One of the most iconic movies of my generation is ‘The Karate Kid’. It’s not just a good martial arts movie; it’s just a great film. The film shows us the life of Daniel, who is a kid who finds himself in a new high school, which comes with a new breed a bullies. Daniel’s situation grows so bad that the maintenance man of his apartment complex, Mr Miyagi, offers to take Daniel-san under his wing and train him in karate.
Daniel shows up excited to learn. His excitement quickly dissipates when he finds out that his training will begin after he does some chores. Daniel’s would-be mentor has him sand his back deck, wash and wax his car, and paint his fence. After three days of hard work and no training, Daniel has had enough. He confronts Mr Miyagi about the lack of training. Just as Daniel is about to walk away from everything, the wise old mentor asks Daniel to do all of the motions that he had over the last three days; painting the fence, sanding the floor, and famously wax on, wax off. With little warning, Mr Miyagi begins to throws kicks and punches at Daniel-san, who instinctively begins to throw near perfect blocks, deflecting the attacks.
Turns out, he had been training this whole time.
I think God is a lot like Mr Miyagi some times.
Scripture talks a lot about people being ‘gifted’ with different things. Paul tells the church at Corinth that each member of the body has a different gift or skill that God has prepared them with. He reminds the churches of Ephesus that each of us have different callings, and that God has prepared ministry for you and I to do ahead of time. One of the biggest struggles of churches, however, is that church folk don’t feel very ‘equipped’ for ministry.
After all, they don’t know Greek. They don’t know how to write a sermon. They don’t feel very confident in prayer. They’ve never been a leader before. They haven’t been to seminary or bible college. On and on the reasons for us not feeling prepared for ministry go. The thing is, each one of those reasons stems from one idea: That ministry is what the pastor does. I don’t mean the idea that we’ve ‘paid someone to do ministry’. I mean ministry is the compilation of certain skills – teaching, preaching, pastoral care, special prayers, and so on. And those skills can certainly be a ministry.
But running a PowerPoint presentation can also be ministry. Making crafts with kids can be ministry. Teaching people about money, changing someone’s oil, or having a meal with someone can all be ministry. Each of us have different experiences and skills that we have developed throughout life, and each one of those things could be turned into a ‘ministry’.
Sure, Paul used his scholarly training to plant churches. Lydia was a small business owner who helped him do that by using her business contacts and networks to support those churches. And she didn’t go to seminary or rabbi school. She didn’t have a degree in counseling. She was just a gifted business owner who used what God and life had given her to support the church.
Church folk are some of the best trained, least mobilized Kingdom resources on the face of the planet. That’s largely because to most people ‘ministry’ is simply one set of skills. In truth, God has been training and preparing us for years for our ministry.
Sometimes we just need someone to show us that. And sometimes we need to be willing to use what God has given us, whether its our skills, passions, or hobbies, to help others connect with God. Because God set us free for a purpose.
To help set others free.
I love y’all and there’s nothing you can do about.