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Every Christian is called to be a minister

One of the scariest moments of my seminary career occurred on my very first day of Seminary, September 12, 2001.  It was a surreal feeling starting seminary on the day after 9/11. This was a fearful time for our nation and I have to admit a fearful time for me as I began a new chapter of my life. What made that day even more worrisome was when a group of seasoned seminary students were giving some of us new students some pearls of wisdom.  One of them said to me, “You know that as a minister you represent God to others.” I never stopped to think that being a minister is to represent the Lord.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me. It just didn’t; it was a new revelation. My thought at the time was, “Who am I to represent the Lord?” If that’s what being a minister means then I was pretty sure I wasn’t cut out for ministry.

That comment bothered me so much that I asked one of my professors about it; was this true?  What he said eased my burden, but I’m guessing that what he said will make you feel as uncomfortable as I felt.  He said this: “Todd, it’s correct that as a minister you will represent the Lord to a lot of people, but that shouldn’t bother you because, 

EVERY Christian is supposed to represent our Lord and EVERY Christian is called to be a minister 

to others in some way.” After he told me this I did feel better, but I still feel the weight of this calling from time to time. Again, who am I to represent our Lord to others, or to be the hands and feet of Christ for others?

So this idea of every Christian is called to be a minister is an idea that has stuck with me as I’ve gone along in ministry and I’ve tried to notice ways in which people minister to others. For the next few months I’m going to feature people in our newsletter and in sermons who are doing a great job of being a minister for Christ. I hope that these newsletter articles and sermons will broaden our definition of what it means to be a minister.  Being a minister is not just preaching and teaching about Christ. It’s not being employed in a full time capacity in a church. Being a minister means using your God given talents to care for others in ways in which Christ would care for others.

Bruce Lewis cutting Andy Suddarth's hair

Take Bruce Lewis for example. Bruce’s ministry is cutting hair. Bruce operates a barber shop on a part-time basis and while that can be a ministry, the ministry that Bruce provides is cutting hair for men who are shut-in, sick or simply cannot leave their home. Bruce said this ministry began when he was 18. He was in training to be a barber and, at the time, he had a best friend that was badly injured in an automobile accident. Bruce’s friend was left in a paraplegic state and Bruce was called to cut his friend’s hair. That incident stuck with Bruce and showed him the blessing of serving others. Over the years Bruce has cut so many men’s hair in a variety of circumstances. Bruce remembers cutting the hair of folks like Mr. Justice, Walker Smith, Ed Moseley, Ed Boyer, Joe Moschler, Bill Tanner, and many, many more. Because some of these men were sick, in a wheelchair, or bed-ridden many of these haircuts required Bruce to get on his knees, or to actually crawl in the bed with some of them so he could get their hair looking just right. Some men were so sick that they never knew that they were getting their haircut and for many of them Bruce was the one that gave them their last haircut. This is when the act of cutting someone’s hair becomes a sacred offering to our Lord. Bruce helps these gentlemen to maintain a sense of dignity as he lovingly cuts and styles their hair.

So is cutting hair a ministry? Is Bruce Lewis a minister?  I asked that question to Irving Jamerson. Irving has trouble seeing and doesn’t drive anymore.  Every few weeks Irving gets a call from Bruce to see if he would like his hair cut. Irving told me, “It sure is a ministry! It means that I don’t have to worry others about getting me out to get my hair cut. Bruce takes great care of me and I appreciate what he does. I don’t know what I’d do without him.” Irving went on to say that he tried to pay Bruce a time or two, but Bruce never takes anything for these haircuts.

As with any ministry, Bruce admits there are times that he’s tired and would rather not have to get out and wishes he could stay at home and rest. Bruce says he quickly overcomes these feelings once the haircut begins. He finds that in the act of cutting these men’s hair the Lord ends up blessing him and rejuvenating him. He said, “I know these men look at the haircut as a blessing, but let me tell you, I’m the one that receives the real blessing!” Well said, Bruce. I want to thank Bruce for continuing to minister and serve these men who cannot get out to get their hair cut. It’s absolutely a ministry and Bruce Lewis is a minister. I know it’s hard to see ourselves as ministers; I’ve been there, but let me ask us to expand our view of what it means to be a minister. Let me ask you to begin to think of yourself as a minister. 1 Peter 2:9 affirms our calling as ministers when it says,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Bethel, we are a royal priesthood, in other words, ministers! So what is your ministry? What gifts and talents has the Lord blessed you with that allow you to serve and care for others in the name of Jesus? It may take you a while to answer that question, and that’s ok. It took Bruce a while to be able to see his haircuts as a ministry. The important part is that we start the journey. Let’s begin by praying that the Lord would reveal to each of us our unique ministry. When you find it, you can bet it will bless others and you’ll get a blessing as well.  May God bless you and may God bless Bethel Church.  Amen.

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