When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved...... When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until 1 come, what is that to you? Follow me!"         John 21:15-22


Peter understood quite well that Jesus was talking to him about---the kind of death he was going to have to die. He was going to be crucified. "I accept that  that's what's going to happen to me. But what about John? Is he going to be crucified too?" We want everybody's ministry to fit into ours. And if their ministry isn't like ours, there must be something wrong with it.


Then Jesus says to Peter, "If I want him to remain alive until I come back, what business is that of yours? You follow me."


Each of us is called into a ministry that is distinct from everybody else's. We are not called to follow a group, nor are we called to fit in to a standard pattern. We are called to follow the person of Jesus Christ.

And as we begin to truly follow Him, each of us comes into a relationship with Him which is different from everyone else's.


Instead of concentrating on Jesus and keeping our mind on the ministry to which He has called us, we are tempted to look around and compare. "What about this man, Lord? What about this woman over here?" Instead of trusting Jesus to keep us from falling, and concentrating on the ministry to which he has called us, we fall into confusion.


There is the "full-time, part-time" con­fusion. The idea that there are some saints of God who are full-time and there are others who are only spare time. Of course, in our minds, the spare time saints really don't count for much. It's the full­time ministers who set the pattern, who affect the destiny of the church, who are behind all the outreaches in evangelism. 0, the part-time saints say their prayers every day, go to Bible studies and services, and when they have a chance they go out and try to mini­ster to people too. But most of their time is spent making a living. After they're home from work, they're tired.


This is a deadly confusion. Every single one of us, who has been called to follow Jesus, has been called to follow Him full time.


If any one would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, daily,

and follow me.


It doesn't make any difference whether you have an eight-hour-a-day job or not, as long as you're doing what you're guided by God to do. It's possible that God may direct you to quit your job. And He might

also direct brothers and sisters to gather around and support you financially so that your family is provided for, while you go out and do what you believe God is calling you to do. But you are no more full-time now than you were before. Nor are you any more a full­time servant of the Lord than some brother or sister who works in a factory, or drives a bus, or practices law.


On the other hand, the Lord may guide me to give up being a pastor and take an eight-hour-a-day job. That doesn't mean that I'm any less full-time than I am now.


Full-time, part-time has nothing to do with whether you have a job or where your money's coming from. It has to do with where your heart is.


Then there's the "much fruit, little fruit" confusion. We all know that if we are called to follow the Lord we are called to bear much fruit.


By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.


Over here is Brother Slick, the Soul Winner. "Three souls a day" is his motto. He doesn't go to bed at night unless he has won three souls to the Lord. Over here is Convales­cent Home Connie. All she ever does is spend her time with people who are quite unimportant. They're crip­pled, their minds are gone. What kind of fruit is that? Slick bears much fruit, Connie little fruit. In our eyes. But in God's eyes it may well be that Connie is bearing fruit that you and I wouldn't even begin to dream of --- far out-stripping the superficial results of Slick's "ministry."


Then there's the "well-known, unknown" confusion. Certain brothers and sisters around town are well known. Their names are often on the lips of saints and they're sought for advice and they draw crowds wherever they speak. Whereas there are some brothers and sisters ..... "Brother who? did you say? Oh, I've never heard of him. I'm sure he's very sincere ... What? you want me to take down his name, address, and telephone number? You think it would do me good to talk to him? Oh, come now, I already have an appointment with Brother Big Time after his meeting down at Silverdome Tuesday night."


When are we going to get it through our heads that the reality side of our ministries has nothing to do with what is well-known in the eyes of men. The reality side of our ministries is always unknown to all but God. The things that men see of our ministries are about as significant as the smoke that pours out of the stacks at the power station. It looks ominous and impressive for a few moments and then it melts into the air and does nothing but pollute. "As unknown yet well known," says Paul. The only one before whose eyes we are well known is God.


Then there's the "much risk, little risk" confusion. Hudson Taylor went to China without a dime. C.T. Studd goes to Africa with no support. Much risk. But is the risk taken by Hudson Taylor or C.T. Studd any greater than that of some unknown woman in London with ten child­ren who works hard every day, and when there's an epidemic is out there taking care of the sick? When they're having a problem at the church she has the guts to get up and say what needs to be said. We are all called to take risks. If we're going to follow Jesus, we're going to risk it all. But the risk does not hinge on the heroics and dramatics we act out before the eyes of men, or how many books are written about us. The risk begins in the heart. And a lot of us husbands still haven't learned that our wives often take more risks than we men do. My wife will weep more easily than I and might be more afraid of bugs than I am, but every time there's a crisis, she displays courage way ahead of mine. Risk begins in the heart.


