Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;– Romans 12:7
Let’s remind ourselves what a gift is. The word translated gift is a Greek word, charismata. The root of this word is the Greek word, charis, which means grace. The gifts mentioned in this passage are not earned gifts. These gifts are gifts which we do not deserve – gifts of GRACE. We do not acquire these gifts by our talents and skills. These gifts are based on completely on the LOVE and GRAC of our Lord in wanting us to be equipped to take part in His plan. Keep in mind that these gifts are NOT talents and skills. Talents and Skills are NATURAL abilities. Spiritual gifts are SPIRITUAL abilities. Spiritual gifts are given to EDIFY (build up) the church, NOT US.
Let’s now take a look at the second gift mention in this passage – the gift of ministering.
What is a minister? Most would say a minister is a pastor. All pastors should be ministers but not all ministers are pastors. The word, minister, signifies service. There is a difference in being a minister and having the gift of ministry. Every Born-Again believer should be a minister. We should all serve each other and be in submission to one another (Ephesians 5:21; Ephesians 6:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Just as Christ took upon himself the form of a servant, we also should take upon ourselves the form of servants.
However, there is also a gift of ministry. This refers to the special role someone has in the church to serve. When someone with this gift has fully embraced the gift of ministry, you will notice this person always serving in one form or another. The illustration that comes to mind is a school. Every teacher should make sure their classroom stays clean. The teacher should make sure there is not trash all over the floor and the boards are wiped down. The teacher should also care about the school enough to pick up trash off the hallway floors if he spots it. However, there is also a janitor whose sole job is to clean the school. The janitor picks up trash from the hallway floors but mops the floors and waxes them as well. Although both roles have a responsibility to clean, the primary role of the teacher is to teach, and the primary role of the janitor is to clean. Although all of us should take upon ourselves the role of servants, there are special people who have a desire at their very core to always be serving others. They will always be thinking, “How can I serve so-and-so? What do they need?” They will feel restless, empty, or useless unless they are serving someone. In reality, I believe most pastors do not have the gift of ministry. They should have the gift of prophecy (see the study, Spiritual Gifts – Part 2) and possibly governance, but God may not have given them the gift of ministry. They are to minister to others in their own duties just as everyone should minister to others with their own duties. The word in Romans 12:7 for ministry is the same word from which we get the word, deacon. What is a deacon? Is he a ruler of a church? Is a deacon someone whose main job is to make decisions for the church? Nope. A deacon’s main job is to serve.
Take a look at Acts 6:1-4 where the beginning of the official role of a deacon seems to take place. Take note of the words in bold.
“1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
The three words I highlighted in this passage all come from the say word from which we get the word, deacon. Notice there is a distinction between the two types of ministration. The first two occurrences (in verses 1 and 2) refer to ministry toward the church – or people – in earthly needs. The last occurrence (verse 4) refers to the ministry of the word. The apostles spent much time preaching and teaching God’s Word and were not able to make sure the earthly needs of the widows and others were taken care of. They then asked the church to choose out seven men to serve others in their earthly needs so the apostles could continue teaching and preaching the Word of God. At first glance, some may think these apostles thought too highly of themselves, not concerning themselves with the needs of widows. However, the apostles did in fact continue to serve the widows and others in need, but this service was not for earthly needs but spiritual needs. This is a great example of the distinction in gifts. In the same chapter, you find out about a deacon named Stephen who seemed to have the gift of miracles (Acts 6:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28), teaching (Acts 6:9-10), and prophecy (Acts 7:2-53). After the message he preached in Acts 7, the religious Jews stoned him. We do not know how much time passed between his ordination as a deacon and this message he preached. It could have been a day or a few months. Either way it doesn’t seem like his primary role in the Body of Christ was to serve the church in earthly needs. I speculate that although he was a deacon he may not have had the gift of ministry. There’s nothing negative about this at all. It just demonstrates the distinction between spiritual gifts and earthly duties. Some deacons and pastors do not have the gift of ministry and some do. Just make sure to not belittle the high calling of this very special, humble gift – the gift of ministry.
Have you figured out yet what your gift is?
Do you have the gift of ministry?