When I was 16, I was given my first car. It was a 1980 Ford F150. (It happened to have been my now wife Brittany’s father’s truck that he cherished and took very good care of for years.) My parents bought this truck and gave it to me as a gift. It was some gift.
I “sort of” took care of it for a while, but after a few short weeks, the newness wore off and it just became “a truck.” Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I loved that my parents gave me this truck...I loved being able to take my friends around in it...and I loved taking girls on dates in my very own truck. However, it was often months before I cleaned it or washed it...and forget about oil changes, they were always long overdue! I was in a few fender benders here and there and never took the time to get them fixed. The bottom line is that I just didn’t take good care of my truck.
Needless to say by the time I sold the truck 2 years later, it was not the same truck it once was. Long gone were the days when it had been cherished and “well-nurtured.” Brittany (my wife) told me after we were married that every time her dad saw the truck he shook his head and openly said that he regretted selling it to us. (I hope he didn’t feel the same way about me marrying his daughter! I think I have taken much better care of her than I did of that truck!)
Right after I graduated, I saved a little money and bought a 99 Mitsubishi Mirage. At the time of purchase, it only had 7,000 miles – so it was almost brand new. Then I was the one making payments – I had real “ownership” of this car. I had a full-time job and my parents regularly reminded me that this car was my full responsibility. But somehow this car was different – I washed and waxed it weekly. I cleaned it every other day...I changed the oil ahead of schedule. I even started investing money into and making it an even better car. I really loved it. I took pride in it – I had ownership in my car.
This past summer, my wife and I bought our first house. Leading up to this purchase throughout our 6 years of marriage, we lived in 5 different apartments that we rented and never really took “extra” care of because we knew if something happened – someone else would have to come and take care of it. Plus with our track record, we knew we would likely move in a year again anyway. I found myself treating my apartment just a little better then I did my first truck. There was no pride – there was no ownership of the place we lived in.
Well last summer that changed...and just like my car, our home has been cared for with pride and ownership. Cleaning, mowing, and organizing is now a welcomed part of home ownership for us. I am so proud of our house and look forward to taking care of it (I may re-think it when loads of things need repairing!) But I am enjoying it very much and want to show off our new home.
When I think about ownership and ministry I think back to the disciples. It was easy for them for those 3 years following after Jesus just to fall in line with what Jesus was doing or what He was saying – to go along for the ride! It was easy to take orders…I would imagine they didn’t own their ministry in the same way Jesus did – you can pick up on that with some of things Jesus says to them (Mark 9:19, Luke 22:46).
You can also see their commitment to the ministry after Jesus died. They all went back to what they were doing (John 21 1 – 3). They just didn’t pick up the ball and roll with it. But, thank God there came a time when these disciples rose up and took ownership over what they had learned the past 3 years with Jesus. That time came after Jesus rose and then ascended into the heavens (Acts 1:6 - 10).
These disciples were not the same ones that fled when Jesus was captured – these disciples had taken ownership over their calling – they took ownership over what Jesus had been telling them for the past 3 years. Further, they took what Jesus started and continued the movement and started churches. Thousands of people started moving into a relationship with God because of what these disciples were doing. I mean they took ownership to a new level with the giving of their lives – their daily lives and their death to this ministry – this calling that Jesus started.
Ownership by Webster’s standards basically means to “have or hold as property to have power or mastery over.” When I think about ministry and specifically our ministry at VERB, I want us to have OWNERSHIP over whatever we are doing for VERB…to have power to hold as property. To take pride in what we do at VERB…whatever role we may have to play in it. As Pastor Steve would say “The stakes are never higher then what you do for the church (because what you do for the church – you do for God).” Whatever we do at VERB has eternal effects! Students may come into a relationship with God and change the course of their future by your very involvement at VERB. What an awesome thought.
We should take pride in everything that we do at VERB because of those stakes. You are involved in VERB for a certain reason – why is that? When you think about what you do when you are serving – do you take pride? Do you think you take ownership over your responsibility? Or are you lacking? Ownership I think is vital – because I think as part of this team you have a stake at what happens at VERB and you are a very important member of this team. With ownership comes risk – just ask Jesus or the disciples. There has to be risk when you take a chance on having ownership over something – especially a ministry where people are involved because people have sin and when there is sin someone is always going to get hurt or left disappointed. If we never want to get hurt then we should never take risks because with every risk we take there is always the chance that we will get hurt. Even as simple as becoming a part of Student Leadership – it’s a risk and there is a high chance that you could get hurt.
But the good news is that the benefits far outweigh any risks. You could be a part of something that can and will change your life and the lives of your friends and family forever. I hope that you will take this journey with me as we embark on making VERB a ministry where students can come and find a real relationship with Jesus Christ and develop friendships and relationships with people like you.