriment to myself, an utter failure at loving God and others, and destined for an eternity in hell. But with Him and through Him, I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). I am cloaked in so much hope and love that it overflows to others. I have a purpose, and I am empowered to do the job at hand.

We don’t deserve any of the blessings God grants us. Every single one is a product of God’s goodness and generosity. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD.” God is the proprietor of all things, yet God is willing to share with us. He gives us blessing and provision and breath and life, but more than that, He gives of Himself.

Titus 2:14 says, “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.” God doesn’t need to thank me. I’m the one who needs to thank Him, not only for life and peace, but for every opportunity He grants me to bring glory to His great name.

God Sees Everything and Promises a Great Reward 

“So whenever you give to the poor; don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matt. 6:2–4

God assures us that our labor for Him is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). God is watching, and He misses nothing. Not even a cup of water given for God’s glory goes unnoticed by our heavenly Father (Matt. 10:42). But which is better, to receive our reward now in the form of applause and assets that may tempt us toward pride and idolatry? Or wait for God to reward us in heaven where pride will not be an issue and rewards last forever?

We have no reason to be upset when no one thanks us, but perhaps every reason to celebrate when our efforts go unnoticed. God is an abundant giver, and we have nothing to worry about. We can trust in His promise of recompense and “serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord” (Eph. 6:7–8).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:6).

All of Life Is Ministry 

One of the best ways to keep a God-centered perspective as I serve those around me is to view each assignment as a ministry opportunity. For example, it’s much easier for me to keep a good attitude while working the school concession stand when I think of it as a chance to show Christ’s love to my community, instead of just viewing it as two hours selling candy bars and hot dogs.

When I keep God’s kingdom at the forefront of my mind, everything I do transforms to ministry. Serving my husband and kids becomes a ministry. Serving as a team mom becomes a ministry. Rocking babies becomes a ministry. 

Ministry isn’t just for pastors, and it doesn’t just happen at church. Ministry is what happens when believers live for God’s glory. Grocery shopping is a ministry when I keep my eyes open for lost souls who need encouragement. Going to work is ministry when God is the reason we go to work. It’s all about our perspective, and a ministry mindset changes everything.

“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23–24).

When my focus is on the Lord, I no longer need recognition or a standing ovation or a billboard with my name on it. Instead, with my mind on Christ, I can say what the servant said in Luke 17:10, “We are worthless servants; we’ve only done our duty,” and I can mean it. I can go about my duties with a thankful heart instead of a begrudging one because my perspective is right, and, therefore, so is my attitude. 

In this season of thankfulness, may we not only be thankful for all that God has given us, but may we also be thankful for all the ways God allows us to serve Him. To God be the glory in all that we do. 

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About the Author

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery is a farmer’s wife and mother of four. When she isn’t serving a meal on the side of the road, riding in a tractor with her husband, or driving kids to practice, you’ll find her escaping the crazy by writing devotionals at Deeper Devos, where she gives readers a weekly practical and deeper look at God’s Word. Her favorite things in the world (not counting her Savior, husband, and kids) include flipping houses, buying new books, and going for a nice long run. Stacey and her family reside in the cornfields of Indiana.

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