I practice daily humility moments. They’re gonna happen anyway, so my plan is beating humility to the punch so the blow is minimally invasive. Whenever I’m tempted to think I’m spiffy, I remember what happened the morning God introduced the concept of ministry.
Doesn’t everyone want to know God’s grand purpose for his or her life? Before my first book was out of production at the publisher (2009) I learned that new challenges were being added to my to-do list. There would be another book – and ministry. I wrote a couple business-related books in the late 1980s so wasn’t unbalanced by the book thing, but the thought of doing anything ministry-related was as foreign to me as becoming a chef. (I don’t cook – at all. Seriously.)
Are there any routine calls into ministry?
As far as I was concerned, the book thing was a piece of cake because it wasn’t my project – it was His. The assignment, title, content, and publisher for “Amazing Grays” was all Him. But ministry? Being a relatively obedient sort I replied, “Okay, Lord, I’m good with that, but I don’t know anything about starting a ministry.”
So I inquired, “Lord, what is my purpose?”
The answer was crystal clear. One word: Fertilizer.
I don’t hear God audibly, but I can usually share full sentences with punctuation. (No exclamation points so far.) If you need a voice to add character, think Charlton Heston as Moses.
You are to be fertilizer.
Bear in mind that I’ve spent most of my waking hours (and a good number of sleeping ones) for the past few decades in barns and live in one today. I’ve shoveled, scooped, raked, or spread tons of manure on pastures and hayfields. When I hear fertilizer, I think manure. Launching into ministry as manure was not the most complimentary occupation I could think of.
“Really? I’m to be fertilizer?”
Being intimately familiar with the role of fertilizer, I eventually made the connection. Fertilizer is applied to crops already planted, sprouted, and alive. When used properly it strengthens what’s growing, encourages bigger blooms, greater yields, and richer fruit. There is also a downside to improperly applied fertilizer – it stinks.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m okay with that. Many walk far more difficult roads than serving as simple fertilizer. Consider the Apostle Paul,
Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. – Philippians 2:17
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. – 2 Timothy 4:6
My husband and I laughed nervously at the news, but recognized the attendant restrictions: no sowing, no watering, no harvesting. If and when invited we’d visit growing crops, deliver a message or assistance, then leave and let the “farmers” handle the rest. If our message was right the crop was strengthened; if it was wrong we knew the distasteful result – we’d stink.
Messages to Motivate Change
Getting the message right was my first and remains my greatest challenge. What I say is right if it is what those listening need to hear – in God’s opinion, not mine.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. – 1 Corinthians 13:1
There are as many professional speakers as there are shades of blue. I wasn’t the only motivational voice my booking agent represented. Potential clients often asked how my message compared with others. I replied that there are two basic types of motivational speakers; entertainers and catalysts (aka fertilizer). Entertainers pump up emotions to bring audiences to their feet a hootin’ and a hollerin’. The big delivery is a powerful physical or emotional rush. Who doesn’t love to be entertained? But the rush soon fades.
I’ve been told I can be entertaining (insert eye roll) but that’s never been my goal. If you just want to have a good time, hire an entertainer. To offer lasting benefit, hire the catalyst.
Thirty years of experience proves I am best as fertilizer. My definition of speaking success was motivating someone in the audience to live a different life. I hoped to inspire lasting change, not provide momentary thrills. To offer the keys to transformation; to be better, stronger, more joyous, engaging, and successful. Today I know where those motivational messages are found in God’s Word.
Serving as effective fertilizer is work. During our years in ministry we gave everything away for free. Books, time, consulting, travel, programs. The shift from profit to ministry has come full circle. I’m happy to do a lot without cost, but do charge for some work. Whether free or paid, I’m here to help where I can.
God has a grand purpose for you. It’s grand because it’s exclusively yours. That doesn’t mean you’ll be famous or share the saving knowledge of Christ with thousands.
I’m fertilizer. Best-selling fertilizer. Which is enough humility for today. (I hope.)