I like to ask the hard questions because they confront passive thinking and force the listener to confront issues that may be preventing them from taking advantage of every opportunity available to them. If I may, let me ask you this question: How much of your day dictates your attitude and behavior? Perhaps a better way to reveal the honest answer to this question is to ask, ‘Does your day influence you, or do you influence it’?
Do You Influence, Or Are You Influenced?
Every day you decide whether you will allow your day to influence you, or if you will influence it. The onus is on you. This is not a decision that you can pass off or blame on your circumstances. Each day you make your choice. If you choose not to decide, you relinquish authority to your circumstances which will gladly ruin your outlook on life. Why? Because life is not fair. It actively works against you. That’s the effect that sin has on creation (see Genesis 3:17). Again, you either keep the authority or you give it away. Unfortunately, most people willingly give it away. Like taking a 6-month-old pit-bull for an evening walk, it’s much easier to let it go than it is to hold onto that authority.
In his book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning‘, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl writes about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. Everything was taken away from the Jewish prisoners. They were stripped of their clothing, their pictures, and their personal belongings. The Nazi captors even took away their names and gave them numbers. Frankl was number 119,104. But Frankl said there was one thing the Nazis couldn’t take away: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”1
Corrie Ten Boom was such a person. In May 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and darkness had fallen across all of Europe as the Nazis spread hatred, fear and war. But on a quiet city corner in the Netherlands, she chose to be a beacon of light. In her quiet watchmaking shop, she and her family risked their lives to hide Jews and others hunted by the Nazis, in a secret room their house that they referred to as, “the hiding place”.
What Will You Embrace?
Eventually, Corrie and her family were captured and sent to a Nazi concentration camp to die, and although Corrie’s father and her sister died at the hands of the Nazis, she held onto that one thing that Viktor Frankl refused to surrender: her attitude. Instead of surrendering to hatred, she embraced love and forgiveness. This approach to life changed thousands of lives as she toured the world offering her testimony of God’s saving grace. What a powerful testimony. When they had the right to complain, they didn’t. The Nazi’s were trying to completely dehumanize them. It wasn’t just an attack on their identity, but on their very existence. They chose to maintain a positive attitude in spite of the horror they faced. Their light glowed in the darkness.
In all likelihood, you probably never faced the horror that either Viktor Frankl or Corrie Ten Boom have, but that does not deter from the real hardships you do face, or the feeling of despair you may feel, given your present circumstances. In fact, the worse the circumstance you find yourself in, the greater the ministry opportunity and impact you can have on those around you.
Every Day is a Massive Ministry Opportunity
Every day you have a massive ministry opportunity and just how effective your ‘ministry’ is, entirely depends on how you approach the 24 hours that God gives you to steward. Each day is gift wrapped just for you, bursting with opportunity. You don’t need a Doctorate in theology or a PHD in church planting. You simply need a willing heart.
When I wake up in the morning, I’m very quick to both recognize and submit to his lordship in my thinking. It is here that I “capture every thought”, ensuring that my thinking is focused on Him. While showering I’ll speak words of adoration praising him for who he is, which then leads to worship. By the time I’m dressed and ready to go, I’m in the zone and ready to serve. This is the way that I start every day. It’s the way that I have to start every day to ensure that my mind is in alignment with the Holy Spirit.
What Ministry Looks Like
It is with this mindset that I recognize the massive ministry opportunity available to me, and ministry usually starts when I stop at Wawa on the way to work (Wawa is the name of a chain of local convenience stores). When I enter the store, I make it a point to genuinely smile and open the door for the person walking in the door as I walk in, and do the same when walking out. Without question, I am always greeted with a surprised, “Thank you!”. My objective is to brighten someone’s day, to encourage them and build them up. Sometimes, after making the breakfast burrito I ordered just the way I like it, I’ll comment, “Look at that! Look how heavy it is! Psh, it’s like a massive 10 pounder!” That always brings a smile and look of appreciation, but I mean it when I say it! It is heavy, looks great and tastes awesome!
You see, ministry is not predicated on a degree. It naturally flows from the heart from the one who is in love with God, himself. In John 10:10, we read, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”. When you wear the Presence of God, you will find that you naturally shine light in the darkness.
So let me ask you, how many people will you encourage or build up within these next 24 hours? I encourage you, be a blessing and an encouragement to everyone you come in contact with.