Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;– Romans 12:7
I believe a key to interpreting the next few verses is found in the prior verse when the apostle brings up the gift of prophecy. He says of those with the gift of prophecy, “let us prophecy according to the proportion of faith.”
We spent several days looking at what Paul meant by the words, “measure of faith” in verse 3. The same idea is here presented with the words, “proportion of faith.” Some commentators take the words, “according to the proportion of faith” to mean that preachers can preach with more power if they had more faith. If this was the idea, I believe the apostle would have instead said, “let us prophesy with more faith.” The Lord has distributed gifts throughout the Body of Christ and has a ruler of faith for each of us which we are measured by (see The Measure of Faith study). For those with the gift of prophecy, they are to prophesy according to God’s designed plan for them.
In our verse today, we are told that those with the gift of ministry are to wait on their ministering. There are two ideas that come with the word wait. The two ideas are to 1) stay in expectation and 2) attend upon.
Wait: To Stay in Expectation
In this verse and the following verse, those with the mentioned gifts are to wait on the gifts’ use. We can take the word wait to refer to staying in expectation as one would wait upon a train they have a ticket for. The idea here is that we are not exceed our bounds. God has a plan for each of us to be enacted in HIS timing, not ours. If God has a gift for you, say teaching, you are to wait upon God’s timing to teach. A great example of this is found in 1 Timothy 3:6. Paul lays out the qualifications of a bishop and says, “not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” Bishop refers to the overseeing aspect of a pastor. It may indeed be in God’s plan for a young preacher to at some point become a pastor, but it must be in God’s timing. Many young preachers assume they are supposed to immediately take up the pastorate. This may be the case for some, but in many cases, there are not only skills he must learn before he can efficiently work the role of a pastor, but there is also spiritual knowledge he must learn. The result of a preacher taking on the role of a Bishop outside of God’s timing can be a suppressed ministry. Pride could rise up from thinking more highly of himself than he ought (Romans 12:3), leading to a suppressed ministry due to lack of spiritual maturity. His ministry can also be suppressed by taking on more than God had previously prepared him for. There must be zeal, but there must be knowledge to accompany it (Romans 10:2). We are to WAIT upon our gifts. Yes, we should be seeking out our gifts, but we are to stay in EXPECTATION and EXCITEMENT upon the opportunity to USE the gift. Just because there is a door open does not mean the door was opened by God. I can’t find one time in Scripture the idea that just because a door is open one is to walk through it! When the New Testament mentions open doors, it is clear that GOD was the one opening it (Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3).
Wait: To Attend Upon
Once we have waited for GOD to open the door to the utilization of our gifts, we are to wait upon this utilization in the same way a waiter would wait upon his attendees at a table. The waiter listens to his attendees and serves his attendees. A prophet (preacher) is to wait upon his role in the same way. He is to be obedient to his role with whatever it calls for whenever it is called for. It is not just a job, it is a way of life. It’s who he is. The same goes for a teacher, a minister (servant), and the rest of the spiritual gifts. It’s part of who we are. We have no right to neglect our duties just because we don’t feel like performing it. In order to be obedient to our Lord, we must be obedient to our gift. We must attend upon our gift all day every day, ready to do whatever is required of us.