After this he said to him, "Follow me." Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved. When Peter saw him, he said, "Lord, what about this man?" And Jesus said, "If it is my will that he remains until I come back, what's that to you? You follow me"


The call of the Lord to all of us is, "Fix your eye on me and get down to the business to which I've called you. Get your eye off your brothers and sisters. Stop being so critical. Then your ministry will begin to blend instead of clash. And you will find that your ministry will begin to edify the Body instead of divide and tear."


Some things to consider now about each of our ministries:


1. Your ministry has already begun.


A lot of us think, "Won't it be wonderful when my ministry starts!"..... "When I get through Bible college." Or, "When I get to another location." "When my situation changes somewhat." It's like the man who is standing on the corner with a pile of tracts. He's on his way down­town, waiting for the bus. The bus is delayed and a young chap comes up to him and asks for a tract. The man gives him a tract, he reads it, and now he starts to ask ques­tions. "What's this all about?" But our Christian friend, instead of concentrating on this man and his need, keeps looking up the avenue to see if the bus is coming. He thinks that his ministry won't start until he gets downtown. He may have to go down there every day for thirty days and never have the opportunity he has at that moment on that corner!


2. Your ministry is where you are.                    


Not some place else. "How wonderful it will be when I get to China!" "When I work in Nigeria." But your ministry has already been given to you. Do something with it where you are If you're not faithful and effective in serving the Lord in the place where you have now been "put", what ever gives you the idea that you're going to be effective any­where else?


3. Your ministry is unique.


Different from everybody else's. It's true that we are called to blend in with each other, to pray for one another, to help one another, and to function in harmony. But this does not come by setting up a model for every one to imitate. There's only one pattern that we follow, and that is the pattern of the mind of Christ who emptied Himself of His glory and became a servant. We follow that. We begin to serve. And as we serve, some of us are going to be fingers and some are going to be eyes and some are going to be ears and some are going to be noses and mouths. Each of us will serve in a unique way, according to the gifts God imparts to us in His Spirit.


4. Your ministry rides on prayer.


We look at our Lord's ministry. He heals the sick, raises the dead, feeds the hungry. Marvelous! What we don't see are the hours, the nights, the days He spends praying, filling Himself with God the Father's life, interceding for His disciples, "Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have (the lot of) you that he might sift you as wheat, but I prayed for you (Peter) that your faith fail not and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers."


Your ministry will be what your prayer life is.


If you have a vital, effective, living relationship with God in your prayers, your ministry will thrive. But if your prayer life is slovenly, haphazard, unthinking, your external ministry becomes a sham.


5. Your ministry is going through continuous change.


It never stops changing. It's not a matter of getting hold of a pattern to follow the rest of our lives. God opens our eyes to new things. The situation around us makes new demands, fresh needs come to us which can­not be dealt with the way we responded five years ago. If we're not willing to change, we dry up.


6. Your ministry is bearing fruit.


There is no such thing as being faithful to Jesus, abiding in Him and letting Him abide in you in the place where He's put you, and not bearing fruit. Impossible. The fact that you're bearing fruit is not established by how many people pat you on the back, how many people say, "Thank you," how many results you see, how many people are "slain in the Spirit" when you snap your fingers. The proof that you are bearing fruit is simply the word of God. He promises that if you abide in Him and His words abide in you, you're going to bear fruit. Hang on to that. In spite of all your limitations and all the hang ups you may still have, you are bearing fruit.


7. Your ministry is based on the fact that Your name is written in heaven.


Rejoice, not that spirits are subject to you, but that your names are written in heaven.


The minute we begin to see things happening in our mini­stries, we are tempted to become intoxicated by results, caught up in seeing things change. And our eyes now are taken away from the Lord and from His Throne and soon we're manipulating people. Things are "changing," not as a result of the workings of the Holy Spirit, but as a re­sult of our own soulish energy. And the changes that then come may look good on the surface but they bring death in the end.


If we are faithful as disciples….


- There will be results.


- There will be fruit.


- Miracles will follow wherever we go.


- But our only joy is that our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

   God is our Father, we are His child.


Someone may be reading these words who says, "All of this goes by me because I really don't have a ministry, I've never been called."


Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord Jesus is now calling a Mary Magdalene or an apostle Peter through the words on this page. We get the idea that first you get saved, then you get trained, then you minister. But look what happened with the apostle Peter. He was called into the ministry before he ever knew what sal­vation was. "Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men," said the Master. The only thing that Peter knew was that this man, Jesus, had something that he wanted. He didn't know what it was to be saved. "De­part from me, for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord!"


And Jesus didn't say, "O.K. now repeat the sinner's prayer."


Jesus said, "Fear not. Henceforth you will be catching men." As Peter followed he received salvation and learned all he needed to know.


This same Jesus calls you to a ministry which begins, not at some future time, but today. Answer that call, and He will direct you step by step in the way He wants you to go.