When most people think about ‘the call to ministry’ they think about a person who has decided to make ministry his or her job – what he or she does for a living. When most people think of a ‘minister’ they think of the person who presides over the service at a church or spiritual center on Sunday morning. Or, they might think of the person who serves as a hospital chaplain, or a military chaplain or a prison chaplain.
I imagine that very few people who have not made this career choice would think of themselves as ministers. And yet, I believe that in a very real sense, we are all called to ministry.
What is a minister, really? In a nutshell, a minister is simply someone who supports the spiritual growth of others. Given that definition, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who is not a minister – whether they realize it or not. We all support each other’s spiritual growth, even when we don’t realize it. We are simply so deeply interconnected that we can’t help it.
There are many ways in which we minister to each other. When someone provides a listening ear when I’m in crisis, that person is being a minister. When someone comforts me in my grief, that person is being a minister. When someone helps me work through a confusing life problem, that person is being a minister. When someone joins with me to celebrate life’s joys, that person is being a minister.
And sometimes, even in the least likely situations, we are supporting someone’s spiritual growth. For example, when someone is pushing my buttons and triggering anger or frustration in me, they may be providing the impetus for my next spiritual growth spurt – and I may be doing the same for them! One of my favorite definitions of minister is one who comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Sometimes what I need most is to be jarred out of my comfort zone.
We are all called to ministry, and, when we say ‘yes’ to that call, we are simply agreeing to be more intentional about supporting each other. And, when we realize that everyone we encounter is also ministering to us, we open ourselves to a much greater experience of the Divine Flow.