I love traveling for ministry. The diversity in the body of Christ fascinates me and in turn gives me a well-rounded perspective. If we’re honest, leaders and laity alike tend to think that a person who travels is some sort of higher-caliber guy. I don’t necessarily agree, but that’s not the point of this entry. (But putting every home group and coffee shop you play or putting every date you preach at your own church on your website to make it seem like you’re big-time is a bit weird.)
Itinerant ministry is an awesome responsibility. And I don’t mean awesome as in “so freakin’ cool” awesome, I mean “serious, weighty, not-to-be-taken-lightly” awesome. Here’s one of my (very basic) secrets: I ask God to give me a genuine love for the people, leadership, and movement I am being sent to. Without love, I’m just a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13). It doesn’t matter how well I preach or sing, or how good my songs are. If I don’t love the people I’m ministering to, I shouldn’t even call it “ministry.” It’s merely a “performance”, “ego-stroking session”, or “presentation in hopes that people will buy my products and make me money.”
Before any trip I ask God to give me a heart of love and servanthood towards that church or conference, regardless of how they treat me, pay me, or respond to my ministry. If you’re looking to “travel” I hope it’s from a genuine desire to edify the body rather than something that gives you significance or value. Bookings are a sad thing to find your significance in. If you are running someone’s product table, playing for another worship leader, or just driving your pastor around, pray for those people as if you were the one invited to minister. If you wait ’til you’re the main draw, it’s too late and you’ll get a jaded perspective. Be faithful in little, and even then invitations may not come. But does it really matter?
Let’s find our significance in Him…it keeps us from loving ministry more than God. Ministry is addicting, and it can become an idol. The anointing can be intoxicating. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t enjoy God using us or be honored when invited somewhere. But like any good thing, it can be abused or distorted. Loving those you are serving keeps you from ulterior motives. Loving those you are serving keeps you from being dogmatic and failing to appreciate diversity in the body of Christ. Loving those you are serving makes flight delays, long drives, and bad accommodations worth it. Faith, hope, and love…but the greatest of these is love. Be good to Jesus’ bride! Safe travels!