As we continue our spiritual life series, we are exploring what it looks like to live as CHRIST-centred, OTHERS-focused disciples. As followers of Jesus, we live out the story of the gospel with a faith that has an outward focus, perseveres with tenacity and is characterized by holy living. In this article, three Salvationists share how being engaged in ministry (E) has been vital to their spiritual health, and how they approach making disciples.
A Lifetime of Learning
by Erica Azak
When I consider the beginning of my engagement in ministry, it wasn’t terribly authentic—it was more a result of the encouragement of others. I had some encouraging people in my life, and I picked up the mantle of leadership because I cared about them and wanted to be the person they believed I could be. I look back on those times with joy and laughter and see so much growth. If those elders and leaders hadn’t placed that mantle of leadership on me, I think I would have missed a lot of opportunities to grow.
These days, I am fully aware of the tension of wondering how to encourage people to engage in ministry as Christ would. I am conscious of the possibility of pushing engagement because we see empty positions instead of trusting and waiting on God. I stand on the truth that engagement in ministry is essential for spiritual growth, while recognizing that there are times to step back or at least step sideways into different spheres and avenues of ministry.
For me, the root of this idea is realizing that engagement in ministry is necessary to grow, change and connect with Christ and his church. That might be the simple part. The more complex piece is needing the wisdom and discernment to decide when and how to engage. This piece feels like it involves a lifetime of learning and leaning on the Scriptures. Psalm 119 has a lot to say about this.
The second complex piece is knowing how to help others engage in ministry. As a leader, I consider it my job to help protect against burnout and discouragement. It is my job to uplift those ready and willing to engage. It is not necessarily my job to decide who should engage and how. God calls his people, and like the prophet Samuel searching for a king (see 1 Samuel 16), our human judgments can sometimes be wrong.
Erica Azak is the corps leader in Gitwinksihlkw, B.C., and regional youth co-ordinator for the northern region, British Columbia Division.
It’s Not About Me
by Peter Park
One of my favourite Bible verses is John 3:30. It reads, “He must become greater; I must become less.” In an age when it can be so easy to focus on myself, this passage is an anchor reminding me that it’s all about Jesus. In my thoughts, words and actions, am I glorifying God or am I making it about me? I often stumble and fall into the trap of the latter. But as I learn to be his disciple, this verse has become my prayer in each of my ministry settings.
As I engage my local corps and community, I pray that God will use me for his glory. In my current role at territorial headquarters, this verse has become a personal mission statement— that Christ may be glorified and that I may be a good steward of the ministry where I serve.
As I reflect on this verse and consider what it means to engage in ministry that is centred on Christ, something wonderful happens within my spiritual growth and development. More and more, God envelops all aspects of my life. I surrender—although not as swiftly as I ought to— to him as Lord over my hopes, dreams and worries. Ministry becomes an opportunity to model Christ and glorify God, and to draw closer to him as he reigns in me.
Peter Park is a project manager with the executive project management office at territorial headquarters, and attends Northridge Community Church in Aurora, Ont.
Disciples Make Disciples
by Captain Juan Chirinos
When I think about the privilege I have of speaking into the lives of young people, I feel excited because they have the potential to influence the world we live in today. As leaders, we need to exercise what I call the ministry of empowering, which makes an impact on and benefits both parties, the leader and the individual. We can gain great insight from the example of Paul and Timothy. I strongly believe that empowering young people to serve instead of simply giving them a task to do creates tremendous growth, both personal and missional, as the individual develops their own faith and leadership capacities.
Leadership is all about empowering others. What a great example we have in Jesus, who empowered people by engaging them so that they could experience what God could do in and through them as they participated in his mission. We are called to multiply—to be disciples who make disciples. In other words, a Jesus-centred leader empowers and equips people by entrusting them to the great mission of Jesus Christ.
Captain Juan Chirinos is the divisional children and youth secretary in the Quebec Division.
Kevin Slous is the territorial secretary for spiritual life development.
Photo: WTB Photography